Painting Wallpaper Contractors Magazine

Surface Prep SteamerEffective surface preparation, appropriate products prevent wallcovering removal from becoming a sticky situation. Moisture must saturate the paste film for at least 20 minutes to fully loosen wallcovering. Any situation that prevents this process from occurring results in a very difficult removal.
By Jeff Woodard

means “off with the old and on with the new.” Whether planning to add a fresh coat of paint or a quality wallcovering, removing the old wallcovering is a procedure that can be pulled off with proper preparations and precautions.

According to Joe Parker, president of the National Guild of Professional Paperhangers and owner of Precision Painting & Wallcovering in Chadds Ford, Pa., “Nothing works better than scoring the wallcovering with a tool that makes tiny perforations. Another way would be to use very coarse sandpaper, then soak the wallpaper with a removal mixture.”

“The most common way is to use a stripping chemical mixed in warm water, ” says John Little, president of Atlanta’s NGPP chapter. “I use a garden type sprayer to apply to the wallcovering.”

As a general rule, moisture must saturate the paste film for at least 20 minutes to fully loosen wallcovering, says Jim Turner, NGPP board member and owner of Regency Wallcraft in suburban Columbus, Ohio. “Any situation that prevents this process from occurring results in a very difficult removal, ” says Turner. Such “situations” can be caused by wallpaper applied to bare drywall; to bare plaster; to low-grade builder’s flat paint; and to wallcovering primer or paint with a satin, semi- or gloss surface.

Using a warm-water spray usually loosens the adhesive, allowing easy removal of the wallcovering, says Parker. The only time warm or hot water will not accelerate the reactivation of pastes and adhesives, adds Turner, is on walls painted with poor quality latex paint. “Most failed attempts at wallcovering removal are due to insufficient moisture application. However, there has to be a balance — too much moisture will damage paint surfaces, woodwork and floorings, ” says Turner. Having plenty of towels available to absorb excess solution is an excellent idea, as is covering...

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