Fabric softener to remove wallpaper

cheerful1_gwOctober 1, 2007

Has anyone done this? I want to remove the 20-year old wallpaper in my bathroom, then prime and paint. I want to do this the most effective way possible. I've heard differing ways to do it, but the fabric softener sound intriguing.

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When I bought my current house (+4k sqft) every room had wallpaper in it. I tried lots of different things that people told me would work. In the end what worked best depended on they type of wallpaper that was put up and whether or not the walls were prepped properly before the paper was installed. The best all around solution I found was a product that you can get at Home Depot called DIFF. We tried fabric softener and it did not perform all that well on our wallpaper as DIFF.

Regardless of what you go with, you will find that each type of paper behaves differently and usually the cheaper the wallpaper, the harder it is to remove. The worst stuff to remove we found were the borders (Foil). We had to do a fair amount of drywall repair also and we also had to have the walls sanded and sealed with an Alkyd primer to lock down any remaining glue. You will never get it all off.

Today you cannot tell we ever had wallpaper anywhere in the house. Just take your time and do your best not to destroy you walls.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2007 at 1:15PM
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I agree with kitchenshock, all wall papers come off differently for all those reasons. I tried using fabric softener and it worked on the top paper but not the paper under the border which seemed to be less porous. If you try the fabric softener get one that is odor free. I used Downy and had to quit because the scent was overcoming. Have you thought about using a steamer? I've never tried it but I've heard they work well for removing wall paper. Anyway put on some good music and invite some friends to help!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2007 at 5:05PM
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I (and my S.I.L, who has done a lot of home remodeling) have found that joy dishsoap solution in water works great.

You do have to apply twice, once on the surface and then on the paper...but it melts right off.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2007 at 6:43PM
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Brushworks Spectacular Finishes

In some older houses you'll find clay based adhesives. A hammer and chisel is required to remove it.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2007 at 7:08PM
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I've tried Downey and Diff. I agree that Diff works better, plus if you drip Downey on the carpet (and it is almost impossible not to) you will have drip marks forever (you can clean it out, but it causes rapid re-soiling).

Hiring a professional painter to remove the wallpaper works the best. I paid just over $700 to the wallpaper in our den removed. The walls were repaired like new, primed and painted. It took them two days. It would have taken me multiple weekends and still cost me about $300 or so.

I regret not hiring the guy to do our bedroom (I did the bedroom first). I completely trashed the walls and did a really bad job repairing them. When I finally replace the Downey damaged carpet, I will have the painter come in and fix the walls. So I'll be out the original cost of at least $300, plus the $300 or $400 it will cost me for the repairs!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 8:27PM
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I've used a steamer extensively to remove paper & it's the easiest way to remove it.
Be sure to score the paper first no mater what method you use. Hardware stores sell a roller tool for that.
It will still involve scraping & wiping the glue off the wall. A spackle knife works well for scraping & any rags & sponges along with warm water with DIF will help with the final wipe down. TSP in water can be used too. It works & is cheaper than DIF.
Prime the walls before you paint.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 12:52PM
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I have used fabric softener & I agree with other posters that it depends on the paper, I had great success. But the smell is very overpowering. I have also had great luck using wall paper remover, which you roll on, leave for a few minutes & scrap off. Then wash the wall down.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2007 at 7:36PM
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"Hiring a professional painter to remove the wallpaper works the best. "

I have yet to find a pinter that will do this work anymore.
I own the company and often have to do it myself.
The cheap hourly guys do damage that costs even more to fix.
I still use a steamer on unpainted paper and get it off very quickly.
For painted paper on plaster it comes off dry with a 4 inch razor scraper.
Painted on drywall will either peel or the drywall often goes.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 10:18AM
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I was able to pull off much of my old wallpaper. I used hot water mixed with white vinegar to remove the paper and adhesive that remained worked great.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2007 at 4:39PM
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I second victorian's comments about scented fabric softener- be very, very careful with it. I tried to remove wallpaper using a scented fabric softener and made myself ill from the fumes. To this day, scented fabric softener gives me severe headaches.
Found that hot water worked just as well to remove the wallaper.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 9:51AM
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