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Wallpaper removal for beginners


Wallpaper adds dimension to a room. To make it last longer, preparation is the key.

Whether you choose wallpaper or paint, preparation is important to the success of the project. There is no reason not to try wallpapering as a do-it-yourself project, especially if you have the right tools.

Just as important, however, is how you go about preparing the base walls that will hold that wallpaper.

Installation - whether on brand new walls or in an older home - offers a few challenges.

If you are wallpapering in a new home and the walls are unfinished, then a primer is essential for proper adhesion. The primer will also keep glue and moisture from penetrating into the sheetrock. In addition, if you ever decide to remove the paper, you'll be at less risk of damaging the walls.

Check with your home improvement store experts for the best primers. You'll probably want an oil-based primer or a glue-size product.

If you are working in an older house, it may have plaster walls. Because lime is one of the ingredients used to make plaster, you can also use the glue-size primer to seal off these walls. Any place that alkaline exists, you can expect a bleed through.

When you apply glue-size to plaster, it may draw out what are referred to as "hot spots" - areas that have high alkalinity. They'll range in shade from light pink to purple and have to be treated before you wallpaper. A 1:2 solution of acetic acid and water can be brushed on to neutralize the area. Take precautions: wear rubber gloves.

You can paper over paint, but first determine what type of paint is on the walls. If it has a shine, then you will need to de-gloss the surface by roughening it up. Liquid solvents can be purchased at your home improvement store. Again, use gloves and be sure to have plenty of good ventilation in the room.

Most walls will be covered in either matte or flat type paints. Clean them well and allow to dry thoroughly. That is all they should need before you begin wallpapering.

If at all possible, remove old wallpaper before adding new. In some cases, it may not be feasible, especially if the paper was applied directly to sheetrock. Foil-type papers are also difficult, if not impossible to remove. The surface keeps wallpaper removal products from penetrating.

Old wallpaper that is clean and has smooth seams is a good candidate for remaining in place. You do run the risk, however, of having the newer wallpaper glue react adversely to the old, which can result in both sheets lifting off eventually.

If you decide to leave the old paper, try spackling over the seams, sanding them down and then priming the entire wall. Let dry thoroughly and then add new wallpaper.

You'll find plenty of tools to help with paper removal and lots of expert advice on applying new wallpaper. Browse the stores and ask questions about the products; you'll be able to make an informed decision on how to tackle your wallpapering project.

Now all that's left is to pick out a spectacular paper and put it on your walls.


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