Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge

How to Remove Wall-Paper (and fix Drywall)

Wallpaper removal is one of the many small opportunities that new homeowners have. The wallpaper these new homeowners had varied from a Rose Wallpaper that someone took a lot of care to paste on a wall, as trim, even on the light switches, to another wall, that had 3 different layers of wallpaper, and then gouged drywall beneath (likely a botched removal job.)

So, how do I get rid of that terrible wallpaper so that I can prepare the wall for paint?

After all, we want to be environmentally safe but we would also like it to be fast. These few tips works on all wallpaper.

On vinyl wallpaper you may have to remove the top layer, the vinyl, which will not let the mixture soak through to the backing and loosen the glue. The vinyl wallpaper can be pulled off easily starting at an edge and just separating it from the base, where it is attached to the wall.

To remove the rest of the wall-paper, the only thing you need is a spray bottle, vinegar, water, and a large bladed putty knife. You mixhot water with vinegar in a spray bottle, in a ratio of approximately two parts vinegar and one part hot water.

Then, soak down the paper, waiting for it to soak through the paper and to the glue. Then, with the putty knife, gently remove the wallpaper from the wall, starting at one edge. You may have to keep wetting it down but you will be successful in removing this grotesque wallpaper with out hurting the wall. Just be gentle with the putty knife.

Repairing Drywall

After completing one room I moved on to the next and under the heavy vinyl wallpaper I found a wall with many scratches and gouges in the sheet rock. The solution for this problem turned into a more challenging opportunity. How do we smooth out the wall with out removing the drywall? Our solution turned out to be fairly simple. This next operation will require some skill, but can be learned as you go – and yes, you can do it! Here are the steps.

  1. Buy a medium tub of drywall compound and a flat trowel.
  2. Spread the mud over the wall as evenly as possible. You may want to do several coats, particularly as you are getting the hang of a smooth coat.
  3. If you want to really smooth it down, use a close cell sponge and a bucket of water.Wring out the sponge and gently wipe the wall this will get you a smoother finish.

Sanding Drywall: In order to get the smooth, professional look of drywall, you must sand. We used a Rigid Orbital Sander, with an 80 grit sandpaper. Then you should lightly sand the wall (we used an 80 grip) to level out any ridges or bumps.

Note from Christopher – Drywall dust is so fine, it is crazy. The dust is NOT GOOD for your health,and makes a HUGE mess. It is important to tighly seal the room that you are sanding so that the dust does not spread into the rest of the house; to use proper eye and dust protection; and Kevin Kelly reviewed a tool called the Sand and Kleen (only $55through Amazon) that helps filter the drywall dust immensely. If we were to do more than one wall, we would get it.

This is all a learning experience so take your time and don’t get frustrated. You can do it.

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