Wallpaper Removal: When to Call in a Professsional

For the most part, people stopped putting up wallpaper about 15 years ago.  It went out of style,  but there sure is a lot of it out there that needs to be removed so walls can be painted.  In the past few weeks, Greg Mrakich Painting received a handful of calls just to remove wallpaper and paint the walls. Wallpaper removal can be very easy and quick and neat,  or it can be something that will drive you to drink.  If the wallpaper went up over a nice painted wall, chances are that it is not going to put up too much of a fight. In my experience, houses that were build in the 1980s-1990s, wallpaper was hung directly on unpainted and unprimed drywall.  I guarantee that this was a shortcut taken by the builder to save a few dollars. He’s not concerned about the trouble or difficulty that you or the next person who owns your home will run into when removing the wallpaper.

When taking down wallpaper in an older home or one with real plaster walls,  99% of the time the wall is painted and primed. This will make the removal of the wallpaper quick and painless.  In these cases you pull the outer layer of the wallpaper off,  leaving the backing.  You wet the backing down with hot water and in about 10 minutes the backing is ready to peel off.  Let the walls dry overnight, fill in any now revealed holes or cracks, sand  the walls lightly and you are ready to paint.

In homes 20 years old or newer, you will often find that the wallpapered walls were never primed or painted before the paper was hung. In these cases,  the paper is VERY hard to remove,  and cannot be done without damaging the walls. What has happened is that the porous drywall has absorbed the wallpaper glue. Had the drywall been originally primed and painted, it would have acted as a barrier, protecting the drywall from the wallpaper glue. With no primer and paint protecting the wall, when you attempt to remove the wallpaper, you may pull up some of the drywall with the wallpaper backing.  If this happens, the drywall will require extensive work to repair – turning a $500 removal quote into a $750 change order pretty quickly.

When I give a quote for wallpaper removal,  I ask the prospective client if I can pull a small section of wallpaper off so I can better see what I am up against.  If you decide to do it yourself,  take it slow and easy.  You can’t rush it…it is ready when it is ready and trying to scrape it off before it is ready will only cause more damage to your walls.

Greg Mrakich Painting is an EPA lead-safe certified firm. For more information about Greg Mrakich and Greg Mrakich Painting, click here. Or, if you live in the metropolitan Indianapolis area and would like to contact me, click here.


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