30 year old wall paper removal


Old 04-03-11, 07:35 AM
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30 year old wall paper removal

Hi all,
I know there is a wallpaper forum but it seems pretty inactive so I thought I would post here first and see if I could raise a response.

I am trying to help get my mothers condo in shape for a sale and in doing so are starting to de-wallpaper all three bathrooms. I've done a fair amount of this myself and my own current home but what I am running into at her place is not responding to techniques I've used in the past. I am using a paper tiger and have then tried plain warm water sprayed on and left to soak for 10-15 minutes. I then use a putty knife to try to bring up the wall paper. I have also tried Dif gel and the thinner solution diluted with water in a mist bottle. These techniques have worked for me in the past but are not working now.

I have been able to get small area off with a lot of work but it seems like there is a thin gray layer of maybe what was a thin coat of troweled on adhesive/mastic that seems to be very separate from the floral design top coat of the wallpaper.That adhesive layer seems tough to get up. This wallpaper was installed about 30 years ago if that distinction helps. I think wallpapers in the past used to require a separate coat of adhesive and they did not have their own built in to the wall paper.

I have used a rented steamer in the past from Home Depot and may need to go that route. My mother is going to have a tradesman in for a quote who claims he does not use a steamer but uses 30 (or 60?) grit sand paper for the top layer and then sprays on solutions to get off the backing layers. Has anyone tried this technique?

If anyone has any suggestions as to why this is so difficult and what to try it will be greatly appreciated.

Old 04-03-11, 07:42 AM
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Was the wallpaper hung when the condo was new? some builders paper over raw drywall to save $ That makes it almost impossible to remove the paper.

I've never heard of using coarse sandpaper to remove wallpaper but I don't see any reason it wouldn't work. Anyway it goes, stubborn wallpaper removal will likely results in drywall repairs. Whenever adhesive remains or the paper face of the drywall is removed - you need to coat the area [or whole wall] with an oil base primer or Zinnser's Gardz. The gardz is the only waterbased primer that is suitable for this type of job. Once the wall is repaired it's ok to use most any latex wall primer.
Old 04-03-11, 12:05 PM
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No, the wallpaper was not put on raw sheetrock. When my mother moved in 30 years ago there was some wallpaper up she did not care for. She hired a wallpaper person to come in and take off the old wallpaper and put up the current wallpaper. I have to assume (hope) that he did the right thing in terms of wall preparation. Sizing etc..

Old 04-04-11, 09:06 AM
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I hate wallpaper

Get the stuff off any way you can and cover any exposed gypsum with Gardz before you skim coat with joint compound

I think your assumption of proper preparation has been disproved by the effort this is requiring of you
Old 04-07-11, 04:34 AM
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The Tradesman's method does work because some "surface coatings" are relatively impervious to water penetration and the scuffing compromises that coating, allowing an enzyme solution to attack the adhesive and losen the paper for removal.

If you have three rooms, buy the following:

A gallon and a half yard sprayer. You can get one at Lowes for ten bucks.
An enzyme removal solution. I recommend "Safe and Simple." You can google it. They're out of California. I've used their product for years and it works better than any other. All you need is a quart. You mix two ounces to a gallon of water and it goes a lot further than anything that you'll buy off a shelf at the stores.

A sharp razor scraper.
Scour pads
a 9x12 plastic drop cloth
Some sort of protection for the floor.
A bucket of TSP solution.
Micro-Fiber Towels
A lot of patience

Before you get into this, attempt to remove the wallcovering dry with the scraper mentioned below. Believe it or not, some wallcoverings will remove dry. It doesn't work often but, it sure beats the messy situation that you are about to get into.

After you have scored or paper-tigered the surface, spray; wait two minutes; spray again; wait five minutes and spray again. After ten minutes. Spray ahead. Wet the whole wall but only work with an area that is two or three "runs" wide.

You'll need a scraper that has a ten inch handle and a four inch replaceable razor blade. It will take you two or three runs of removeable to get used to scraping the wall and just the right angle to shave the wallcovering off without gouging the wall.

As soon as you have two runs removed, re-wet the wall and got back and get the residual adhesive and paper bits. Clean with a solution of TSP and wipe down with micro-fiber cloths to remove excessive moisture. (Roll old towles, lengthways, and lay along the baseboard.

If the method suggested isn't working, wet the wall again and smooth a section cut from the plastic drop cloth onto the wet wallcovering. Let it sit for a while. This prevents the solution from drying while it is activating the old ahesive.

Sometimes, even this doesn't work really well only because, as you are soaking the wall, it is being absorbed by the wall itself, behind the paper because the wall never had the proper "prep"- a coating of pre-wallcovering primer sealer that acts as a vapor barrier and provides easy removal.

Good luck. Reply if you need additional info or advice.

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