So I walk into one of my jobs the other day and what do I see but one of my painters making a massive rookie mistake: trying to remove wallpaper that didn’t want to be removed. Ugh! There goes an extra day of prep and many hundreds of dollars right out the door. We were preparing some wallpapered walls for texturing and repainting. I thought I had sufficiently explained to him how to remove wallpaper, as I will shortly explain to you. Evidently not.
Let me see if I can paint an adequate word picture for you.
The walls looked as if I had locked him in the room and told him that he had exactly one hour to remove all the wallpaper using only his teeth and if he was unsuccessful, I would kill his entire family. No exaggeration. I mean come on, I’ve had homeowners do this. But even they usually stop after having destroyed just one wall, then call me to come over and save the marriage. But to destroy an entire room….no excuse. Okay, I got that off my chest.
So what was the solution then?
Here we go. First of all, you can have a good painting result even if you don’t remove the wallpaper underneath it. Anyone who would dispute this is wrong. In my entire life, I am probably only an expert at one thing. And walls, wallpaper, and wallpaper removal are it. Marriage, HA! Children, you’ve got to be kidding. Friendship, so-so at best. But for wallpaper prep and installation, you’d be hard-pressed to find any one in the world who knows more. I’ve been in this business for 37 years and I personally prepped and installed more than 4,000 rolls of wallpaper per year for 25 straight years. That’s more than 100,000 rolls of wallpaper. Are you duly impressed? God I feel old. So trust me, wallpaper absolutely does not need to be removed.
However, I do recommend at least attempting wallpaper removal and seeing what happens, before deciding to go over it.
How to remove wallpaper – What you need to know:
Take a razor knife, pocket knife or even a skinny screwdriver and pick up a corner. Take hold of the corner and pull, and one of four things is going to happen:
- The sheet comes off in one fell swoop.
- The sheet starts to come off and then mysteriously quits.
- It comes off in tiny pieces, one inch or less.
- The front of the wallpaper comes off, leaving a paper backing still attached to the wall.
If it comes off easily, then yippee!! The wallpaper removal should go smoothly and you are now ready for the next step. If it starts to come off but then stops, cease immediately. It’s time for another technique. If it comes off in tiny one-inch pieces, definitely cease (recall the removing-with-your-teeth scenario). And if the front comes off leaving the backing still stuck, go ahead and get the front off. We’ll discuss the backing later in Part 2.
Remember: More important than knowing how to remove wallpaper, is knowing when to stop!
So there you have enough to start with! Read Part 2 for the rest of this gripping scenario. (If you want some wallpaper inspiration – proof that there is a happy ending to all this! – go to our Wallpaper Gallery.) In the meantime contact me if you have any wallpaper removal questions that can’t wait.