When it comes to the topic of wallpaper, many of us tend to think of gaudy colors and dated designs harkening back to the 1970’s and 1980’s when this style of decoration was at the at the height its popularity. In spite of its somewhat tainted reputation, wallpaper has made its way back into many homes in an altogether more updated, chic form than its predecessor.
Be that as it may, many of us prefer paint to wallpaper but find it a distinct challenge to remove the latter without hours of toil and frustration. Whether your living room is covered in a decades-old print or its altogether more modern conception, knowing how to remove wallpaper effectively and efficiently will save you time and money, simplifying your home renovations significantly.
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What Is Wallpaper?
Wallpaper has been used to decorate interiors for centuries and is essentially just paper, in various designs, that is glued in vertical sections to a wall. In order to learn how to remove wallpaper, it is important to first understand the various textures and types of wallpaper that exist.
There are several different categories of wallpaper, including vinyl, vinyl coated paper, solid sheet vinyl, vinyl coated fabric, non-woven, easy-walls, pre-pasted, and grass cloth wallpapers. Vinyl wallpaper is one of the most common options you will find, as it is simple to install, not inherently difficult to remove, and cleans well.
Vinyl coated paper is most definitely a step up from the standard paper selection, as it is more durable, easy to wash, and responds well to humidity. Solid sheet vinyl is one of the thickest wallpaper options, which also makes it far less difficult to remove. Vinyl coated fabric wallpaper is long-lasting and often hangs for many years due to its natural texture.
Non-woven wallpaper does not contain vinyl at all, rather, it is washable, hardy, and specifically mold resistant. Easy-walls wallpaper is similar and uses water-based ink. This type is very easily to install and remove. Prepasted wallpaper contains a natural glue, which means it only needs to be wet and hung up. This type is what people often think of when referring to standard wallpaper. It is much more of a mess and can be difficult to remove. Finally, grasscloth wallpaper is made from natural textiles, making it harder to clean.
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What Are the Benefits of Wallpaper?
There are several benefits to using wallpaper in your home, which is one reason that many people prefer it to paint. Wallpaper is highly durable.This of course makes it difficult to remove, but comes in quite handy if you like it and wish it to last for 10, 15, or 20 years from now. Wallpaper clings easily and smoothly when installed and has the added benefit of concealing surface inconsistencies.
Unlike paint, wallpaper comes in many different designs and textures, allowing you to create an added depth and element of interest when installing it in any room. If you already have a quality wallpaper installed and only wish to remove some of it, it is possible to keep one accent wall with the paper design and paint the rest.
Another feature of wallpaper that appeals to many homeowners are the versatile surfaces and multitude of design options available on the market today. You can choose wallpaper with elements such as raised ink, gels, beads, glitter and pearls, and silk.
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Tips: How to Remove Wallpaper Easily
Now that you are an expert in all things wallpaper, it it is time to prepare for your undertaking. The first essential step you need to make when learning how to remove wallpaper is to prepare the room you are going to be working in. Start by taking pictures and other items off of the walls, pushing furniture to the center of the room or storing it elsewhere, and covering any remaining pieces with sheets or drop cloths to keep them from becoming wet or damaged. Next, you will need to cut off any electricity in the room, covering light switches and plug outlets with painter’s tape.
Before you can practice how to remove wallpaper, you need to assess what type is on the wall. Use the guide we provided above to the various types for starters, then grab a putty knife to try and peel a corner of the paper off. If it comes away with ease, the wallpaper is strippable. If it leaves a thick paper residue behind, the wallpaper is peelable. If the wallpaper does not move at all, you are dealing with the old-fashioned type which can only be taken off with a chemical stripper and water.
The supplies you need for safely and efficiently removing wallpaper do vary a bit based on whether it is strippable, peelable, or traditional. For strippable wallpaper, you will need a putty knife, water, soap, and rags. For the peelable or traditional kind, in addition to these supplies, you will also need a wallpaper stripper, spray bottle, scoring tool, ladder, and rubber gloves.
Get to Work
To start removing the strippable variety of wallpaper, take your putty knife and carefully pull up a corner of the paper. Using your hands, peel the paper back all the way down, staying as close to the wall as possible to avoid rips or tears.
If the paper happens to rip, simply start with another corner and repeat. Continue doing this until the wall is completely stripped of paper. Use soap and water to sponge off the wallpaper’s residue and make sure everything dries before you begin to paint.
For peelable wallpaper, you will pull at the paper starting in the corner. Use your putty knife to separate the paper from the thick residue it leaves behind, known as the backing. To remove the backing, you will need to use hot water and a wallpaper stripper. Follow the directions on the container for the stripper and use a spray bottle to apply to a small area of the wall once combined.
Let the solution sit a few minutes before using your putty knife to start peeling away the thick backing. Start at the bottom and work your way up, being careful to avoid making a dent in the drywall. If this process is not sufficient, you may need to use a scoring tool over the solution to remove the backing in coincidental, circular motions. Now that you are a complete pro at knowing how to remove wallpaper, use soap and water to clean the wall before painting.
Finally, we come to the removal of traditional wallpaper. Use the same combination of hot water and a wallpaper stripper as you would for the peelable wallpaper. Apply it with the garden sprayer and use your putty knife to scrape up the wall, slowly removing the adhesions. Be sure to use your scoring tool if necessary and clean the wall with soap and water before painting.
One last tip to help you effectively learn how to remove wallpaper: don't be afraid to use a steamer. If you have tried the methods named above, and for one reason or another they are not sufficient to remove the wallpaper, you may require the use of an electric steamer. These can usually be purchased at your local home improvement retailer.
In addition to your trusty putty knife, rubber gloves, scoring tool, soap, water, and rags, you will need to use safety goggles when handling an electric steamer. Read the directions on the package to ready the steamer for use, letting the water heat up inside before using it. Use your gloves and cover your arms with long sleeves to avoid risk of burns.
Hold the steamer flush against the wallpaper to loosen the sticky adhesive, pulling it away from time to time if you have drywall beneath. Once completed, use a putty knife to remove the wallpaper. If the steam is not sufficient to completely absorb through the wallpaper, use your scoring tool to punch holes in the paper, alternating between steaming and scraping. Once the paper is finally removed, use soap and water to clean the walls and let them dry before you start to paint.
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To be sure, learning how to remove wallpaper is a process that takes some patience and the art requires some practice to master. Depending on the type of wallpaper installed in your home, the undertaking could be relatively simple or more difficult.
Without a doubt, strippable wallpaper is the easiest type to remove, and depending on the size of the room you are working in, should take far less time than the other varieties. Peelable wallpaper will take longer to be sure, but is not nearly so adhesive as the traditional type. Traditional wallpaper easily takes the longest to remove, but with the right tools and supplies, you can accomplish the task like a seasoned professional.
Using our tips and learning how to remove wallpaper before you start will help simplify your life and prepare you to tackle whichever wallpaper you face, whether it be strippable, peelable, or traditional.
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