Removing stubborn wallpaper

Removing stubborn wallpaper

Trying to redecorate for the new year but having trouble with stubborn wallpaper?  The bad news is that you do need to get it off the wall, as you’ll get air bubbles if you wallpaper over it, or the finish won’t be great if you paint over it.  The good news is that there is a way, it just may take a bit of time.

First things first

Always protect your furniture and flooring before you start removing wallpaper.  Remove what furniture you can and move the rest into the middle of the room. Then cover any remaining furniture and the flooring with plastic sheeting or dust sheets.  Cover all switches and sockets with plastic sheeting and painter’s or masking tape.  It is also essential to make sure you have switched off the electricity for the room.

If you have drywall, you will need to be very careful as it is more fragile than plaster.  You can tell by knocking on the wall – drywall produces an empty, hollow sound.

Next, try gently removing a bit of wallpaper with a putty knife.  This will give you a idea of how easily it comes off the wall and also how many layers of wallpaper there are.  If it comes off without a problem, you can simply use a remover solution to remove the rest of the wallpaper.

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Tackling stubborn wallpaper

If you live in an older house or the wallpaper has been up for many years, it may well take more time and work to remove it.  Older wallpaper is much harder to remove than modern types, and there may well be a few layers hiding behind.

A steamer is the best idea for getting rid of stubborn wallpaper, they can be rented from most DIY shops.  You will need to wear both goggles and heat resistant gloves to avoid any burns from the steam.  Make sure you read the instructions carefully before you get started.

Place the steamer on a sturdy piece of wood or metal so it doesn’t damage your floor or furniture.  Do not allow it to boil dry at any point.  Once you have filled it and can see steam starting to rise, you are ready to get started.  Choose one side of the wall to start from and work your way from the bottom to the top, or top to bottom, of each section.

Hold the steamer to the wallpaper for at least ten seconds, so the steam can get to work and loosen it.  Once it is starting to come away from the wall, set the steamer down carefully and use a putty knife to remove that section of wallpaper.  Slide the knife under the wallpaper, being careful not to dig into the wall.  Work your way across the wall section by section.

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The clean up

Once you have stripped off all the stubborn wallpaper, the odds are there will be adhesive left on the wall, which also needs to be removed.  You can buy remover solution, or make your own with hot water, washing up liquid and a spoonful of baking soda.  If the glue is really stubborn, add in some vinegar, around half a cup per litre of solution.  Use a spray bottle to spray it on the wall, or put it in a container and use a sponge to wipe it onto the wall, squeezing out the excess liquid first.  Then, scrub the wall with an old cloth to remove the glue.  Any remaining glue can be scraped off with a putty knife.  Once the wall is entirely clear, wipe with a clean cloth to remove the solution.

Then let the walls dry completely before starting to hang new wallpaper or painting.  If there is any damage to the walls, now is the time to fix it with some joint compound.

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If this all sounds far too time consuming, why not just get the experts in to do the job for you! Herts Decorators provide high quality and professional decorating services to our clients across Hertfordshire.  Book a free estimate with our team today.

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George Ryland