Before you begin be aware that wallpaper removal is often labor intensive and can cause critical damage to the walls if it is not completed properly. Most removal damage is as a result of lack of a wallpaper primer before the walls were papered, resulting in the glue being absorbed into the wallboard. The top layers of wallboard (paper) will try to come back off with the wallpaper backing. If this occurs in large areas, call a professional.
You will discover many differing types of wallpaper on the market today. Some are dry stripable, solid vinyl and fabric backed papers can usually be removed by simply pulling them from the wall with no soaking.
Most residential wallpapers are of a "vinyl coated" type. Vinyl coated papers are by far the most common used in residential homes. The vinyl face of these papers are usually "dry stripable" meaning the face will separate and leave only the paper backing on the wall. Start by removing as much of the vinyl face as possible. Locate a loose corner, you may need a putty knife or scraper to get you started.
After all of the vinyl face is removed, the paper backing must also be removed. The paper backing will require a wet removal. Fill a five gallon bucket to about half full with warm water, add about a cap full of fabric softener. Switch off the electrical power for the room. Apply this solution to the wall using a paint roller or garden sprayer, a sponge may be used in corners. Wet a four or five foot section of the wall and ensure the wall section remains saturated with solution for about ten minutes. Remove the wet backing with a four or six inch putty knife or scraper.
Once all of the backing is removed, finish cleaning the walls with a hand sponge and fresh solution of fabric softener and warm water. Allow the walls to dry out and apply a wallpaper primer should you plan to re- wallpaper the walls. If you plan to paint, apply an acrylic primer/sealer to the walls before painting.
One of the main things to remember when using a solution to strip your wallpaper off is, Do not spray or saturate electrical outlets or switches with your solution, switch off the electrical supply to the room before wetting the walls. You do not want to cause any damage to your electrics. This is a very costly mistake to make. Damaged electrical wiring is dear to put right. This can be messy work so remember to place rolled towels or bed sheets along at the base of the walls before wetting them so that they can catch the solution run-off.
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