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Other articles in this issue:
Removing Wallcoverings
HVLP or Airless
Easy Cleanup for Graffiti
Selecting a Sealant
Tools for Productions
Estimating, Etc.
Contractor Profile: Norman Efros
Manufacturer Profile: Stucco Creativa
Paint Industry News
Product News
Product Profiles
Painting Tips


PaintPRO Archives
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Wallpaper, Wallpaper Removal
Wallpaper, Wallpaper Removal


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Wallpaper, Wallpaper Removal

If the paper comes off does it leave the backing or glue on the wall? If the paper doesn't come off, does it absorb water or wallpaper remover solution? If it doesn't, you'll need to perforate or score.
by Susan Brimo-Cox

Vinyl-coated and foil papers need to be scored or perforated to allow the solution to penetrate, but in all instances, “the key is patience,” says Nicholson. “Soak the wall and let it sit. When it looks like it’s starting to dry, soak it again — three or four, or more times. The more times you soak a paper, the easier it’ll come off a wall.”

Enzyme-based wallpaper stripping products work differently, explains Bill Vaughn, category manager of home decor products at Zinsser Co. Inc. in Somerset, N.J. “Enzyme-based products literally break the paste down. … By breaking down the adhesive, you don’t have to worry about the product re-adhering.”

If you want an alternative to liquid solutions, you can use a gel. Gel products may be “the new kid on the block, but they’ve really taken off,” reports Vaughn. People like the additional benefits of a gel, he says. “It stays in place, you can see where you’ve applied it and it stays wet longer.”

Wallpaper, Wallpaper Removal

There are times when you might choose to use a steamer. “A steamer works well on all types [of wallpaper], but it really shines where a chemical won’t work,” observes Phil Cantelmi, owner of PMC Marketing & Sales Inc. in Denver, N.C. For example, “In an old home, where there may be multiple layers of paper or paper and paint combinations … steam can get behind all in one step, versus multiple applications.”

Steamers are not for everyone, though. “I’m not saying it’s not a messy job — it’s a tough job, a lot of work. [But] a lot of people and professionals like steamers because when you steam and scrape, you’re removing everything. You get down to the base wall the first time.”

In all cases, be sure to remove all the adhesive. Ligeri says substances in residue can “contaminate the new wallcovering, or the adhesive used to hang it.”

Neihaus uses stiff nylon mesh to scrub the wall surface to remove any remaining adhesive. “You just wad it up and use it with remover solution. The mesh collects the glue and doesn’t scratch the wall.”

Finally, before hanging a new wallcovering be sure to properly prepare the surface. This will aid in removal of the wallcovering in the future.

Remove it or leave it?
Most professionals will tell you: never hang wallcovering over previously papered walls. But in some cases — for example, if removal will cause significant wall damage — it may be the best option. If you consider hanging new paper over old, keep several things in mind.

Ligeri cautions, “The new adhesive can have a tendency to pull the existing wallpaper and lift it; the new paper could draw inks and colors from the paper under it; and the seams of the original paper could show through.”

Niehaus says if you must hang over existing paper, “prime with a good primer to seal the porosity of the [underlying] paper, and then use a good wallcovering primer before you hang the new paper.”

It also is likely that the manufacturer’s warranty will be voided if you hang paper over another paper, so protect yourself, Zekich advises. Get the consumer to sign a release that releases you from liability for product failure.

For more information about a variety of products that can help make wallpaper removal easier, visit the following Web sites:


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