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Scraping Wallpaper - - Oh, Joy? :)
Old 09-22-2007, 04:56 PM   #1
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Scraping Wallpaper - - Oh, Joy? :)

My house is completely wallpapered - - by the previous owner, who was a widow about my age with the same old-lady tastes as me. It's pretty!

But, I plan to sell my house in 2009 before I relocate for retirement. I think my house will be easier to sell if I remove the wallpaper and present it freshly painted in neutral colors. Believe me, a guy would NOT like the kinds of wallpaper that cover my house at present.

So, in preparation, today I started the massive job of scraping off wallpaper. I went to Lowes, and got a scorer, some scrapers, and a chemical to spray on the wallpaper after scoring and before scraping.

I really hope this is NOT as awful a job as I fear!!! Wish me luck. So far, the score is "Walls: 0. W2r: 0". Today I am starting with the dressing room off the Master bedroom. I will start scraping in 10 minutes, once the chemical has soaked in.

And, if you have any special tips, I would welcome them. I have never done this or even seen this done before, and believe me when I say the ENTIRE house has to have this done, room by room, over the next couple of years.
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Old 09-22-2007, 05:11 PM   #2
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you can rent a steamer designed to remove wallpaper. used it in kitchen and bath years ago. worked great. much easier than i would have thought.
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Old 09-22-2007, 05:28 PM   #3
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I've taken quite a bit of wallpaper off in the last few months. I learned how to do it well on my 2nd room.

I suggest not spraying anything on it at first to see if the wallpaper will just peel off. If it doesn't, the best thing that worked for me was after scoring the walls, I dipped paper towels (Viva) into about a half of gallon of water and a cup of Downy. Get the towels soppy wet and put on the wallpaper. It wll stick to the wall nicely. Put up several squares (I put up about 6 at a time, the towels were doubled) and let them stay on for 15 min or so. The paper should come off easily. This is time consuming however. It can go faster with 2 working. I did it by myself.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 09-22-2007, 05:32 PM   #4
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Sounds like she already used the chemical, and that's probably a good thing as sometimes part of the wall can come off with the paper if you take it off dry. If it was painted or primed underneath, it will probably go well. If it was put directly on the wallboard, it's going to go a lot longer.
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Old 09-22-2007, 05:38 PM   #5
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Every room in our house including the bathrooms was covered with wallpaper when we first bought it. Over the years I removed it all and painted every room. The wallpaper was high quality so it was not bad to remove. I used a liquid remover let it soak for 5 minutes and off it came.

Good luck
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Old 09-22-2007, 06:42 PM   #6
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I removed wallpaper in my brother's house to prep for sale. Because the walls were plaster, not drywall, it either peeled off easily. Where a residue remained I just sprayed it with diluted Downey, waited a few minutes to penetrate, and scraped it off.

If the wallpaper is on drywall, which has a paper surface, be prepared to apply a sealer and finish (such as orange peel) to achieve an nice paint-able surface. If it looks like you will need to apply a finish on the walls of a couple rooms find a drywall finisher who is willing to work in a room or two between projects. Their spray texture techniques make a real difference.
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Old 09-22-2007, 07:29 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by lazygood4nothinbum View Post
you can rent a steamer designed to remove wallpaper. used it in kitchen and bath years ago. worked great. much easier than i would have thought.
Here's another thumbs up for using a steamer. I rented one from a local tools rental company.
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Old 09-22-2007, 07:35 PM   #8
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WOW!!! You all are amazing. What great tips and help!!!

I just spent the past two hours working on it, and got about 8 square feet (5'x1.5') removed. That was slow!

The top wallpaper is maroon, striped with a darker maroon. Definitely appealed to the Aggie in me.

Beneath that, is black - - an Asian design with flowers on a black background. Looks like a kimono print.

Beneath that, is vertical peach stripes with flowers, on a beige background.

Directly under the three layers of wallpaper, is the drywall. Despite being very careful, I already messed up a little bit. So thanks especially to Brat for the tip about what to do about that before painting!!.

LGNB, that's a great tip about the steamer. Since I will be doing the whole house, I may rent one and see if it is any easier. Doing this the way I am doing it (scoring, spraying the chemical, scraping, repeat) is going to take forever.

Thanks to everyone else for this TREASURE of great tips on removing wallpaper! You are the greatest!

As for me, I am done for the evening. This is harder than I thought it would be!

ETA: I forgot to update the score: "Walls: 8. W2r: 2".
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Old 09-22-2007, 08:02 PM   #9
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I did that in my condo....horrible memories.....it was not high quality and the glue stuck to the walls. My neighbor helped me out once I started crying after 4 hours of scraping, scoring, and peeling ( I had a massive hangover as well).
I had to wash the walls.....let them dry.....prime....and then paint.....total process took about 4 days for a kitchen and bathroom.....never again will I buy a house with wallpaper.
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Old 09-22-2007, 08:11 PM   #10
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Wow, the whole house! It is a tedious and time consuming job. Generally most of the paper comes off easily, but there are always spots where you have to use your nails and pick off bits. And with mutiple layers of paper all I can say is - I am glad it is you and not me. I wish you luck and patience.
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Old 09-22-2007, 08:19 PM   #11
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Wow, the whole house! It is a tedious and time consuming job. Generally most of the paper comes off easily, but there are always spots where you have to use your nails and pick off bits. And with mutiple layers of paper all I can say is - I am glad it is you and not me. I wish you luck and patience.
Thanks, Sandy. I am beginning to realize that the reason women have long, strong nails is for peeling wallpaper! Most of what I got off came off that way. Sure, there were a few strips 6" or even 12" long, (and one even longer) but mostly it has been picking off bits. Luckily, this first room (my dressing room, or boudoir, or whatever one should call it) is small. I am already wondering if one can paint over wallpaper and if it would fool anybody.

Citrine, I can sure sympathize! I don't think I could do something like this with a hangover. Well, I don't drink, but I have seen enough hangovers in other people to know that they would make peeling wallpaper a terrible experience! Frank has volunteered to come over and help tomorrow, but I don't know if he knows what he's getting into.
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Old 09-22-2007, 08:25 PM   #12
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You can paint over wallpaper but the joins will show. The only type of wallpaper which works with this is the textured type, because the joins will not stand out so much. Also, if the wallpaper is not completely adherent to the wall, or there are cracks, overpainting is a bad idea. Partly peeled paper covered by paint ends up looking irregular.

But there is one other way, and I have used it for the multiple layers of tightly adherent WP in my old house. Peel off any loose bits and have a professional plaster it to a new, smooth finish. Probably not the LBYM solution!

I agree, I will never again buy a house that has been wallpapered, unless I know that it was done recently, and only once. And I will never, ever, buy a house owned by a smoker.
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Old 09-22-2007, 08:26 PM   #13
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Generally, professionals don't recommend painting over wallpaper because wallpaper often peels and curls at the edges as it ages. But if it has been there awhile, seems secure, and there are no serious blemishes, I would certainly give that a try before trying to unpaper 6, 8 or more rooms. BTW, DH and I wallpapered a bathroom once. Ugly scene. It is the one job we will never do again. Since the process didn't result in divorce, I figure we are good for many more years.
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Old 09-22-2007, 08:35 PM   #14
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I've taken quite a bit of wallpaper off in the last few months. I learned how to do it well on my 2nd room.

I suggest not spraying anything on it at first to see if the wallpaper will just peel off. If it doesn't, the best thing that worked for me was after scoring the walls, I dipped paper towels (Viva) into about a half of gallon of water and a cup of Downy. Get the towels soppy wet and put on the wallpaper. It wll stick to the wall nicely. Put up several squares (I put up about 6 at a time, the towels were doubled) and let them stay on for 15 min or so. The paper should come off easily. This is time consuming however. It can go faster with 2 working. I did it by myself.

Just my 2 cents.
Wow, I just tried this! Well, I used the chemical instead of Downy (since I had the former and not the latter), but it was amazing. Great big old pieces just came peeling off, right away! In 10 minutes, I had most of the top two layers off in a 3 paper-towel-sized area that I tried as an experiment. The bottom layer wouldn't budge, so I am repeating. I found I can re-use the same paper towels for this. Thank you! This is probably at least 5 times faster than what I was doing.

Thanks, Sandy & Meadbh. Sounds like painting over it might not be too smart. It only seems feasible when I am on my knees digging into the third layer with fingers that smell like chemicals, to no avail! LOL

Meadbh, one thing that I love about my house is that it only had one owner before me - - and she did not smoke, and was rabidly against it and would not allow smokers in the house - - I can tell you it is AMAZING to live in a home where nobody has ever smoked. I do love that about my house.
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Old 09-22-2007, 08:59 PM   #15
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I'm so glad the tips helped! It can be a tough job, but it can be quite satisfying as you peel the old stuff away. The walls can be another way of counting down to retirement.
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Old 09-22-2007, 09:01 PM   #16
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I'm so glad the tips helped! It can be a tough job, but it can be quite satisfying as you peel the old stuff away. The walls can be another way of counting down to retirement.
It's kind of exciting, when I think about that!

So far, the score is: "Walls:8, W2R: 4". Soon I may have the upper hand in this!
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Old 09-22-2007, 09:08 PM   #17
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Three layers of wallpaper??! You are a better woman than I am. I thought taking two layers off was a challenge -- but I learned a lot about how to do it. The chemical solution works ok, but using a professional steamer is much faster -- and after the paper is off, if you go back over the wall with the steamer, the residual paste should come off relatively easy.

BTW: If the wallpaper is securely pasted down (and doesn't have a pattern that might show through the paint), you can paint over it, I learned. The seams should be lightly sanded and sealed with a primer like Binz -- then two good coats of paint. I did this in a two story foyer after I discovered that the wallpaper had been pasted on with some kind of really strong paste that didn't want to budge. The key is to level out the seams and use the primer -- otherwise the seams will show in the finished job.

Good luck!
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Old 09-22-2007, 11:38 PM   #18
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Wow, I just tried this! Well, I used the chemical instead of Downy (since I had the former and not the latter), but it was amazing. Great big old pieces just came peeling off, right away!
Thanks, Sandy & Meadbh. Sounds like painting over it might not be too smart. It only seems feasible when I am on my knees digging into the third layer with fingers that smell like chemicals, to no avail! LOL
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The top wallpaper is maroon, striped with a darker maroon. Definitely appealed to the Aggie in me.
Beneath that, is black - - an Asian design with flowers on a black background. Looks like a kimono print.
Beneath that, is vertical peach stripes with flowers, on a beige background.
Directly under the three layers of wallpaper, is the drywall. Despite being very careful, I already messed up a little bit. So thanks especially to Brat for the tip about what to do about that before painting!!.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meadbh View Post
You can paint over wallpaper but the joins will show. The only type of wallpaper which works with this is the textured type, because the joins will not stand out so much. Also, if the wallpaper is not completely adherent to the wall, or there are cracks, overpainting is a bad idea. Partly peeled paper covered by paint ends up looking irregular.
But there is one other way, and I have used it for the multiple layers of tightly adherent WP in my old house. Peel off any loose bits and have a professional plaster it to a new, smooth finish. Probably not the LBYM solution!
Well, I'm late to the helpdesk, so hopefully it's not too late...

Enzymes are the way to go, scoring helps them penetrate, and gooping them on thick allows them to stick until they've penetrated. The longer you give them, the easier you'll get off the glue attached to the plaster.

We watched a "This Old House" rehab where a creative homeowner tackled multiple layers of wallpaper with a razor knife. First she cut through a 3'x2' section and peeled off the paper around it. She sliced away successive layers of the remaining rectangle in an attractive wavy pattern that uncovered portions of all the layers for display. Then she attached an ornate picture frame to the wall and called it art.

You'll live to regret painting over wallpaper. The former owners of our house did that after we bought it (before the closing) and we had to beg them to stop "fixing things up". Seven years later we're still finding layers of paper & glue peeling away from the walls and bubbling up their (cheap latex) paint.
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Old 09-23-2007, 09:26 AM   #19
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Thanks, Nords and Achiever51!

One of my guest bedrooms has wallpaper that is very firmly affixed. Unfortunately, it is a white-with-wide-dark-stripes pattern, so it would show through the paint. Some of the other rooms have wallpaper that has bubbled. So, despite the urges that come upon me when this seems hopelessly hard, I probably will not try to paint over it.

Right now, I am using the enzymes with paper towels and waiting about 15 minutes. That seems to be a huge improvement over doing the same without paper towels.

It sounds like what I REALLY need to do, is to get a week off work and rent one of those steamers. But meanwhile, I am making progress on stripping (the wallpaper off!) in my boudoir.

I found that the wallpaper covered at least one irregularity in the wall surface, probably due to previous remodeling over the years. It is a rectangular indentation about 2"x3" and 1/2" deep, and about a foot from the electrical socket so perhaps it was an "oops" at one time. It doesn't go clear through, though. Maybe when Frank comes over I can ask him for an opinion on what I should do about that!

Last night I couldn't sleep (too excited about wallpaper removal!) so I tore huge chunks out of the wallpaper in my tiny toilet-and-shower room connected with the boudoir. It has the same surface wallpaper, but a sensible waterproof wallpaper underneath that was a SNAP to remove, so that was fun. No third layer there.

This is going to look GREAT, if I ever finish!! There are so many colors of "white" - - I don't plan to use a stark white, but probably some sort of essentially white eggshell color that most people would call "white". It is going to brighten up this area and make it seem bigger and cheerier!
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Old 09-23-2007, 10:27 AM   #20
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I found that wallpaper had been stretched over a substantial hole in a bathroom wall in my brother's house. Probably opened to do plumbing work. Pretty handy, actually, as we took the opportunity to do more repairs before painting the room.

Want2Retire, no need to paint the room white to bring it to bright and cheery. Take a look at the room to see if you can pick up another light color.
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