There are a variety of home made recipes out there which claim to be able to soak through paper and dissolve glue. Some recipes call for vinegar…others suggest fabric softener. Typically, you will need a scoring tool or knife, a bucket to mix in, a way to apply it to the walls, and a scraper. Firstly, you remove the top layer of paper by hand. You do this dry so it can be very messy, slow, and create a lot of dust for which you will need a mask. Then you apply your home made recipe to the wall, and try to scrape the residue off. It’s possible that you will have to sponge the wall with soap and water several times to remove all of the solution and paper left on the wall.
This method might be a frugal technique, but as it is not proven, it might not work. You could then be left with a messy, soggy wall and have to resort to another method, consuming more time and money.
Chemical solutions involve a variety of detergents or enzymes to speed up the process of weakening the adhesive bonds between the paper and the plaster or drywall. As the chemical is doing all the work for you while you grab a coffee and wait for it to soak in, these methods often involve much less elbow grease than using a steamer! Don’t be put off by the word ‘chemical’ either, as this doesn’t mean you have to use aggressive or harsh ingredients. By using a chemical solution, you may be amazed at how easy it is to remove large sheets of wallpaper at a time – no more need for scraping bits off at a time like with a steamer. Whilst there are a few different chemical solutions on the market, it can be confusing to know which bits of kit you’ll need. We recommend Simple Strip, by Wallwik which is a great value kit at $54.99 with everything you need from start to finish. It contains:
A concentrated ‘Power Solution’ – non toxic and biodegradable
‘HydroSheets’ – resuable
A heavy-duty sprayer
A well-designed scoring tool which helps to protect the plaster
A plastic skimmer, which helps you gently remove the paper without damaging the wall
So how does Simple Strip work? Firstly, you gently score the wall to allow the mixture to soak in. You mix up the Power Solution, and use the special sheets to apply it to the walls. You keep it hydrated using more of the solution in the pressure sprayer, and then after 30 minutes (or longer if the wallpaper is very stubborn), you should be able to remove the old wallpaper IN WHOLE SHEETS 85% of the time. An advantage of this kit is that you can always top it up with more Power Solution (available separately as well as in this kit) and the HydroSheets are reusable up to 50 times. Although, I don’t know about you, but as a home improver, I would really rather not strip 50 rooms of wallpaper, however easy it may be! The good thing is this is also suitable for professional use, and there is even a PRO KIT which you might want to consider if you have a very large project.
A steamer works by forcing hot water under a high pressure through the paper to loosen its grip on your wall. You can score the paper first, to help the water get in. You’ll be working on one small patch at a time, so it can be slow and messy. Add into this the fact that you’ll be refilling the water reservoir every time it runs out, you may feel you’re constantly stopping and starting.
Steamers can be costly to hire, and unless you plan to use one extensively, you probably don’t want to invest in purchasing one for yourself. Be wary of the budget steamers, they can lack the power and capacity that’s required to succeed with this method, and ultimately can be a false economy. Bear in mind that whilst the low-end products can be as cheap as around $50, the top end goes right up to around $1,000. With tools, it’s important to carefully consider any investment based on the principle that you do always get what you pay for. However, regardless of the quality of the steamer that you use, there is a risk of what’s called ‘blowing’ the plaster. Due to the intense heat of the steamer, the plaster can develop sudden cracks, or come away from the wall completely. Whilst it’s not a very common occurrence, if you are unlucky enough to experience this problem, you may have to re-plaster the entire wall…
Additionally, consider whether this method is right for you personally. Even light-weight steamers will be tiring to hold up to the wall for extended periods. It can also be hot and sweaty work with all that steam in the air. Burns are a real hazard so you’ll need to take safety precautions. The final big disadvantage of this method is that the amount of moisture created can be damaging to the wall and the floor in your home, especially in an older home or a damper climate. The main advantage of this method is that it’s not complicated – you simply have to put the elbow grease (and money) in. You don’t need to be an expert; but you do have to work hard with this method!
At-A-Glance Guide to Steamers
When looking at wallpaper removal systems, it can seem overwhelming as there appear to be so many products on the market, and tons of experts who want to tell you how to do it…it’s easy to see why homeowners are often convinced to part with large sums of money to get the professionals in rather than face it themselves. However, you really CAN do this task yourself. And the good news is, in reality, there are only THREE TYPES of wallpaper removal techniques. Not so overwhelming after all! The three ways wallpaper can be removed are:
1) Steamer equipment
2) Chemical solutions
3) Home-made solutions
Pretty much any wallpaper stripping technique you come across will fall into one of the above categories! So we’ve already narrowed our search right down! In the next post I’ll look at these three different methods and we’ll think about some of the pros and cons.
If it’s supposed to be such a difficult job, is it really worthwhile? Well, the answer to this depends on you. What result are you looking for? Let’s look at the main pros and cons of stripping wallpaper vs covering it up with more paper, or paint.
If you’ve ever stripped paper before, you’ll probably know why home improvers have come to loathe this essential part of wall preparation. If you haven’t stripped wallpaper before, you may be wondering why people make such a fuss about it. Well don’t worry! Even though there are several pitfalls to be aware of, with a little preparation and forward planning, it’s easy for even the least experienced decorator to achieve a great result.
So, why is it considered so hard to remove wallpaper? Firstly, you don’t always know what you’re getting into, especially if you’ve just acquired the property. The more layers of wallpaper there are, the harder it can be to get through all of them. Secondly, you often have no way of knowing what kind of adhesive and primer (if any) was used. So it’s hard to predict what will actually get through to the underlying plaster. Thirdly, it can be a little messy. What goes up, must come down…except wallpaper has a habit of disintegrating into lots of pieces when you try to peel it off. Add to all of the above factors an old-fashioned textured wallpaper – something like a woodchip or an embossed paper…and you may feel that you have your work cut out for you. Or should that be, you’ll want someone else to cut your work out for you?
There are some ways round this though so read through our guides to discover how to minimise mess.