Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Kitchen mini-remodel, episode 2: How to remove wallpaper and how not to

A few weeks ago I removed most of the wallpaper from the eating side of the kitchen. Although I used a Paper Tiger and water, I wasn't having a lot of luck getting all the paper and glue off, and in some places the paint is coming completely off, revealing the paper of the drywall. I didn't use a chemical stripper with the Paper Tiger because I had pulled some of the paper off previously with good results, and frankly I didn't want to spend the money.

Right after that, I was watching Designed to Sell on my beloved HGTV, and Monica Pederson had a family removing wallpaper. She mentioned that if you mix liquid fabric softener with the water, it helps loosen the glue. (In this particular case, she had the family pull off the top part of the paper first, and then she had them spray the "underpaper.") This sounded really something I had heard before and forgotten.

So today I was back at work on the mini-remodel. I perforated that paper so that not a single inch went unperforated, then sprayed the whole thing with the water and softener mix. (I estimate I put an ounce or two of softener into a quart of water.) I made no attempt to pull off the top layer first--I don't see the point. I saturated the wall, then saturated some more. I was going to wait about a half hour because that time frame seemed to work well in the past, but curiosity grabbed me by the arm and led me to the kitchen to start prying off the paper about 20 minutes in. It sort of came off ok, but the paper was partly wet and partly dry, so I sprayed it one more time and waited another five minutes.

At that point I was able to pull the paper off in sheets...I didn't even have to stand on the stool to get to the top. I just grabbed the bottom part and peeled it off upwards. It was, I'm not kidding, as easy to get off as pulling tissues out of a tissue box. All work should be so hard! It also does seem that there's very little glue residue left on the wall.


Kitchen wall before:

Kitchen wall right now:

(Well, I can't show it to you right now. I've uploaded the picture twice, Blogger says the upload was successful, but then it's not here. I'll try to do it again later.)

Obviously the refrigerator was in the corner beneath the cabinet. I'm trying to get Tall Son to build a microwave shelf under that cabinet. The refrig is moving to the area in the left part of this picture, and I'm installing cabinets in the space between. (This is why I didn't remove all the wallpaper, but as easy as it was, I could have.)

One concern I have is that in a few more places the paint is coming off clean, as a single piece of latex. I could almost peel the wall clean to the drywall if I had that kind of time and patience. I'm not sure how to deal with this...I think I'll try to sand the edges of these "peels," then prime. If that doesn't work...?

Later today Tall Son and I go to pick up the new Whirpool RANGE. Whoopee!


konagod said...

Nice tip! We don't have wallpaper in this house but I'd love to buy a fixer-upper someday and I'm sure there will be wallpaper somewhere to rip off.

Bitty said...

It could be worse, though, Kona. I put up this wallpaper, so I thought ahead to the day when it would come down, and I primed the wall first with a primer made for wallpaper.

I once did a wallpaper job for a friend. He and I pulled the old paper down, and the drywall paper and some of the chalky interior came with it. It was not unlike peeling an egg that won't peel cleanly.

He had to do an extreme mudding job on that poor pitted wall.

AMorris said...

Be careful at Lowe's. That place is dangerous to a full wallet!

Bitty said...

And Lowe's is even more dangerous to an empty wallet, since the bedazzled shopper is desperate to get the object of her desire and will take extreme financial measures to bring the pretty shiny things home...