painting over wallpaper

katzbloodApril 5, 2006

I tried a search to no avail so I'm posting the question myself. I just bought a house and have two bedrooms that had wallpaper that I wanted to remove and paint the walls instead. The walls are plaster. The first bedroom had very old wallpaper that took two days to scrape off with the Dif glue remover and scouring. The second bedroom has more recent wallpaper that is very hard to scour and the glue remover stuff isnt working. Tried a hair dryer and the wallpaper still refuses to come off. Its important that I get this painted by this weekend, so I'm opting to just paint right over the wallpaper. Any tips? I heard that I should use oil based instead of latex from a guy at Home Depot. I've never had to deal with wallpaper before but I do have experience painting with oil and latex. Help!

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Brushworks Spectacular Finishes

Oil base primer over wallpaper is old school. You don't need it!!! Most paint stores, and surely HD have never heard of the best product for that job. Shameful, but true.

If you're positively sure, absolutely sure, beyond any doubt that you want to proceed with painting over can. However, the prep is much more difficult than a smooth wall.If the wallcovering is vinyl..disregard my advise. Vinyl wallcovering will cause you a big headache in years to come.

Wash it first! Warm soapy water and rinse.
If you want the seams to diminish, feather-sand them lightly, fill with spackle, sand lightly again. Glue down any loose corners, seams, etc. Now, for primer.
Prime it with GARDZ water base wallpaper primer.
GARDZ will dry hard and clear. If the paper is busy or dark, prime over the GARDZ with an acrylic primer tinted to the new color.

Finish with two coats of quality 100% acrylic latex.

That's a big job to have done in a few days!


Here is a link that might be useful: GARDZ

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 8:41AM
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Use a 3 inch or 4 inch razor blade scrapper to remove the old wallpaper.
If you paint over it, that is what you will be using later to get it off anyway.
Buy a lot of extra blades. The plaster takes the edge off pretty quickly.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 9:16AM
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I cant tell if its vinyl wallpaper or not. All I know is that the paper tiger didnt put very many holes in it even when pressing down hard and the 4 inch razor that I was using couldnt even catch enough edges to peel off the paper. I'll give it another try before I decide to paint right over it but its taking an hour to get a square foot of the paper off even part way, thats not getting all the glue residue and paper pieces still clinging.

Thank you for the advice about the paint! I wasnt sure about the oil based thing that the HD guy suggested, the people at Menards didnt even know what to suggest.

I suppose if I do decide to paint, I'll want to fill in the spots where I already took down the wallpaper with spackle to smooth it out since the plaster is rougher than the wallpaper.

We plan on refinishing the wood floors this weekend, so maybe waiting to paint until after the wood has been sanded and finished would be a good idea, too? I'm not sure if painting first or doing the floors first would be the best plan of action. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 11:47PM
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Have you tried a steamer? I bought one at Lowes for about $50 and have used it on plaster walls. The wallpaper came off relatively easily. If you have a bucket of cleaner you can wash the wall right after you remove the paper while the wall is still wet from the steam.

The cost of renting a steamer was about the same as buying one.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 5:30AM
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We bought a steamer but its a multipurpose one and not just for wallpaper removal, I havent tried it yet but I figured I'd give it a shot this morning. I'm pretty determined now to remove the wallpaper since its probably vinyl and will look icky in a couple of years anyway.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 7:15AM
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I was in your position last summer. You had multiple layers of wallpaper over plaster with paint in between some and on top. PLEASE DO NOT PAINT OVER THE WALLPAPER.

It is hell to get it down but you will be saving yourself and the future owners hours of grief if you just suck it up and do it.

I tried the tiger, the DIF, and a steamer. The only thing that worked was a razor scraper. Peel as much as you can off, then you the scraper. You will have to wash the glue residue off after you get to bare wall. I used plain hot water and paper towels.

There may be lots of damage under the wallpaper, if so you'll need to patch and sand before priming. I don't recommend using drywall putty on plaster. It cracks easily and takes multiple applications because it shrinks. We used a product called EasySand. It's a powder that you mix with water. You can get it in a 5 minute, or a 90 minute set time. Get the 90 unless you work extremely fast.

I would just get the floors done first and then cover them with paper and tape when you paint to protect. Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 1:46PM
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Definitely don't take the easy way out. You do want to remove this stuff. One tip I'll give you that has worked well in my many wallpaper removal jobs is to take an old hand saw and hold the blade at about a right angle to the wall with both hands and rake across the paper enough times to score it well, without digging into the wall. This will make penetration by steam much easier, particularly if you're dealing with vinyl. However, if it is vinyl, you can often pull it off in strips and then just work on getting the residual backing removed. My low tech method has been to do the scoring, then use a big sponge to saturate the paper with a wallpaper removal solution, and then go over it with an old steam iron in one hand and a 4" sheetrocking knife in the other. It's hard at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's not too bad. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 3:00PM
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A razor scarpper held at the correct angle will even split the paper in half taking off the surface and leaving behind a thin brown layer.
You may damage the wall getting started so start behind a door or ina less visible place.
The first strokes are harder and take considerable pressure to force the blade to cut. Once you have even a small area scrapped, work outwards from there.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 9:04PM
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Thanks for all the advice. I went home after work yesterday morning and tried more dif and scraping and almost finished one wall. I didnt try the steamer because they were doing the floors downstairs so I couldnt get to my other supplies. It seems that sponging periodicly between squirts of dif seems to get some moisture under the paper so I can scrape it. There is a ton of glue residue making everything extra sticky but I know it will be worth it. So far, the walls have held up well and I havent seen much damage or done much for that matter with the razor. I'll just wait out the weekend and see if I cant finish scraping next week when the floors are done. Thank you for the advice! I almost made a big mistake trying to paint over that ugly stuff.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 2:16AM
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Brushworks Spectacular Finishes

I'm glad you're removing it.

That's why I asked..are you absolutely sure???

It will be rewarding when you see the new paint finish.

Remember, seal that plaster after you get it clean and before you paint it. Zinsser BIN is a very good primer for cured plaster.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 7:47AM
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I think anyone who paints over wallpaper should be dipped in chiggers.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 7:36PM
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Glad it's coming off for you and the walls are in good shape underneath. I wasn't so lucky. Our joke is that the wallpaper was structural. Although we did a good job of reconstructing the corners and the wall with drywall tape and beadex. With the primer and fresh paint you can't even tell how awful it was. Also, flat paint is much more forgiving than the shiny finishes.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 3:28PM
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I use a solution of 1/3 cup non-sudsing ammonia to 1 quart of HOT tap water to remove wallpaper. I usually use a gallon pump spayer to apply. Keep wet for about 15 minutes before removing. Much cheaper and more effective than DIF.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 11:03PM
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The secret to wallpaper removal is saturation and hot water. Soak one wall at a time with a garden sprayer filled with water as hot as you can get. If you are using a sponge and a bucket, you can't get the saturation like if it was sprayed on. I'll soak down a wall, let it sit for 10 minutes, soak it twice more and then I'll try to pull it off. DIF, ammonia, dish detergent all work fine, but the big thing is the hot water.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2006 at 10:37AM
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hot water I shall try next! I got the floors done in those rooms but the wallpaper is still there waiting for me to dig in. I have lots of DIF left so I'll probably continue to use that, though looking at the rest of the house there is a lot of wallpaper that looks older and less likely to have the vinyl coating on it so maybe I'll save the DIF for that and get that ammonia.. I dont have a garden sprayer so I'll see if I cant find another water bottle to spray hot water with.

I used Kilz primer in the other room and had my inlaws spray a fine texture on it since there were a lot of structural booboos showing through the paint that the texture should help hide. They said its easy to take off if I change my mind about the texture. I'm glad I didnt decide to try to paint over the wallpaper and have it turn out horrible and have to turn around and take it off again.

The next thing will be to decide if I want to take the paint off the woodwork in the other bedrooms.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 12:59AM
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I have never done it personally, but my painter (an old pro) swears by using a random orbit sander (don't know what grit) on the wallpaper to really rough it up. The paper tiger just pokes little holes, but apparently sanding the wallpaper REALLY opens it up enough for your solution to soak in thoroughly. Might be worth a shot.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 11:18PM
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None of the people here have had to attempt to remove vinyl wallpapaer that was incorrectly applied - that is clear by all of the "don't just paint over it" comments. Attempting to remove this paper from my bathroom and it pealed the greenboard clear down to the interior. So...wise ones, would you sand, prime, and paint over this or tear up all of your greenboard and basically turn this into a total remodel? Just curious because so many seem so dead set against painting over the paper...agreed that if the paper has been applied correctly, removing is the better option - but this is not always the case.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 1:13PM
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