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Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

Posted by arlosmom (My Page) on
Wed, Jan 12, 11 at 14:44

I've been working hard on wallpaper removal in one of our bedrooms. Does anybody have any tips or suggestions to make this hateful job easier?

The ceilings and walls have painted-over wallpaper. The walls are plaster and I'll have several cracks to repair when I'm done with this phase. I've been using a paper tiger to score the paper, then spraying DIF mixed w/ hot water, waiting 20 or so minutes, and scraping away. I'm having pretty good luck on the walls, but the ceiling is hard to reach and the wallpaper seems better stuck. I've put in close to 30 hours so far, and am only maybe 20% done with the room. Is there a better way that I just don't know about?

Any tips?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

You can buy a steamer by Wagner for around 40 dollars. It's one of the best tools around I've seen for taking wallpaper down.
Another option beside the expensive DIF mix is to use the cheapest liquid fabric softener you can find mixed with hot water or vinegar mixed with hot water.


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RE: Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

30 hours in, and still 80% to go???? I'd be thinking a tin or beadboard ceiling would look mighty nice in there :)


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RE: Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

carol, I'll look into the Wagner steamer. I hadn't realized they were that inexpensive. I'll also try the vinegar since I have that on hand.

jiggreen, I'm about 20% done with the whole room, not just the ceiling. I actually have one wall completely scraped and the glue scrubbed off, and maybe a fifth of the ceiling scraped. It's pretty tedious!


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RE: Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

One thing few people seem to think of is this: old houses don't usually have a lot of insulation, and on exterior walls, layers of paper and paint act as a sort of vapor barrier. If you take off those layers, I have seen a product you can use to line the wall to provide a vapor barrier--it's not cheap or easy to do.
Just something to think about--if paper is well secured, why remove it--you are saving time, effort and avoiding possible plaster problems by peeling off that paper.


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RE: Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

Wallpaper removal is tedious work. It does go faster if you have somebody working with you. One spraying the walls and the other one scrapping stuff off.


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RE: Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

I had some painted over wallpaper to strip and like you I went the Dif route. The two things I learned was that you really had to go at it with the paper tiger. Dif (or any solution) works by getting under the paper and working on the paste/wall bond. The more penetrations you can make to get the solution pentetrated the better. To that end the other thing I learned was to really soak the walls. I bought a large pump garden sprayer with a large wand and used that to apply the solution. It worked so much better than a little squeeze type bottle.

Diane


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RE: Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

I stopped using a steamer on painted wallpaper on plaster walls long ago.

A 3-4 inch razor knife (bigger is better for this) will renmove the paper from plaster easily.

When held at the correct angle it will slice the paper in two, leaving the back on the wall.

A steamer (or DIF) will soak into the raw brown backing and remove it very easily.

It takes some practice to find the correct angle, and a lot of blades, but works better than anything else on plaster.

It can take some work to get started, but once you have a starting pint the strips will be as long as your reach.

If you get the angle correct it rarely gouges the plaster.


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RE: Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

I went the route of paper tiger, then using a cheap clothing steamer to scrape. I've also seen people use garden sprayers full of solution (definitely white vinegar mixed with hot water, it will remove a lot of the old smells going on). For me, wallpaper removal was a must, with 100 years of cigarette and fireplace smoke making the house smell nothing short of haunted.


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RE: Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

I totally agree with brickeyee - avoid wetting wallpaper when it's over plaster. Here's another suggestion: if the plaster is in less than ideal condition (and it won't be after scraping, anyway)you might want to consider putting up a new ceiling right over the old one. 3/4" strapping plus 3/8 or 1/2" plaster board will not lower the ceiling significantly. In the long run it might entail less work and better results


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RE: Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

I have struggled with leaving the paper on to protect the plaster vs having a "fresh start" and scraping all of the paper off. The plaster in our house is in very good shape, for the most part. But what to do in the areas that the paper is bubbling out....?

At any rate, in the one room that I *have* scraped, I used a wagner steamer. It did a decent job, but wasn't the end all to beat all by any means. And I did not attempt to remove the paper on the ceiling. It looks just fine to me. In my experience, elbow grease is the best tool. And you probably want scaffolding of some kind (if you don't have that already) to get you really close. Might save your neck a bit. Good luck! Your ambition will pay off in the end :)


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RE: Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

"And you probably want scaffolding of some kind"

'Drywall' stilts.


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RE: Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

columbusguy, the plaster walls/ceiling on our second floor rooms (where I'm working now) have some issues that need to be repaired, so I don't think just leaving the wallpaper is an option. Luckily, on our first floor that plaster was in good shape with well-adhered painted-over wallpaper, so I just gave it a new coat. I felt a little guilty doing it, but it looks fine.

carol, my only company now is a radio and the dog...I wonder who I could talk into helping me.

Diane and lolaz, I've been bonding with my paper tiger. It really does make a difference.

mrsrichards, I hadn't even thought about scaffolding. We already own some! I need to take some measurements and see if we can get it up the stairway. That could make the job much easier. One of the biggest problems I'm having working on the ceiling is that I can't get the same angles and force because I'm twisting on a ladder over my head.

brickeyee, drywall stilts!?! Are you trying to kill me? I am using a 4" razor knife, but I bet my blade is dull. I've been using the same blade for a long, long time.

OK, time to try out all your suggestions. Thanks!!


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RE: Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

I'm the only one here that removes wallpaper too. I have a larger audience. 3 dogs /3 cats.
Music helps make the time go faster and so does a little wine!
So far in this house I've taken paper off of four rooms. I have eleven more rooms to go..........yep I hit the jackpot on papered walls. Fortunately most of mine were professionally put up back in 1940's so they come down fairly easily. It helps too that the plaster and lath is in great shape.
Sharp blades are a must. I also second using the garden sprayer. It covers a wider area faster. If your paper tiger isn't getting thru all the layers you can always try using a razor blade and gently scoring thru with that. Only draw back is if you are too heavy handed with it it will leave marks on the wall. I know my son had a bedroom in his new house and it had three layers of wall paper on it. We tried using the paper tiger but it just wasn't doing the job well enough. So we used a razor blade. It did cut the wall in some spots but it was no big deal since his plaster board walls needed a bunch of holes patched from nails left by pics that the last owner had used.


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RE: Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

"drywall stilts!?! Are you trying to kill me? I am using a 4" razor knife, but I bet my blade is dull. I've been using the same blade for a long, long time."

They actually are rahter god if you purchase a quality pair.

They have attachments for each leg near the ankle and just below the knee, and the good ones have a working 'ankle joint.'

They are not poles with foot rests (like kids play with) but a parallelogram structure with springs built in and stops to allow easy walking (if a little clumsy at first).

I rarely use a single blade in a wide razor scrapper for more than 5 minutes.
By then they start to skip over the paper and not split it, and get harder to push.

Some of the knives have two edges per blade so that saves a little time over the single edge blades.


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RE: Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

I'm giving up on the ceiling. I just can't do it.

I tried. I got new blades for the scraper...I tried scraping dry to just get the top layer...I paper tigered over and over...tried vinegar and hot water...really soaked it. It just won't come off. Luckily I'm not having the same problems getting the wallpaper off the walls. That's going slowly, but fine.

So for now I'm going to work my way around the walls and get the paper stripped, clean off the glue, and fix the holes. Once I'm done and I'm out of the way, I'll have my handyman look at the ceiling and help me figure out what it needs to have done. There are several size-able cracks and the plaster looks like it might have pulled off the lath a couple of places (sagging just a little). Once he's made it all secure, I just have him skim coat it for me. It'll be fine.

I feel better for having let go of this job.


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RE: Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

A steamer is likely required.

The combination of heat and moisture is what does the trick.


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RE: Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

arlosmom: Ready to think about a new ceiling over the old one yet? Strapping on 16" centers will take care of most of the areas where the plaster has come loose from the lathing. Any loose areas that fall between the strapping can be fixed with plaster washers.


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RE: Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

The ceilings in my living room/front entryway are plaster, covered with brown paper that was then painted over and then popcorn texture was applied over that. The ceiling is cracking and starting to sag in several places so I need to get that addressed before it becomes a big problem. I'm wondering how important it is to remove the painted paper before patching and skim coating. I've started in the entryway as it is a tiny area. I sprayed the popcorn with water and removed that easily. The painted paper is not coming down so easy. I've got a 4" razor scraper that I've been using, but it's really slow going. Can I skim coat over the paper? I was thinking about doing a knockdown texture on the ceiling. I don't want to do a half-a$$ed fix, but the thought of scraping the entire living room ceiling little by little is making me crazy.

Any reasons a knockdown texture on a plaster ceiling is a bad idea? The house was built in 1940.


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RE: Scraping wallpaper from ceiling

I would remove the paper. It is worth the effort to me. I found that it took me 3 months a room to remove 7 layers on the walls, 5 layers on the ceilings, patch, sand, prime and paint and strip the trim and restain it. Really it was so worth it to have smooth plaster. I was doing this mostly on the weekends.

Diane


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