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Remove Wallpaper Without Coming Unglued

It's inevitable. That orange and green striped velvet wallpaper in the rumpus room doesn't quite work now that the room is your home office. It's got to come down. You have two choices to "unstick" your wallpaper: apply a chemical remover or rent a steamer.

Before you decide, peel up a corner of the paper and see if it comes off easily. Some papers are "peelable," which means you can remove it with out too much fuss.

If you aren't lucky enough to have peelable paper, then you'll need to make a choice. If you decide to use the chemical remover, be sure you have a wallpaper scoring tool on hand. If you don't, get one at your home supply store. Roll the scoring tool across your wall diagonally and intersect the lines so that a diamond shape about the size of your palm appears. Then use a sponge or a spray bottle to apply the chemical solution on the wall. Let it soak into the wall for the amount of time suggested in the manufacturer's directions. Many chemical removers will be in a concentrate form, so be sure to dilute the remover to the appropriate amount.

After the chemical has soaked into the wall, use a wallpaper scraper or putty knife to remove the paper from the wall. You should scrape off the paper carefully, but if you nick or gouge the wall occasionally, don't worry-simply touch up those spots with spackle before you paint. If the wall was sized before papering the wallpaper should come up easily. Sizing a wall means that a thin layer of vinyl-acrylic sizing (similar to primer) was applied to the wall before paper was glued down, which makes the wallpaper easier to remove. If the wall was not sized, you will know because the paper won't come off of the wallboard and the wallboard may turn to mush as you apply more solution and try to remove the paper. If this begins to happen, stop using the solution and tear down as much of the wallpaper as you can. Then sand down the wall to remove any remaining paper and glue and paint the wall.

Instead of using a chemical solution you can rent a steamer, which is less likely to damage the wall surface. This machine makes steam that dissolves the old glue, which lets you peel the paper from the wall. Using a steamer tends to take longer than the chemical solution, but you have the advantage of preserving your walls and not breathing the chemicals during the process.

If the wallpaper is non-porous, like vinyl or foil, you should score it to allow the steam to get to the glue. Start at the top of the wall, and once you get a corner of the paper up, place a putty knife behind the paper and work it off of the wall. Steam the paper as you go down the wall, being sure that all glue and the paper has been removed.

After you have removed any type of wallpaper, by any method, you should use a sponge to wipe down the walls with warm water. This will soften any remaining glue and allow you to scrape it off with a putty knife or scraping tool.

Sources used in this article include True Value Hardware and

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