Revitalize paper- & border-covered walls with efficient removal techniques
Take on a traditionally messy project with ease using new highly effective liquid and gel wallpaper removers. For those times when a standard remover isn't strong enough, steamers can help finish the job. There are also a number of tools that will aid during the removal process.
Safety Tip: When using chemicals or steam to remove wallpaper, always protect your hands, eyes and face.
Liquid, Gel & Steam Removers
The type of wallpaper that’s being stripped determines the type of removal technique used. For 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.
Tip: 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, so if you’re stripping older paper you likely will not have this option.
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. It can also be used to wash away adhesive that remains behind after paper has been removed.
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.
Liquid removers generally need to be mixed with warm or hot water prior to application. Allow the solution to soak into the wall for the period of time stated by the manufacturer to ensure maximum effectiveness.
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 and effective in removing wallpaper that has been applied to unprimed drywall or using clay-based adhesives. A good gel should liquefy the adhesive without softening or soaking the face of the drywall.
Use a spray bottle, brush or roller to apply and let sit for 20 – 30 minutes so it can soak in. Gels can be applied with a spray bottle, or by using a brush or roller.
Steaming is a relatively easy and particularly effective technique for removing stubborn paper that resists the best efforts of chemical removers. You can rent or purchase a steamer.
Fill the tank with water and let the steamer electrically heat it. As soon as steam begins pumping out of the unit's metal ironing-plate, 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, but take care not to damage the wall. Steam small sections at a time to make removal as easy as possible and always protect your face and hands during use to avoid burns.
Tools & Tips
Before you apply a chemical remover, you must 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 wall coverings, 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.
After steaming, use a scraper with an angled blade designed not to penetrate too deeply, which can damage the wall.
Start at the top of the wall and work your way down when applying chemicals