Wallpaper is the great leap-of-faith in interior decorating. You fall in love with a pattern that you think is perfect for an accent wall or entire room, and make the big commitment. Or the previous owner of your house did. But décor fashions and tastes change, and what was once stylish is now embarrassingly dated – or was never to your liking to begin with, in the case of the home you just bought. Even if you’re still fond of the wallpaper you chose years ago, it may be showing signs of wear, making the entire room look tired.
Whatever the case, it’s time for a change. However, you’ll soon discover – or already have – that wallpaper isn’t easy to remove. And that doing so isn’t a job for a homeowner who doesn’t happen to do it for a living. If you think that you can get around the inevitable by painting or wallpapering over existing wallpaper, think again! Wallpaper is a stubborn, formidable adversary. In order to save your time, sanity and wall surface, you should hire a professional to do the honors.
Why You Shouldn’t Paint Over Wallpaper – Or Wallpaper Over Existing Wallpaper
A blog post by Matthews’ Painting Company, Columbia City, IN, describes the situation as follows:
“Removing the wallpaper before you paint your wall will generally give superior and long-lasting results compared to painting over it. Wallpaper is typically applied in rows, so if you paint over it, the seams at the end of the rows might show through the paint. Additionally, most wallpaper designs are textured, and the textures and patterns might show in the paint as well. The moisture in the paint might also cause the wallpaper adhesive to loosen, which results in sections of the wallpaper to detach or bubble.”
In addition, as Lowe’s points out, “Paint will seal the surface and make the wallpaper almost impossible to remove in the future.”
If you are planning other DIY interior painting projects, our blog post – “Do it Yourself: The Seven Blunders of Interior Painting” – covers common pitfalls in detail.
Risking an outcome that looks even worse than the wallpaper it was intended to cover isn’t worth the expense, time and effort of slapping on a coat of paint and hoping for the best. Neither is applying new wallpaper over existing wallpaper. While it is possible under certain circumstances, the necessary prep work is exacting, and not well-suited to amateurs. Anything less than a perfectly smooth, even surface won’t produce a good outcome.
According to Lowe’s, installation over existing paper isn’t recommended if:
- You suspect there may be more than a single layer of wallpaper on the surface.
- The existing wallpaper has a vinyl, foil or plastic film. In this case, the wallpaper should be removed even if there’s only one layer in good condition. Wallpaper adhesive won’t adhere well to these surfaces.
- You’re planning to hang vinyl wallpaper. If the previous wallpaper is also vinyl, the glue between the two papers won’t dry well. If the old wallpaper isn’t vinyl, the glue under it may get wet and start to mildew.
- The existing wallpaper is grass cloth, burlap or cork.
- You can hear crinkling sounds when running your hand over the surface of the wall. If you do, the wallpaper has buckled and it needs to be removed.
- If there are tears in the wallpaper at the corners of the walls; when walls settle, wallpaper sometimes tears in a corner.
Considering DIY Wallpaper Removal? Learn What’s Involved!
Every home and wall surface is different. If you live in an older home, there can be several layers of wallpaper underneath the current one – making the task even more challenging. You also don’t know the condition of the drywall or plaster (typically used in homes until the mid-1940s). Perhaps the wallpaper was originally applied to conceal stains from water damage, or another condition that will need to be addressed once uncovered.
The type of wallpaper and what lies beneath will also determine the optimum means of removal. According to Lowe’s, so-called “strippable” wallcovering is the easiest, as it’s intended to be removed without water or chemicals. Even so, this doesn’t mean there’s no work involved, as you may still need to use a razor knife to remove stubborn sections.
Lowe’s provides detailed DIY instructions for the main types of wallpaper, including instructions for prep work. This is well worth reading to determine if you want to attempt it yourself, or hire a pro. Just keep in mind that instructions and tutorial videos usually make any project look easier than it actually is. If this is your first rodeo, factor in some extra time for complications or setbacks. Be sure you have the right equipment. Improvising with something not intended for the purpose – such as a chair instead of a ladder – can be a safety hazard. The same goes for protective clothing.
The Advantages of Hiring a Professional for Removing Wallpaper
Consider the reason you want to remove your home’s existing wallpaper. A well-maintained, up-to-date house is not only more enjoyable to live in, it increases your home’s market value should you decide to sell. Sloppy DIY attempts at repairs or remodeling detract from its value, rather than improve it.
The pros at SurePro Painting, Austin, TX, offer the following reasons why you should hire a company that includes wallpaper removal as part of its core services.
Professionals get it right the first time – As mentioned earlier, there are often many more steps than just removing the paper. Some projects might require different steps depending on the type of wallpaper and the method originally used to install it. Will steam be required, or special chemicals? Can the wall be peeled or will it have to be scored and scraped? Will the wall have to be sealed before skimming and texture? Experts who deal with home wall decor on a consistent basis know how to remove wallpaper in the most efficient – and safe – manner.
Professionals have the right tools and equipment – In order to properly remove wallpaper without damaging the wall itself, you’ll need to buy quite a few things. First, you’ll need a ladder and some spray bottles to moisten the wallpaper with water. Then you will need scoring tools and putty knives to scrape all of the wallpaper, piece by piece.
In some cases you will need specialized chemicals, along with rubber gloves and eye protection. Some people may wish to use a mask as well. Dropcloths, plastic and tape will also be necessary, as well as the materials and tools needed to do sheetrock touch-ups and painting. Professionals have all of these and more to bring to every job. Buying equipment, tools and materials you may never use again is an extra expense better spent on hiring a pro!
You won’t risk damaging your home’s walls – Attempting this project on your own could result in damage – which will cost you even more money to repair. Hiring an expert greatly reduces damage to the walls. If any does occur during the removal process, a pro will fix it as part of their service. Remember, they’ve encountered every type of complication on the job, and come prepared for any circumstance.
You can get interior decorating advice – Painting contractors often can provide advice on paint color, wallpaper selection and even specialty wall textures to pull your room together to give it a fresh, up-to-date look. Instead of trying to decide what to do with your newly bare walls, you can get help from an expert included with the price of wallpaper removal! The Paint Manager provides this service with all of our interior and exterior paint projects, as well as with wallpaper removal. You can even preview colors by today’s leading paint companies on our website to inspire some ideas!
You save time and energy – Your time is worth something – and removing wallpaper is very time-consuming and labor-intensive. Do you really want to spend a weekend or two removing wallpaper and making repairs? Then, think about the work ahead – either painting or applying new wallpaper (for which we at The Paint Manager also recommend our services).
The Take-Home Message
We hope we’ve made a compelling case to leave wallpaper removal to professional hands! Our team at The Paint Manager has been proudly serving Central Florida homeowners for 20 years with experienced, dedicated and professional services that include exterior and interior house painting, roof repair and cleaning, drywall repair, popcorn ceiling texture removal, cabinet refinishing and so much more!
Plus, become a member of The Paint Manager to receive a 15% year-‘round member’s discount. Contact us to learn more about our services and membership discount offer. We look forward to meeting you!