removing wallpaper

Old 02-10-10, 04:56 PM
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Question removing wallpaper

I just purchased a cape style house that was built in 1940. I've removed the wall paper in all of the other rooms except for the dining room. I've begun to remove the wallpaper and have realized there are at least 5 layers of not only regular wallpaper but it looks like some type of vinyl too. No solution has really helped however the wallpaper is coming off, slowly. I've noticed some damage to the sheet rock in some areas as well. I'm wondering if it's even worth removing the wallpaper or if I should just replace the sheet rock.

How many layers is too many?
Old 02-11-10, 04:09 AM
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Welcome to the forums!

I'm not sure when drywall was first introduced but would expect a house built in the 40's to have plaster.

Have you tried scoring the wallpaper? Cutting slits in the paper allows the moisture to get behind the paper dissolving the glue making it easier to remove.... not that wallpaper removal is ever an easy job

Removal of the paper and repairing the plaster is usually preferred. The 2 best reasons to replace the walls is that would give you a chance to update the wiring and insulation.
Old 02-12-10, 11:55 PM
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I know what you mean about the wallpaper! I am a new home owner myself and my boyfriend and I were inexperienced in removing wallpaper. We tried everything everyone recommended but sadly, we tore some of the drywall off of our bathroom wall while romoving that awful wallpaper! We had to put more drywall up and sand. We eventually painted and now it looks great! It took a lot longer than I anticipated though. Sorry I haven't offered any good advice but I am here to say I know how you are feeling! We have to remove wallpaper from several more rooms so I will be interested in what anyone has to offer as well.
Old 02-13-10, 08:56 AM
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I've removed plenty of wall paper in my house. It seemed as if every room was wall papered. Everyone suggested scoring and then applying a DIF type product and then scraping.

What I found easier, and this was case specific for me, was to pull the wall paper off by hand. Now, this was only the top layer. It was easy to do because it came off in big sections. Once the top layer was off and the paper backing was exposed, I sprayed with the DIF and let it sit for a few minutes.

After that I was able to pull whole sheets of paper off with much less of a mess than scoring and scraping. It also felt a lot better as well as large sections of the walls would come off at a time.

The whole scraping thing was too tiresome to me and very frustrating.

As far as having several layers of wall paper.... I'm guessing the scoring would have to be the way to go. Just be sure that you score deep enough. I would say to use a sprayer and the concentrated mix of DIF applying generously with good coverage. This would give you the least frustration in my opinion. There was nothing more disheartening than trying to scrape a 1' x 2' section and not getting results quick enough.

I also had another problem... The previous installers did a horrid job. They separated the wall paper with a border as chair rail. They obviously installed that border with construction adhesive. I guess they couldn't get it to stick with normal wall paper adhesive. The walls were tore up behind those sections. I ended up sanding down that section as best as possible and installing a very high, built up chair rail with 6" bead board behind the decorative chair to hide it.

Oh the JOYS of removing wall paper!
Old 02-13-10, 04:26 PM
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My .02 - I think it's easier to just tear the walls down and put up new ones.

A: demolition is so much fun, how is removing wall paper fun?

B: drywall is $6 per 4x8 sheet, really - that's the cheapest part of any project.

C: ugh....5 layers of wallpaper.....
Old 02-14-10, 04:43 AM
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Sheetrock may be cheap, but it is the finishing that takes the time. I would NOT demo it. Even after a failed attempt at removing the wallpaper, if there are gouges, you can always skim coat the existing sheetrock for a good finish.
Old 02-15-10, 01:25 PM
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Been there done that

Hi Faithe,

My condolences. One of my previous homes had multiple layers of wallpaper in several rooms -- and in some rooms, there was paint over the wallpaper (or in between layers, like paper/paper/paint/paper/paint). Oh what fun!

My experience was that wallpaper stripping chemicals, and steamers, just didn't work. And yes, I scored the wallpaper. Even with scoring, the chemicals (and the steamer) just couldn't reach enough of the glue to loosen any decent size pieces.

I finally resorted to just hand-scraping. A razor-blade type scraper wouldn't work, the multi-layers were too tough and the razor blades would snap off. The tool that worked best for me was a wood chisel! About 2" wide. I had to -re-sharpen it frequently. The wallpaper came off in tiny little pieces, it was brittle and broke into little pieces like confetti. Yes, it was HARD work, very tiring on wrists & forearms. I could only do part of a room at a time, then rest the arms for a day or two. And yes, I ended up with a lot of gouges in the wall (it was plaster over lath) that I had to spackle, but that was the easy part.

You might try a tool called a "Paper Tiger", it is a special slitter made exactly for this purpose. Home improvement stores sell them. It didn't exist when I was doing the job. It works better than just using a hobby knife (easier to control and makes more slits) -- but still might not create enough openings to allow the chemical (or steamer) to get to all the glue.

Also -- in general I have had much better luck with a steamer, than with the current stripping chemicals (like DIF). I don't know what's in the chemical strippers, but I think they are less effective than the ones that were sold 20 years ago -- which probably had more toxic & hazardous chemicals in them but worked better. Anyhow, a small steamer isn't very expensive, or you can rent one. It is time-consuming, though (but no moreso than chemicals).

Also, I agree with Riggstat, it usually works better if you can remove the outer layer of the wallpaper first. I just stripped a room in my current house, fairly thinck vinyl wallpaper I hung about 20 years ago. I used a paint scraper to get the top layer off (no chemicals), leaving the paper under-layer still glued to the wall. Then I used my steamer on the underlayer, which came off in sheets after steaming. In tight spots (above doors, etc) where the steamer platten wouldn't fit, I used DIF, which worked OK.

I would not recommend tearing out the drywall and starting over -- unless you want to do some re-wiring or plumbing or HVAC work in the walls. Demolition sounds like fun, but it is extremely messy (the dust is incredible!) and hanging drywall is no picnic, either.

However, both of my houses had plaster walls -- which makes it a little easier to strip wallpaper, in my opinion (harder surface).

Good luck!
Old 02-16-10, 12:49 AM
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The Demolition sounds like fun, but it is extremely messy and hanging drywall is no picnic, either.
Old 03-05-10, 05:35 PM
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FWIW.....girlfriend and I HATED the wallpaper in our bathroom. Tried scoring, "Paper Tiger"...fabric softner....all the removal luck.

Saw a Wagner steamer at Menards for $50. Best $50 I ever spent!! It allowed us to peel off 3 layers of UGLY nasty wallpaper in about and hr and a half. You could probably rent one somewhere, but we bought the Wagner and it paid for itself with one use (in my opinion).

WHATEVER you do....good luck. I HATE wallpaper!

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