Take Off Old Wallpaper to Prep for Home Interior Painting

Out with the old and in with the new. Especially if you’ve moved into a great heritage style house that you want to update a bit with fresh, clean walls to show off some of your favourite artwork.

Unfortunately, that means removing any faded, peeling and outdated wallpaper that’s been clinging on for dear life for who knows how many years. Let’s face it: the country rooster and hen pattern in the kitchen has gone well past its vintage charm phase, and is just plain ugly.

Before enjoying the look and feel of those rooms freshly painted in exciting new colours, if you’re keen to do away with that nasty wallpaper yourself, prepare for some messy times ahead. Wallpaper removal takes many hours of hard and dirty work, especially if you’re not sure ahead of time what you’re getting into.

Tips for Removing Wallpaper Without Making a Mess

Step 1: Take off the top layer. Most wallpaper has a top layer that’s the first thing you’ve got to remove. In some cases, you don’t even have to wet the top layer, since this will only add into the mess once the top layer mixes in with the glue or other adhesive part of the backing. Make sure that your floor stays clean by covering it with a plastic tarp. This cover will also serve as a base where you can place the peelings. When removing the top layer of wallpaper, try not to use a scoring paper or a knife. This can cause partial damage to the wall and you’ll have to apply plaster or other filler to cover that damage before the painting can begin.

Wallpaper RemovalStep 2: Remove the backing. One of the most effective ways to take off the adhesive wallpaper backing is to use a supply of warm water and a wallpaper remover or solvent. Other alternatives you can use are vinegar, household cleaner or dish detergent. Since this is the really messy and wet part of the task, try to make your work easier by using a paint roller to soak a portion of the wallpaper backing, instead of spraying the wall or rubbing it with a wet rag. Once the wallpaper backing becomes wet and soggy, score off that part with a taping knife or a scraper.

Step 3: Cleaning and finishing. Now you’re at the last part of the wallpaper removal and closer to that much anticipated home interior painting you’ve been waiting for. Thoroughly clean the wall and remove any residue left from the wallpaper adhesive. Your goal at this stage is to make sure that the wall is virtually clean and free from any hints of wallpaper glue. To do this, you’ll need a bucket of warm water with a glue solvent and a rag. Wipe the area and scrape off the glue very carefully to avoid any damage to the wall. Rinse the area with clean, cold water from another bucket. Repeat this step until all residue is removed.

Sound like fun? Didn’t think so. Removing the existing wallpaper to prep for painting is best left to the pros. So is an excellent, hassle-free home interior painting job. Think about it before you reach for the buckets and rags.

Vancouver painter and contractor Peter Byrne“PETER BYRNE is the owner and hands-on manager of Kassel Painting Limited. In the last two decades he has run over 1500 painting projects totalling $5.5M. There is little that can go right (or wrong) on a job-site he has not seen, solved, and lived to talk about.”

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