Thursday, September 29, 2016

Wallpaper Removal. Is It Worth It?

Or More Like What Worked and What Didn't.

One of the first and most daunting tasks a lot of people face when they first move into an older home is what to do with the wallpaper. For most people, living with it just isn't an option. Wallpaper preferences are not only deeply personal, but trends come and go so quickly, it gets outdated pretty quickly.

When we moved into our 1974 house, there were six different wallpapers in the house and I wasn't going to keep any of them.

1. Rip off what you can.

Sounds like common sense, and it really is. If it's possible, do it. Some of the wallpaper in our house had been there so long and the air so dry, that it was practically falling off the wall as it was. THAT was awesome! In the living room, where an entire "focal" wall was papered, it came off in huge strips--like a quarter of the wall at once. My son and I had so much fun!

But even if it doesn't come off in large pieces, it's easier and cleaner than anything else.

While monotonous, pulling off pieces was highly satisfying when you get a large chunk. I started to feel like I was playing Minesweeper. In the picture above, you can see by the shadow that it isn't stuck, so I would tug on that part, and sometimes I'd get a big piece to come off, and others it would be disappointingly small.

What didn't come off easily, I tried to pry off with a scraper. NOT a good idea as it left pits and scratches and even huge gouges. Which meant that I would need to repair the wall before painting it.

2. Spray with Mixture of Laundry Detergent and Water

I wasn't very exact when I mixed this up. You could probably find a "recipe" somewhere online if you're worried about it, but I think I did about equal parts liquid laundry detergent and water in a spray bottle. After letting it sit only a few minutes, the liquid penetrated and the wallpaper was easily scraped off the walls.

The biggest problem with that--there was an awful residue left behind. I ended up washing it with a mild dish washing liquid and water mixture until the sticky was gone, and then rinsing with pure water. It took a little work to get rid of the slippery soapy feel and the sticky wallpaper paste residue.

3. Roll-On Wall Texture Paint

Looking for an easy way to texture the walls where I'd removed the wallpaper, I decided to try out wall texture paint. Instead of adding texture to the paint, I purchased a pre-mixed roll-on texture. I wouldn't recommend it. We tried to apply it with both the recommended texture roller, which made for very close, very rough peaks, and a regular paint roller, which still looked awful.

Not sure what I did wrong, but the texture paint didn't create an appealing look.

Not only that, but it didn't stick well at all. (Which may have been due to the laundry detergent trick.)

So I just tried to scrape it all off the wall so I could start over.

4. Forget What I Said and Do This Instead!

What I learned from this project was that the easiest solution is to rent a hopper and texture over the existing wallpaper. Period.

When we realized how long this process had taken just for a small bathroom (out of three) and one focal wall when we had entire entryway and breakfast room still to go, we knew something else needed to be done.

Enter hopper and texture. As in the kind you mix yourself and spray onto the walls. We rented a hopper from our local home improvement store, bought some of the dry texture, mixed it up, and were on our way.

Well, okay, so it wasn't quite that easy--we had to do a lot of prep. Most of the time it took us to do this project was in masking off light switches and wall outlets, as well as draping windows and doorways. And of course, you need to protect your floors as well, except that we were planning on replacing our carpet, so we only had to protect the floors in a couple of the rooms.

Prepping for texture. That took the most time.

The hopper was easy to use and it only took a few hours to do all the rooms versus the days I'd already spent trying to remove the wallpaper in the two rooms I'd started on. It was so worth it!

Be warned though, it is a very messy, fun, two-person job--which is why I didn't get pictures taken. Sorry about that. But it was so nice. My husband sprayed and I followed behind, lightly knocking down the texture with a knockdown knife. One tip about using the knife, you will need to make sure you wipe if off every time and look out for build-up that can leave lines in your texture.

One thing I loved--we didn't remove the wallpaper border, but with the texture, you couldn't even tell one was there under the texture.

The same wall in previous pictures.