Removing Old Wallpaper is full of surprises.
Part I – The Removal
It seems strange to us that so many people, contractors included, are just not interested in wallpaper removal. Clearly, that is not the case with us….we love it!
So we are in, let’s get started!
The top layer, for the most part, came off rather well. As the wallpaper was very old, it had become quite hard and brittle. We had fun, seeing who could pull the biggest piece, at the same time being careful not to pull the plaster with it. Once the top layer was off, we were left with the fine white paper backing. We rolled on our special removal solution, let it sit for 10 minutes and removed it with ease. Some areas caught us by surprise, as there were overlapping layers of plaster, paint and even older wallpaper. Removing this new layer of thin wallpaper proved impossible, it did not want to budge. We decided to prime the otherwise sound surfaces with oil primer and see what happens.
Now let’s get on with preparing and restoring the walls for a few coats of paint.
Old Wallpaper Removal – Part 2 the Wall Repairs
We primed the surfaces carefully, making sure to not push very hard. We didn’t want to create any more damage (and work) to the delicate substrate. We also avoided leaving too much roller texture and orange peel and give ourselves a good start for later.
Before even starting this wallpaper removal project, the homeowners asked us clearly if we were up for this type of a challenge. Were we prepared for all possibilities of repair under the wallpaper? Being honest with the customer, we said that despite our experience there are always surprises with every type of paper stripping. We reassured them that we were up to the challenge and we can take the job.
We reinforced the soft areas of the old plaster by drilling in screws, until each area felt and became solid. After the substrate felt solid we could proceed with the patching and skimming phase.
Now we had some patching to do! We used quick dry patching compound to accelerate the drying time between patching. Quick dry compounds do help with drying time between patching but it’s always a good idea to wait overnight before painting. There were many peaks and lumps and bumps on these old walls, clearly showing the character of the house. We did not attempt to correct these natural flaws, it wouldn’t be consistent with any other areas in the house. We fixed the cracks, patched the holes, sanded and primed again. After priming things were looking smooth. We applied another thin coat of Drydex compound to most areas and now things were looking even better.
The dust masks are back on….it was time for final sanding! Sanding was much easier this time, we were removing small putty knife ridges and lines. At clean up, we dusted off the walls, and we applied the final coat of low odour oil primer to seal the skimmed walls. It was time to paint…finally!
We applied 2 coats of Benjamin Moore’s matte from their Collection line (now called Regal Select).
Update: This blog was written in 2009 right after the project. There is a new product we would use if we ever encountered similar problems. The product is called FibaFuse and it’s a wall reinforcement fabric made of fiberglass. It comes as wide as 36 inches and can cover large repairs. After applying compound with a paint roller you can apply the fabric on it in big pieces. It would be perfect for old homes with many hairline cracks and it is mould resistant.
If your old wallpaper scares you but you want it off your walls, don’t hesitate to call Ecopainting at (416) 733-7767. We are experts in removing any kind of wallpaper – no kidding!