Buying a home with wallpaper on every wall

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Old 05-09-16, 02:01 PM
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Question Buying a home with wallpaper on every wall

Hi all

I am trying to figure out what approach to take. We are buying a home where someone had a serious problem with walls without wallpaper

House is from the 50s. Walls are plaster. We really want to get the paper down and walls painted. Trouble is, we need to get it done fast so we can move in--so I am going back and forth on whether we should try to DIY it, or pay someone to do it.

I've gotten lots of advice from folks. Some are downright adamant that we should either paint over the paper (they havent seen the property yet) or laminate sheetrock over it.

My question is this: lets say a painter estimated $3k to remove paper, repair walls and paint. Would I save more than, say, $1k if we go in and do the paper removal part ourselves and leave the wall repair/painting to the pros?

Trying to balance time and $$$. As always, any advice appreciated.
 
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Old 05-09-16, 02:05 PM
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I should also add, this house has not been updated since what appears to be 1976 (based on carpets, anyways) according to the flooring guy who gave me an estimate.
 
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Old 05-09-16, 02:19 PM
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I'm not rich, my wife will attest. I don't think I would strip a houseful of paper to save $1K.

Even as a contractor with some knowledge, I've started projects I regretted.
Whichever way, I don't like walls being skinned with 1/4" drywall. Proper removal is the way to go IMO.
 
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Old 05-09-16, 02:34 PM
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Many years ago we used a steam machine with many helpers, I was one of them. Yes, it was a big project, but in one weekend (2 story with wall paper EVERYWHERE) it was done. I wasn't around for the prep work after the removal, but I would guess there was a lot.

Where time is an issue, IMO, go with the pro. If there are problems under that paper he will be better equipped to handle them and time is his business. He will be in and out before you would could get set up to start the paper removal. That's assuming he is available.

Bud
 
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Old 05-09-16, 02:48 PM
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Removing wallpaper from plaster isn't bad at all. If you rented 3 steamers & hired 3 or 4 day workers, you could remove all the paper in 2 days.
 
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Old 05-09-16, 03:00 PM
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As Pulpo said, generally wallpaper removal from plaster walls goes better than removing it from drywall although a lot has to do with how the wall was prepared or painted prior to the paper being hung.

Assuming the paper isn't original to the house, the odds are the walls were originally painted with oil base paint - that makes wallpaper stripping an easier job!

Because stripping wallpaper is rarely fun I've always charged a little extra for my estimate of time to remove the wallpaper. Savings could be significant but no good way to know without being there to inspect the job. You could ask for bids both ways.
 
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Old 05-10-16, 05:05 AM
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As is always the case, having the right products and tools may make the removal job a lot easier. When removing wallcoverings from plaster walls, you won't have the problem of damaging the substrate (in this case, plaster). It's hard and getting wet doesn't present a problem that will require hours of skim-coating the damage.
There's a California Product (Safe-and-Simple is the Brand name)product Safe and Simple that you mix 2oz-to-a-gallon that makes quick work of the removal. Put it in a garden sprayer and lay old towels down along the baseboard to catch any solution that drains down the wall. Soak each 3-5 foot section of wall, wait two minutes and soak again. After the third soaking with the spray, especially on plaster, the wp should lift at a corner (at the seam) and pull slowly off. For stubborn areas, you can take a 6 foot section of cheap painters sheet plastic and, immediately after spraying, smooth the sheet plastic over the solution-wet surface of the wp and smoothing out the trapped air and this will allow the solution to soak through the paper and loosen the adhesive. As you work on each 3-5 foot section and after the paper is removed, immediately agitate the remaining paste on the wall with a scour pad (HD used to sell a scour pad pack with graduated levels of coarseness and an attachable plastic pad handle.) A-MAZ The Gripper Scrub Pads (3-Pack)-GP3 - The Home Depot Spray the walls, agitate paste with pad, squeegee off or remove with microfiber towels (Costco sells a 36 pack for $20- their yellow in the automotive area of the store). Have a rinse bucket handy so that you can REMOVE ALL Paper Bits and Residual Paste while the adhesive is still wet. If you don't get all of the adhesive off, the surface of of the paint will "alligator" in the next six months. Once all of the residual paste is off and the walls are dry, apply a coat of Zinsser Gardz Zinsser 1-gal. Gardz Clear Water Base Drywall Primer and Problem Surface Sealer (Case of 4)-2301 - The Home Depot to the walls to prime/seal them before applying the finish paint. It's cheaper than finish paint and will save on the amount of finish paint that you will need. Gardz goes a long way, one gallon will do two rooms, if applied with a 3/8" nap MICROFIBER roller cover. Don't over-load the roller cover in the tray. The stuff is thinner than water and care has to be taken to start with a not-so-loaded amount when going to the wall with it. Start applying Gardz to the wall in an UPWARD direction with light pressure. You get the hang of it quickly. As you move along with the Gardz, you'll be able to work quickly with it. Protect your floor area or wipe off splatters quickly with a damp cloth. The Gardz dries quickly (1.5 hours) and, importantly, it encapsulates everything and seals it down so its best to have your wall prep thoroughly completed (sanding, spackling, paper bit and adhesive removal) before applying the Gardz.
So, remove the paper, remove the residual adhesive, dry, inspect the surface and repair as necessary, prime/seal with Gardz, Caulk your trim, Finish paint. It's time consuming but, not that hard.
Purchase a scraper blade on a 14" handle that accepts a 4" replaceable blade, once the blade wears off it's razor sharp edge, with the right angle applied to the wall, it will make quick work of the paper that is a bit stubborn. It the paper doesn't come off fairly easily, it needs more removal solution. Broad knives and putty knives are not the best tools to use to remove the wallpaper- too dull and either too narrow or too broad. QEP 4 in. Wide Replacement Blade for Razor Scrapers and Strippers (5-Pack)-62901Q - The Home Depot AND QEP 4 in. Wide Razor Scraper and Stripper-62900Q - The Home Depot

Any other questions? Rattle my cage.
 
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Old 05-10-16, 07:05 AM
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I freakin LOVE this site.

Thank you for the detailed responses!

papernpaste:

Your info seems to be pretty dang comprehensive. The only thing that I was surprised by was your recommendation on using a chemical. Much of the googling (I know... dangerous!) I have done, folks were adamant that you only need hot water. Whats the deal with folks not recommending the chem? Does it 'hurt' to use it? Or is it just another chemical in your house that you (arguably) do not 'need'?

I am trying to decide the following (in terms of cost/time effectiveness):
  • Do we do whole job--including paint--DIY? Seems like it would take me a week if I can find a day laborer to help (would eat up vacation time)
  • Do we take down the paper and leave the priming/painting to the pros (thus they can do the wall prep work and ensure no defects)? Would this save us > $1000? If yes, then worth it to me
  • Otherwise, sounds like leaving job to the pros is best bet--they can get it done in < a week, I assume
 
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Old 05-10-16, 07:35 AM
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I think you're down to questions that you should ask contractors - have three or more bid the job, including different levels of DIY work so you can make a better educated decision.

I echo Bud, though, that if speed is really a concern, hiring it done is likely the best option.
 
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Old 05-10-16, 08:37 AM
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.... and there is a big difference between contractors, some will be able to do the job quicker than others. Also some contractors [usually the better ones] stay pretty busy so it might be difficult to get them to the job to coincide with your deadline. These are all things to discuss when they come out to give the bid.

While I don't think I've ever used the 'safe and simple' that papernpaste recommended, I have used several commercial products along with homemade concoctions and IMO hot water is just as effective. Along with the instructions stated in post 7 I'd add that scoring the paper will help the moisture get to the adhesive, this is especially necessary if it's vinyl paper. You can either use a utility knife or better yet a 'wheel' which is tailor made for stripping wallpaper with multiple knives set in it at a depth to just cut thru the paper and not into the wall.
 
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Old 05-11-16, 05:24 AM
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Sirk, I mentioned that "Safe-and-Simple" is a California Product so this should allay your concerns about it being a "chemical". Non-toxic, biodegradable, not an enzyme, has no smell, pet-and-people safe, and doesn't stain- pretty much says it all. It does work better than water or homemade concoctions but, when removing from a plaster substrate, release is usually much easier than from wallboard, as marksr stated in post #6. Also, his suggestion to use a scoring tool (post #10) is important if any of your wp is either a paper-backed vinyl or a vinyl coated paper that any solution doesn't seem to be absorbing. There is also a tool called a "paper tiger" that is more readily available that you hold on the surface and just move it around. This works very well on plaster as it is more forgiving (doesn't damage the paster like it would drywall while it pokes little tiny holes everywhere you scoot it around the paper surface). If all of your rooms are wallpapered and time is of the essence, you may want to bite the bullet and get a pro with a team that can knock it out in relatively short order. No one hates spending money more than me...no one. But, sometimes it's worth it. I don't want to discourage you but, it may be advisable to attack one room and see how long it takes you to do it. If you, then, think that it's just too much, find a contractor and ask for names and phone numbers or two or three of his previous customers and find out how happy they were. Best of luck.
 
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Old 05-11-16, 05:32 AM
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thanks again for the detailed responses.

Sounds like trying a single room might be a good start.
 
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Old 05-11-16, 06:02 AM
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The 'paper tiger' was what I was referring to when I said 'wheel' .... couldn't remember the name
 
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Old 06-09-16, 09:50 AM
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just as a follow up:

I was able to get about half the paper down. The paper tiger seemed to make the job a bit harder in my case.

What got me was how different the experience was in each room... Some worked better with just water, some with the solution recommended on this thread, some needed a steamer

Painter dropped $1500 off the estimate to finish the job and paint, so it was a worthy endeavor over 3 days

Many thanks for the helpful advice!
 
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Old 06-09-16, 01:56 PM
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Thanks for the update.

What got me was how different the experience was in each room.
I suspect a lot of the differences were in the type of paper and the prep that was done prior to it being hung. I've stripped some paper off of walls that were previously painted with oil base enamel where the paper just about came off intact. Vinyl wallpaper is generally the hardest to strip as it can be difficult to get the paste behind the paper wet. Grass cloth is some of the easiest. I'm surprised that the tiger wheel wasn't helpful.
 
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Old 06-09-16, 02:20 PM
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You hit the nail on the head.

Some rooms has vinyl then backing then sizing (? glue) then paper...over primed walls

One room had single layer of paper over unpainted sheetrock, but had tell-tale tool marks (from a tiger-wheel like tool) showing someone previously removed paper

One room had vinyl over non-vinyl over actual paper on the wall. The two layers came off in one piece on each wall--my favorite room

The tool just made things come off in small pieces and/or left marks on the sheetrock, even though I was trying my very best to lightly score the paper
 
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