If you’re a new or existing homeowner you may be looking to spend this weekend preparing your walls for new wallpaper & a few licks of paint DIY-style. We hope that you’re looking to make a good job of it, which will involve removing the old wallpaper, replastering (if needed), and sugar soaking the walls (if you have a new build it is not needed) before applying the new stuff.
To help you in your home improvement efforts we’ve provided you with a brief guide that should see you through to bare walls so pop the kettle on for a moment and read through our how-to on stripping wallpaper.
Assess the Type of Wall You Have
When removing wallpaper there is a level of moisture involved to coerce the wallpaper from staying on the wall so you need to find out what the wall you are working on is made out of. Solid walls that have been plastered can withstand a fair amount of soaking whereas plasterboard can be affected if exposed to large quantities of water.
You will know if your wall is made of plasterboard by knocking on it with your hand. If it sounds hollow in the most part of it then it is most likely plasterboard. The parts where it will sound solid will be the studs that the wall is attached to.
On the other hand, if you have a plasterboard wall that has been properly skimmed then you won’t have as many problems. The only thing to be wary of is digging into the plasterboard when scoring or removing the paper, as damage to plasterboard walls can sometimes lead to more work that require the need of a plasterer or complete replacement of a plasterboard panel.
Switch Off the Power
Just to be safe, we recommend shutting off the power in the room that you are working in because you will be working with water and have exposed power cabling when you unscrew electrical fittings to remove the old wallpaper hiding behind them.
To do this simply locate your power box and switch the supply to that part of the house off.
Score the Papered Walls
So by now you should know the type of wall you are working on and have an empty room with the power off and electrical fittings unscrewed from the walls. Time to get scoring.
Before you begin slashing at the walls you might benefit from testing a corner of paper and seeing how easily it comes of first because if it simply peels off in sheets with minimum debris being left behind you could save yourself some time. Do be aware though that backing paper is usually underneath easy-to-strip wallpaper so make sure you cut right back into the skimmed plaster.
Many sources recommend using a Stanley knife to score the walls so that when you soak them in the next process the water will penetrate through the layers of paper. This is effective yet time consuming which is why we’d recommend creating your own wallpaper scorer using a thick block of wood and some long masonry nails to speed up the process a bit.
How to Make a Homemade Paper Scorer
- To make your own wallpaper scorer take a small block of wood, big enough to grip in your palm, and secure it to a work bench.
- Gather a dozen masonry nails of the same length and hammer them through the block of wood with even spaces so one side looks like a spiked metal brush. You can add more nails if you wish but note that this could create many tiny pieces of wallpaper rather than larger chunks that come off as whole pieces.
- Applying firm pressure, run your new paper scraper over the walls to make many score lines in the old wallpaper.
Soak the Walls
Once you’ve successfully scored your walls you need to make a solution of warm water and washing up liquid. The warmer the water the more it will help with breaking down the adhesive that holds the old wallpaper up so crack out the marigolds if you want to keep your hands looking young.
You can use a sponge or other applicator that will apply a good amount of water to the wallpaper so that it soaks through all of the layers. Some walls have multiple layers of wallpaper so be patient when carrying this out as it can take a great deal of time.
Scrape Off the Old Paper
To remove the paper you will need a wallpaper scraper, which you can get from almost any DIY store. When scraping try to angle your scraper so that you are travelling along the wall and underneath the paper rather than digging directly into the wall. The last thing you want to do is dig out the plaster or plasterboard.
After giving the wallpaper about 10 minutes to soak begin removing at a place where there is a break between wallpaper sheets and get your scraper into the gap and under the paper. If it comes off easily then you should be in for a quick and simple removal process.
Tough Wallpaper Removal
If the wallpaper is difficult to remove then you will need to revisit it with the soaking process before trying to remove it again. This can be a long and repetitive process but stick with it if you are removing a good amount on each attempt.
If you really struggle with removing the wallpaper then you might need the aid of a wallpaper stripper that applies steam deep into the layers of the paper or a wallpaper stripping solution to help break down the adhesive further. Just be sure not to hold it on one area for longer than needed because you could end up penetrating through to plasterboard if that is what your walls are made out of – potentially creating more problems.
Once you’ve removed all of the wallpaper you should be left with bare walls coated in plaster. If you find that you’ve made some slight dinks in the wall or there are minor bits of plaster missing then you can try to fill these gaps with a number of different fillers and plaster mixes.
On the other hand if you have large areas of plaster missing or you are not confident in plastering yourself then we recommend contacting a professional plasterer as they will know exactly what you need.
It is important that your walls are completely flat before applying new wallpaper so make sure you hire a qualified and recommended plasterer.
Enjoy Improving Your Home
Now that we’ve explained how simple it is to remove your old wallpaper you should be confident in going forth and having a good weekend of scoring, soaking and scraping. If you’ve got any handy tips for our readers regarding the removal of wallpaper feel free to leave them in our comments section below.