For interior walls covered with wallpaper, wallpaper removal is one option when you are planning to change their appearance. Another popular other option is to paint over the current wallpaper, although in some cases that may not be the best choice. Which method is right for your home depends largely upon the type, and condition, of the wallpaper. Older wallpaper that forms a tighter bond with the wall beneath is harder to remove than newer wallpaper and is a better candidate for painting. However, wallpaper in disrepair or that is peeling in places should definitely be removed.
Removable wallpaper is designed to be applied with a looser bond and it is highly likely it will be removed. Consequently, it is far easier to remove. Sometimes you can peel it off by tugging at a corner. Although that is what the directions may say, it will probably not be quite that easy. Old wallpaper was designed to last, so the bond between it and the wall was made to be strong. Removing it can become a chore. At the very least, soaking the wallpaper and painstakingly scraping off it off a piece at a time is required. In extreme cases, a wall steamer is needed to thoroughly dampen the wallpaper.
You can, however, make up your own wallpaper removing mixture with hot water, a formulated wallpaper remover, liquid fabric softener and baking soda. If you know for a fact that the wallpaper is removable, then you should remove it. If removal requires a tougher process, you might consider painting over it.
Painting Over Wallpaper: Pros and Cons
Old, tough-to-remove wallpaper might be better to paint over. Rather than spend hours or days soaking, scraping and peeling off the wallpaper bit by bit, painting over it will take half the time. Time saved is the biggest advantage of painting over wallpaper. The job will require at least two coats of primer followed by any texture and/or paint, but it will be much more quickly accomplished.
On the downside, however, if the wallpaper is peeling away from the wall or is already so thickly applied, painting over it might prove to be problematic in the future. As the bond between the wallpaper and the wall gradually breaks down, any paint applied over it will come off with it. This will, in effect, ruin your newly painted walls or at least require repair in parts. Any seams in the wallpaper, too, may cause unwanted textures in the paint. In addition, very dark or patterned wallpaper will need several coats of paint to cover. Much of the primer can cover, but you may need to apply more than you would with no wallpaper.
With removable wallpaper, the job of removing it is relatively simple: just peel from a corner and help it along with a scraper. Older or fully-glued wallpaper will pose a bigger challenge when removing it. In that case, you may find that painting over it is far easier. Keep in mind, though, that paint will not cover up thick seams or curling edges. Despite the time it will take, removal may be your only option.