Often, after buying a new house in Michigan, people are excited to move in until it’s time to pull down those haunting tropical murals or floral prints on the walls of your new home. Judging by the stories of woe we came across online, wallpaper removal is a tedious process, and some homeowners have had to actually knock down a few walls to pull it down. But is there an easier — and probably safer — way of removing wallpaper?
When putting wallpaper, most people will ensure that it sticks good — and it can stay that way for a long time. When it’s finally time to remove it, it won’t just peel off. The whole process becomes a laborious, unpleasant, and a messy task. Often, the walls are left in dire need of repair. In this article, we will share a few smart tips to help you remove wallpaper without leaving such a huge mess behind. But first, here are few factors to consider before you start taking the paper off your walls.
Are the Walls Primed?
Before you embark on the wallpaper removal process, check to see if the walls were primed before the wallpaper was placed. Priming, the process of sealing the walls with a wallpaper primer before its papered became commonplace in the 1990s. Priming ensures that the glue doesn’t soak into the wall thereby preventing it from creating a strong bond with the drywall or plaster. To find out if your walls were primed, use a putty knife to pry up a seam or a corner and pull, you know it was primed if it comes off in a sheet.
Primed wallpaper is easy to remove. At most, the process will only take a couple of hours, of course, depending on the size of the house or the number of rooms. Its strippable, removing wallpaper from a primed wall doesn’t even leave any residue, therefore, no mess. It’s a one-step process; you may not even need anyone’s help to get the job done. However, it’s a whole different story when dealing with walls that were not primed.
Choose the Appropriate Removal Technique
Besides establishing whether the walls were primed or not, there are several other factors to consider before you settle on a wallpaper removal technique. One of them is choosing the appropriate wallpaper removal technique. Go for the one that allows you to work fast and leave little to no damage to your walls. If the walls are primed, all you have to do is strip the wallpaper off. No other interventions are required.
The type of wall or surface underneath as well as the material of the wallpaper should also be considered when removing wallpaper. If you are dealing with drywall, be careful with water. Drywall is porous and highly susceptible to water damage. Letting the water soak into the drywall for an extended time period will cause unnecessary damage and increase your Oakland County home improvement budget.
Removing the Wallpaper
The easiest and most efficient way of removing wallpaper from a wall that wasn’t sealed with a primer before papering is through the use of water. Wallpaper is stuck on the surface underneath it with glue, a water-based adhesive. Perforating the wallpaper and using a compression sprayer or a pump loosens the glue which allows you to peel off the paper easily. Before you start peeling off the wallpaper, let it soak for a few minutes but don’t wait too long, or you will damage your walls (drywall).
It helps if the water is hot. Don’t use a spray bottle or a damp rag, get a sprayer. It will give you the necessary firepower to penetrate the glue bond between the paper and the wall. Another great way to harness the power of water vis-à-vis wallpaper removal via a wallpaper steamer. You can rent one of these from a hardware store or a home improvement store. Wallpaper steamers are neater and are more effective at wallpaper removal.
Don’t Buy the Hype with Fabric Softeners and Chemical Strippers
The online world is full of people claiming that fabric softeners can be used to remove wallpaper, but these claims are unfounded. After consulting several experts in the field, none backed with this claim. In fact, according to most of them, fabric softener only serves to make the process messier and smelly. It’s a myth. On chemical strippers, why would one even consider using them to remove old wallpaper when water works so well? Sure, chemical strippers dissolve the glue faster but they are expensive, and they emit harmful toxins.