Many decades ago, wallpaper was all the rage – in bedrooms, living rooms, nurseries, and even bathrooms and kitchens. But you want a fresh and updated look for your space, so you’ve decided that your old wallpaper has to go.
However, if you need wallpaper removal, you may have heard it can be tedious, annoying, and frustrating, especially if you’re trying to get rid of wallpaper that’s been stuck for many years. But should you have it removed? Or should you paint it over?
Perhaps you are tempted to paint over old wallpaper. After all, we’ve heard lots of horror stories about wallpaper removal. There are instances of drywall that’s crumbling after removing the paper. After having peeled away dozens of layers of paper, some homeowners may find more layers underneath, much to their surprise and frustration.
Most home improvement experts, including the National Guild of Professional Paperhangers, recommend removing wallpaper before painting whenever possible. That way, you’ll expect better results and fewer surface problems down the road.
For some homeowners looking to replace their wallpapers with paint, stripping the old wallpaper may not be a good idea. The walls may not be in good enough condition, especially if you live in an older home, and removing the old wallpaper may lead to more problems than prevent them. If you think this is the case with your home, painting over old wallpaper may be a better option.
Guided by many years of experience in the paint service industry, your professional painter can tell whether your old wallpaper should be removed or painted over. They consider the following factors before proceeding with the job:
- Generally, removing old paper from your walls before painting will provide a better and more durable paint finish than simply painting over it.
- Wallpaper is usually applied in vertical rows. The seams may show through the new topcoat when you paint over it, and you don’t want that. In addition, some wallpaper has a texture. Some papers have more embossed patterns that are more likely to show through the new paint.
- The paint’s moisture can loosen the wallpaper’s adhesive, which causes the paper to detach from the wall. It can also lead to other surface problems, such as peeling or bubbling.
Of course, expect to find potential problems when you remove the old wallpaper. Again, the work may be tedious. It may also be time-consuming, depending on how it was applied (or how much it was applied). If your house is older, expect to find dozens of wallpaper underneath, and each one will likely become more challenging to peel off. The drywall or plaster underneath could become damaged, with the wallpaper being the only thing that held it together at some point.
But if you find wallpaper that’s ripped or loose or has some holes, it’s an indication that the paper is starting to lose its hold. In this case, you should remove it before painting.
Check out these three methods of removing old wallpaper before painting:
You can easily strip some wallpapers. It is characterized by smooth and plastic-like textures, which include vinyl, fabric-backed vinyl, or fabric-backed paper. You can only find out if the wallpaper is strippable is to try peeling it off the wall by following a couple of steps:
- Find an edge or corner to your paper and pry it up using the tip of a putty knife or scraper.
- Grab the tip of the edge. Try to pull the wallpaper down while keeping it as close to the wall as possible. If the wallpaper is strippable, it should peel away from the wall when applying steady, gentle pressure. If you cannot peel it down, then you’re dealing with a non-strippable wallpaper. In this case, you’ll have to soak or steam the wallpaper off the surface.
- Score or perforate the paper and its backing in parts or sections so that water (or any other solution) can get through and loosen the adhesive. The pros recommend the Paper Tiger tool as it doesn’t do damage to the walls.
- Wet the perforated paper with hot water using a compression sprayer or a pump – never a regular spray bottle, a sponge, or a damp rag. Using the correct tools ensures that the paper and its backing will get sufficiently saturated.
- Let the paper soak for about 15 minutes and remove it using a scraper or a putty knife.
In this method, you’re using an electric steamer, which consists of an electrically heated water tank. A long hose then connects it to a steamer plate with a perforated surface. You may want to purchase or rent one.
- Make sure the water in the tank gets hot. Once it does, hold the plate against the wall.
- When you see the wall covering darken around the edges of the plate, it means that the paper is sufficiently moistened.
- Peel the paper downward with a utility knife or a wall scraper.
- Steam the same area two or three times to loosen the glue behind the paper.
With these methods, wallpaper removal has become less of a pain. But you don’t have to do it if you don’t want the hassle or don’t have the time. You can hire someone else, such as professional painting contractors, to do the job – especially if need to have wallpaper removal done!