Traditional Method for Stripping Wallpaper
Stripping wallpaper, more than anything else, requires patience. If stripping wallpaper is not the worst job in the entire world we would like to know what is!
Stripping wallpaper easily and quickly depends on getting to the paste underneath the paper and rendering it in such a way that it dissolves very easily. The traditional method usually involves buckets of warm water.
First you must protect your floor and furnishings if they are to stay in the room. Use a polythene dust sheet wherever possible as there is usually a great deal of water around.
Don't waste any time here and try to get the paper off without wetting it unless it is a vinyl paper. If it is vinyl, then you should be able to peel away the top vinyl layer leaving the porous backing paper on the wall.
Using a hobby knife, score lines in the paper to break the surface. Do not press too hard or you will damage the wall. This will allow the water, or steam, you are going to apply to soak into the backing paper and effectively dissolve the adhesive.
Having scored the paper (proprietary scoring tools can now be found in DIY stores) fill a bucket with warm to hot water....Now this is the bit where you will score points over your competitors...Add some washing up liquid to the water. This is a pro trick which helps to dissolve the wallpaper adhesive and makes life a lot easier in most circumstances. Apply the water to the paper with a decorators sponge and leave to soak in for ½ and hour, then repeat the soaking. We told you there would be plenty of water about. Make sure the water is hot ( Do not scald yourself) every time. Be patient and let it soak in again for a while.
Find a scraper you are happy with. A wide scraper is difficult to use because it is hard to keep a constant pressure over the full width of the blade. This leads to small strips being missed which are a real pain to go back on. We always use a 3 inch scraper.
Don't be afraid to add more water as you move along the wall.
For particularly stubborn papers, especially those with paint on, its a lot easier and far more effective to use a steam stripper. Steam strippers are so easy to use and very effective indeed. We always use one, whatever the paper or conditions.
Water is heated by an element within the machine, and just like your kettle, when it boils it steams. This steam is piped to a flat steaming plate which is held on the wall. The hot steam does the same job as the hot water above and "melts" the wall paper adhesive. Its then very easy to use your scraper and strip off. Be careful not to leave the steamer plate on the wall in one place too long as it can burst the plaster. Keep moving gently backwards and forwards rather than dwell in one place.
These days its as cheap to buy a steam stripper as it is to hire one, but remember when filling the steam stripper with water, do not put washing up liquid in!
If you are lucky enough to have a new wall to paper, take a look at our project on preparing new walls for wallpaper. We also have many other decorating projects in our decorating projects section.