Start Stripping - Wallpaper, That is

That moss green flocking on gold foil was delightful back in the ‘60s, but we have certainly moved on from there. Maybe you could have the wall declared a heritage site and leave the wallpaper on it. Then you could charge people to see what walls looked like 50 years ago. No? Okay, then, let's talk about how we're going to get that stuff off the walls so you can paint it the color of your dreams.

Easier Said Than Done

Theoretically (don't you just love that word?) you should be able to just wet the wall and, starting at a seam, pull the paper off in large pieces. However, if that really happens you will probably be the only person on the planet to have experienced it. In fact, the way it usually goes is much more like peeling scotch tape off a piece of plastic, in tiny bits and pieces.

Preparing The Way

There are tools available these days to make the job easier and with some preparation and a load of patience, you can get the job done without hurting yourself or the walls. Begin by pushing all of the furniture into the center of the room, or take it out of the room if you have somewhere to place it. Then, if it is in the room, cover it with a drop sheet and cover the floors with drop sheets as well. Take the covers off the switches and outlets and put them where you will find them again.

Now you are ready to spray the walls down to moisten the glue on the back of the wallpaper. This can present a problem in the case of vinyl coated or multi layer wallpapers, which have been designed to slough off water. That's what makes them "washable." The result is that you can't get the water to penetrate the wallpaper unless you make holes in the paper. There are a few ways to do this, but the best is to go to the local home store and purchase a wallpaper-piercing tool. This little gadget allows you to make tiny punctures all over the wallpaper without risking gouges in the drywall from a knife. The tools fits in your hand and you just zip it over the walls then the water will be able to soak through to the glue.

Getting The Paper Off The Wall

Once the wallpaper has been scored, you can wet it down with a solution of vinegar and warm water using a spray bottle-or a bucket and sponge. Either way, you'll get the wall good and wet, although the spray bottle is probably a bit faster and cleaner. If you don't want to use vinegar, you can purchase a non-toxic chemical to mix with water that will do the same thing. After about half an hour, pick up a corner of the wallpaper at a seam and pull it back, at a 45-degree angle. With any luck, it will peel off.

Chances are you're going to need to use a putty knife held on an angle to encourage the paper to lift and to remove some stubborn pieces. Keep spraying and working with the knife as you go around the room peeling and scraping. Before long, the wall will be void of wallpaper and you'll be ready to clean it.

Clean Up And Repair

Get rid of the glue with a mixture of TSP and warm water. Rinse the wall after you use the TSP and let it dry thoroughly. The glue should be gone and now you can paint the wall with white shellac. This stops any moisture from soaking into the drywall. Then you'll be able to address any gouges, holes and scrape marks with some drywall compound. Sand and put on a coat of primer paint and you're good to go.