New wallpapers transform a room, giving it a brand new look. However, the hard part is removing existing wallpapers. Most wallpapers are not dry-strippable and do not peel off easily. When pulled, only the decorative surface layer comes out.
The common practice of soaking the wall to remove wallpaper may become counterproductive and severely damage drywall or gypsum-based walls. This does not work when there are multiple layers to peel off, as the wallpaper is painted over in the first place.
The solution is to use a wallpaper removal steamer along with a scraper. A wallpaper removal steamer consists of a hot plate and makes use of steam to soften the glue between the wallpaper and the wall, meaning that it does the task of wetting the wallpaper to make removal easy without wetting the walls.
The process is relatively simple:
- Fill the wallpaper steamer pan with water and heat it up.
- Hold the heated hot plate against the wall, ideally starting from top of the wall.
- Move the hot plate to another area when the wallpaper softens.
- Scrape the softened wallpaper with a scraper. Cover the wallpaper with small perforations beforehand using a wallpaper perforator to make it easy to peel it off.
- Use a sponge mop and solvent to wash off residual adhesive that remains on the walls.
Make sure to wear rubber gloves and cover your hands completely, so that the steam does not cause injury.
Wallpaper removal steamers work well on almost all walls, including gypsum walls, and almost all types of wallpapers, including wallpapers which were not properly sealed in the first place.
Before you begin removing the wallpaper on your walls, determine what sort of walls you have. If your walls are more than 50 years old, they are likely to be plaster walls and usually have two or three layers of plaster under them. When you knock on them, the sound you hear would be quite dull as plaster walls are pretty solid. If your home has been built in the last 50 years, you probably have drywall. Drywall is made out of a chalk-like substance and are built over wooden-framed walls, so they will sound hollow when knocked on. These walls are quite delicate and can be damaged as they are covered with cardboard, which means you need to be really careful when scraping off the wallpaper.
Also identify if you have peelable or washable wallpaper. Each of these comes with instructions on the right peeling technique, which you must make sure to follow. With peelable wallpapers, the top vinyl coat can be peeled off easily. You then need to remove the backing with water. Stripping off washable wall paper is a little more difficult, as you must first break through the plastic sheet which the paper is covered with.
Once you do your homework and understand what kind of walls and wallpapers you are dealing with, and the correct technique of removing them, the rest of the job can be done quite efficiently by renting the right tools.
About the Author
Heidi Hudnall is the current Marketing Coordinator at Runyon Companies. She graduated from Butler University in the spring with a double major in International Business and Marketing, a minor in Spanish, departmental honors distinction and cum laude. She specializes in all things internet marketing, with an emphasis on content creation, website maintenance, blogging, social media, lead tracking and marketing strategy.