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Tips For Painting Over Or Pulling Down Unwanted Wallpaper

Each time you walk into your living room, bedroom or front hallway, you see that outdated, ugly wallpaper. Whether you've recently purchased your home or have been living there for years, you just cannot stand the sight of that hideous wallpaper for one more second. When it comes to eliminating wallpaper, no matter what its age or color, you have two options: paint over it or pull it down. Here is how to paint over or tear down wallpaper:

Painting over Wallpaper

If you simply don't have the time to remove wallpaper, painting over it is a great option. However, before you can paint, you need to properly prep the walls. Here are the steps you should take if you want to paint over your existing wallpaper:

  • Begin by removing any artwork, decorative items and nails. Next, examine the wallpaper and look for any loose or missing chunks. Apply adhesive to any loose pieces. Apply a new chunk of wallpaper to any sections that are missing. It doesn't need to match, you just need to create a flat, even surface.
  • Clean the walls with trisodium phosphate. Natural Handyman recommends a mixture of ½ cup TSP and 2 gallons warm water. Dampen a rag and wipe down the walls with the mixture.
  • Apply a thin layer of joint compound to all the seams, including the seams along the ceiling and floor. Allow the compound to dry completely before sanding it down until it is flush with the surrounding wall. The joint compound helps prevent the paper from peeling in the future.
  • Apply an oil-based primer to the wallpaper. If the wallpaper is darker, you may need to apply two or even three coats. Allow the primer to dry completely.
  • Cover the walls with your chosen paint color. Once again, you may need to apply an additional coat to get the finished look you're after. You don't need any specialized tools or equipment to paint over wallpaper.

Tearing Down Wallpaper

If you have the time or if the wallpaper is heavily textured, tearing it down is a great option. However, be aware this is a labor-intensive job. Before you begin, check to see if the wallpaper is strippable. If it is, you can simply pull the wallpaper away from the wall at the seam with a utility knife. Once you have the paper strip started, simply pull the entire chunk away from the wall.

Unfortunately, if the paper isn't strippable, you will need to do extra work to get it down. Here is how to remove pasted wallpaper:

  • Begin by covering the baseboards and the first few inches of flooring near the wall with plastic tarp. Removing wallpaper will get very messy.
  • Next, find a spot on the wallpaper that is loose and carefully begin pulling away the facing. Continue to pull away the facing until it is all gone. This will leave the backing behind.
  • Dampen all the backing with a sponge soaked in plain water. Allow the water to loosen the adhesive for several minutes.
  • Carefully begin scraping off the backing with a putty knife. Continue until the majority of the backing and adhesive are gone.
  • Eliminate any adhesive and backing that wouldn't come off with the putty knife by applying a gel stripper. Apply the stripper according to the package directions and remove the stubborn paste and backing.

Once the backing and paste are eliminated, repair any damage or nail holes before applying your paint and primer.

Whether you choose to paint over or pull down your unwanted wallpaper, you will achieve an amazing finished product if you follow the correct steps and utilize the correct paint supplies.