Replacing the wallpaper in your den, living room or bedroom with something fresh and new is always a fun project. Fortunately, thanks to recent innovations, what used to be a difficult task has become much easier with the advent of highly effective liquid and gel wallpaper removers. For those times when a standard remover isn't strong enough, there are also steamers available. They provide an efficient method of removing stickier wallpaper that's a little more stubborn. There are also a number of tools that will make things go more smoothly during the removal process. Consider the following questions to learn more about your options and how you can best tackle the project:
• What is the difference between gel and liquid removers?
• What are the benefits of gel removers? Liquid removers?
• How can a steamer be used to remove wallpaper?
• What tools can you use to make the job easier?
• Are there any special features that are important to you?
Liquid and Gel Removers, Steamers, Tools and Tips
Each type of wallpaper remover is highly effective when properly utilized. The method you choose to employ will be based more on what type of wallpaper and backing you have in place now and your personal preferences. Some wallpaper is designed to peel off in clean strips for easy removal, but this type of paper has only become popular in recent years, meaning that the paper you're taking down will most likely prove to be a little more difficult. If you decide to use a liquid or gel remover, a scoring tool will be necessary to allow the substance to penetrate the paper. Scrapers will be needed when using both chemical removers and steamers.
Liquid Removers: Liquid removers contain wetting agents that dissolve old adhesive. Since many wallpapers are water-resistant, the surface must be scratched, or scored, prior to application. Once the liquid has softened the adhesive, simply pull and peel or use a scraper to remove paper. Before you apply a liquid remover, make sure you cover the floor and any nearby furniture with a drop cloth or plastic sheeting. The easiest way to apply a liquid remover is with the use of a spray bottle, working on one area at a time. Paint rollers can be used as well. For working in corners or other areas where precision is required, use a sponge.
• Can also be used to wash away adhesive that remains behind after paper has been removed
• Generally needs to be mixed with warm or hot water prior to application, so consult manufacturer's
• Allow the solution to soak into the wall for the period of time stated by the manufacturer to ensure
Gel Removers: Gel removers function in a manner similar to liquid removers. The surface of wallpaper must be scored prior to application to allow the chemicals within the gel to penetrate and weaken adhesive. One advantage to using a gel is that it's somewhat less messy. It won't drip or run, allowing for more precise application and reducing the likelihood of it spilling onto the floor or furniture. Gels are often powerful, allowing them to handle the removal of wallpaper that has been applied to unprimed drywall. A good gel should liquefy the adhesive without softening or soaking the face of the drywall.
• Gels can be applied with a spray bottle, or by using a brush or roller
• Particularly effective on heavy-duty or clay-based adhesives
• Strong formula works well when removing commercial wallpapers
• Gel usually needs 20 to 30 minutes to soak in before paper can be removed
Steamers: Steaming has long been an option for removing wallpaper, and it's particularly effective on stubborn paper that resists the best efforts of chemical removers. Purchasing a steamer can be expensive, so you may want to consider renting one instead. Steamers are relatively easy to use. Simply fill the tank with water and let the steamer electrically heat it. As soon as steam begins pumping out of the unit's handheld metal plate (which resembles an iron), hold it against the wallpaper until the adhesive softens up. Attachments are available for working in corners and tighter spaces.
• Use a scraper to remove paper once it has been steamed and softened
• Use caution when working with steamers, as they can become quite hot
• Steam small sections at a time to make removal as easy as possible
• The wall's surface will be soft after steaming, so take care not to damage it while scraping
Points to Consider
|Liquid||• Spray Bottle
|• Protect surrounding objects from accidental coverage when applying
• Apply with a spray bottle, covering small areas at a time
|• Thick viscosity minimizes dripping and allows for precise application
• Colored gel makes it easier to see where gel has been applied
||• May be more economical to rent than purchase
• Protect face and hands during use to avoid burns
Tools and Tips: Before you apply a chemical remover, you'll need to prepare the surface in order for the process to be effective. Using a scoring tool will create holes in the surface of the wallpaper, allowing chemicals to reach the wallpaper's adhesive. Good scoring tools will require only light pressure and won't damage the wall itself. On some wallcoverings, especially vinyl coated styles, the outer layer may simply pull away from the paper backing, leaving only the paper and glue to be removed. Utility knives will come in handy for scoring trim and along cabinets. Applying a liquid or gel remover or steaming paper is only half the battle, however. To finish the job, you'll need the help of a scraper, which is used to peel off wallpaper. Look for a scraper with an angled blade that's designed not to penetrate too deeply, which can damage the wall. Once you've scraped off all the paper, clean the wall and remove any wallpaper remover residue with soap and water, or as directed on the remover packaging.
• Utility knives can be used to score wallpaper, but use great care to avoid damaging the surface of the wall
• Scrapers are available in a variety of shapes and types and include broad knives, wallboard knives and
• Chemicals may be safe to work with, but it's always a good idea to wear gloves and goggles to protect your
hands and eyes
• Start at the top of the wall and work your way down when applying chemicals
Easy-to-Strip Wallpaper: While in the process of selecting your new wallpaper, consider whether or not you're likely to replace it at any point. If you're the type of person who enjoys rearranging and redecorating periodically, choose wallpaper that's specially designed to peel off easily when you want to remove it.
Safety: Just because liquid and gel removers contain powerful chemicals doesn't mean they have to be dangerous. Some liquids and gels are both nontoxic and odorless, making application safer. These qualities are particularly beneficial if you have children or pets in your household.
Lightweight Steam Plate: If you're tackling a particularly big job with a steamer, try to find one that has a lightweight plate to help reduce arm fatigue.
Wallpaper/Paste Removal Sheets: Another method of wallpaper removal involves wetting sheets coated with chemicals and sticking them to scored wallpaper. After a period of time, the sheets are removed and wallpaper can then be scraped off.