I don’t particularly like to wallpaper but I don’t hate to do it. I like the variety of options that wallpaper offers. And, considering that we have an older home outfitted in an even older decor, it's usually a good fit.
What I do hate, however, is removing wallpaper. That’s something I think that prison inmates should be made to do.
How hard – or easy – a job it is depends on a lot of factors. Wallpaper, truly paper and with no backing, will either fall off the wall or cling to it for dear life. There is no middle ground.
Vinyl prepaste wallpaper may come off in larger strips, but it almost always has at least one patch, more often than not several patches, that are particularly stubborn. Wallpaper of any kind applied to other wallpaper or to painted surfaces usually clings well but can be removed easier than wallpaper attached to bare drywall.
That’s been my experience anyway. And it’s also why many people don’t like wallpaper.
When I began ripping the old wallpaper off in our bathroom last year, I had just discovered a great product: Zinnser’s DIF spray gel wallpaper remover. It's very easy to use and IT WORKS!
Score the wallpaper. Spray It down. Let it sit for 15 -20 minutes. Remove wallpaper! (Use a remover tool or just a dull putty knife – my preference – to bring up the edges and remove any excess remover.) You can find other wallpaper removing tips from Zinsser here.
Wipe the wall down with a damp sponge. Once it dries, you’re ready to paint or put up new wallpaper!
This stuff really came in hand last weekend as we demoed both downstairs bathrooms at the restaurant. It worked like a charm in the men’s restroom, on a modern drywall surface. But on the bare plaster wall in the ladies’ room? Not so much. I managed to get the border off, leaving a few lumps in the surface, but that wallpaper was stuck! I was afraid to fight with it too much, concerned about what might be underneath, fully believing it to be the original plaster walls. OUCH!
So, I sanded off the rough edge left by the border, then used the sandpaper to scuff up the wallpaper, wiped off the dust and painted it. I used a color similar to the background color of the wallpaper. Voila! New surface to paper over.
It went pretty well though even the layers of old wallpaper couldn’t hide years of imperfections in the walls. If you’re looking for a perfectly smooth surface, you’ll just have to start with drywall!