What are the best methods for removing wallpaper and preparing my room for painting?

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Answered by: Stephen, An Expert in the Interior Decorating - General Category
Wallpaper uses many different forms of paste when hanging. Depending upon what was used, removing wallpaper can be very simple or extremely difficult. There are two main types of paste used today. One is a "pre-pasted", applied to the back of the wallpaper and the other is a heavy duty paste used on wallpapers and vynals with no pre-paste added. Some vynals are "strippable", and will peel easily off the wall however, they can leave a lot of paste on the wall surface which needs to be removed before painting which I will explain later. The best methods for removing wallpaper are using a "steamer" or using a soaking solution. Using a steamer is time consuming and will only remove one square foot of wall paper at a time. Using a solution is faster and it is applied to the wallpaper using a common garden sprayer. Wallpaper remover solution can be purchased in concentrate form at most hardware stores. Products vary so follow the deluting instructions on the bottle. It is best to soak one wall at a time and it may require soaking more than once. Let the solution be your friend by keeping the wallpaper wet and allowing time for the glue to break down, about fifteen minutes. Be sure to use a towel to absorb the overspray and runoff. Removing wallpaper with a 3" stiff bladed putty knife is my preferred method. It is easy to handle and causes less gouging to the wall, less repairs. Before I use my putty knife on the wet wallpaper, I soak the next wall I will be working on and that allows more time for the solution to soak in before I spray it again. Keep repeating the method until all of your wallpaper is removed and you are ready to prepare the walls for painting.

Now you are ready to clean the walls of any residual wallpaper and paste. It is best to spray the solution on the walls again and use a 4-5 inch taping knife to scrape. This will remove most paste and bits of paper and can be messy but it is not ready to paint yet. After you have done the scraping, use warm water and a scrubbing sponge to clean what remains off the walls. When your walls dry, spackle any gouges or nail holes in the walls. Use a sanding block or a sanding pole to sand the walls before you use paint or primer. Use a medium grit sandpaper for this. It is always recommended to prime your walls first with a good acrylic interior primer before you paint. This is a good time to check your walls to see if they require any more spackling. Be sure to sand and prime wherever you fill.

Now it is ready for paint. A good painter will sand before each application. Most times it requires two coats to cover and leave a prefessional finish on your walls. There are usually three grades of interior wall paint to pick from. Most professionals use the medium priced wall paint. They all tint the same and even the expensive paints usually require a second coat regardless of what the label says. Remember, be sure to let the paint dry throughly and always sand the walls between application. You will get professional results by doing it yourself. It can be very rewarding and save money.

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