Wallpaper Removal FAQ

As a painting contractor, Supreme Painting often works with clients to prepare walls for a fresh coat of primer and paint. In many cases, this will include removing old wallpaper from the walls. Many people might try to remove wallpaper on their own. The reality of it is, without the right tools and knowledge, can be a lot of work and a big mess. This article covers some basics about wallpaper removal.

How do you remove wallpaper and wallpaper paste?

There are a lot of so-called remedies out there that are supposed to help you speed up the process when trying to remove wallpaper and wallpaper paste. Some people recommend using a steamer to simply peel away the wallpaper and dissolve the paste. That isn’t necessary. The most effective wallpaper removal tools are hot, soapy water, a scraper, and time. The water needs to rime work its way in and soften the wallpaper paste.

The main ingredient in wallpaper paste is starch. That means that after soaking for between 15 and 30 minutes, it can easily be dissolved. However, adding white vinegar to the mixture can help speed up the process. Sand paper might smooth out paste and remove flaky parts of the layers, but it won’t remove it all together. It is important that all the wallpaper residue and paste be fully removed from the wall, because it can interfere with the prime and paint adhering to the wall.

Can You Prime Over Wallpaper Paste?

All around, this is typically not a great idea. It doesn’t stick well. In fact, you may notice that, when trying to remove old wallpaper paste from the wall that the paste has mixed together with old latex paint that was there before the wallpaper. The problem here is that scrubbing the paste away with sudsy water and white vinegar will not work. The paint will need removed with paint thinner and sand paper. This typically happens when the wall was not properly primed before adding the wallpaper.

Can You Paint Over Wallpaper Glue?

Again, this isn’t a great idea. It just doesn’t work right and you almost certainly want to be sure to prime wall before painting. In some cases, the mixture of old paint and wallpaper paste that doesn’t scrub away can be primed over, but you need a good eye and experience as an interior painter to know if it will work or not.

For one thing, painting over old wallpaper glue will void the manufacturer’s warranty in almost all cases. Paint instructions all indicate that the surface must be clean, dry and sound before applying the paint. Since wallpaper paste is mostly starch, it experiences season expansion and contraction. This is because starch is quite reactive to the ambient humidity. With the starch expanding and contracting, it will lead to issues with bubbling, peeling, and cracking. If you want to paint your walls and are having trouble getting the old wallpaper and wallpaper paste removed, call Supreme Painting and let us help you make sure the job is done right rather than something you are going to sink a bunch of time and money in now only to need to call us a few months down the line and start over from square one.

Another technique that might be necessary if the wallpaper paste cannot be removed is to prime over it and then put a coating of joint compound across the entire wall. It should be a coating about 1/8 of an inch thick and totally smooth. This should be left to sit and dry. Then, it will need to be primed. Once the primer is done drying, you should be able to commence with painting.

Another technique that might be necessary if the wallpaper paste cannot be removed is to prime over it and then put a coating of joint compound across the entire wall. It should be a coating about 1/8 of an inch thick and totally smooth. This should be left to sit and dry. Then, it will need to be primed. Once the primer is done drying, you should be able to commence with painting.