Wallpaper, What goes up must come down
We’ve looked at wallpaper for everything from walls to ceilings to furniture. But what do you do when you need to take it down? Let’s start with the types of wallpaper and how it went up.
Most wallpaper that was applied in the 50’s – 70’s was a lot thinner and the glue was just that, a true glue. Often, you could see the yellow paste behind some of the lighter colored papers. Papers were thin and once they were up they stayed up. I just worked in a house that had wallpaper and borders in just about every room. We were able to get the borders down, but the paper was another story. Some of the paper had to be left up, it was painted over with an oil primer, the seams were spackled and sanded and then painted again with primer before the final coat of paint was applied.
This is the process recommended for papers that have been applied directly to the sheet rock. Sheet rock has a paper on the surface which will bond with the glue and wallpaper. When you try to remove the wallpaper, the sheet rock paper will come off with it, resulting in the walls needing to be skim coated to create a smooth surface again. That’s not something you want to deal with if you don’t have to.
If the wallpaper is already peeling off the walls, then it must come down. This often happens in bathrooms and kitchens where a lot of steam or humidity has taken hold of the wallpaper and made the glue release.
There are many tools and tricks to remove wallpaper: steam, scoring the surface, pulling and then comes the scraping. I would recommend watching a few Youtube videos to learn different techniques to see if you’re up to the challenge.
But let's fast forward to 2019 where wallpaper paste is a totally different animal. Many papers are prepasted allowing them to be applied very easily. I have to be honest; I still use paste on my paper even if it is prepasted.
The key to making sure wallpaper goes up and comes down easily is in the prep- and that mean sizing the wall. This is a product that is applied before the wallpaper goes up and it dries super fast. Plus, paste has been recreated to release when water is applied so it is a lot easier to remove.
So, let's look at the steps to remove and rehang paper. DO NOT HANG PAPER OVER PAPER! This is a recipe for disaster. Look at your seams and determine if they are stuck, then prime, spackle and paint.
If you’re working on walls that don’t have wallpaper, SIZE the walls, while this is drying, you set up your area, prep your paper, and have fresh water and your tools ready to go.
If you’re totally overwhelmed, bring in the professional. Wallpaper can be expensive, but worth every moment of enjoyment.