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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Hampton Roads, VA
    Posts
    4

    Post Paint wallpaper v. strip wallpaper v. replace walls?

    We are renovating an apartment built in 1916. The walls are plaster with wallpaper that has been painted over many times. I think there is only one layer of wallpaper (several layers of paint including lead paint), but can't be sure. The condition of the walls varies from room to room. Some have peeling wallpaper, others have bubbling by the molding, and others look fine except for the regular seams that you can see under the paint. The state of the plaster is a bit of a mystery. I really, really hate the seams and want all the painted wallpaper removed. We've had three contractors look at the space and they all have different views on what we should do. One thinks stripping the wallpaper is a terrible idea and assures us that a good painter can paint over the wallpaper so that no seams show. If I don't want to paint over the wallpaper, he thinks we should consider tearing out the plaster walls and replacing them with drywall (which appears to have been done in one of the bedrooms).

    Has anyone done any of these options before? I'm worried that the plaster underneath will end up being a mess if we strip the walls but I don't want to paint over everything just because it's the cheaper/easier option (especially if the seams stay!). Ripping the walls out seems extreme but maybe would be less of a project them stripping the wallpaper and repairing the plaster. I'd appreciate any advice or personal experiences. Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
    Posts
    1,583

    Default Re: Paint wallpaper v. strip wallpaper v. replace walls?

    bas9x,

    Wallpaper normally strips fairly well from plaster. Plaster is much harder and water resistive than drywall.

    I would make a test panel to see how dificult the process will be. Sometimes a heavy build up of wallpaper could actually be removed dry from plaster using a sharpened 2 1/2 flexible, angled spackle knife. The original wallpaper is very likely held on with old fashioned wheat paste.If you can get under the heavy, cardboard like paper, an arced stroke would often under cut the paper right down to the plaster. Then only the paste would have to be removed. Years ago I had a \sub-contractor who speciallized in just this process. I have seen him go in such a room and stripp it almost bare in less than on hour!

    Another possiblity is to get some 36 grit sandpaper and sand through the paint until you see the paper. Then keep spraying water onto the area until it loosens. Here is where plaster really has the advantage over drywall.

    A steamer is also an alternative after sanding the painted paper. 110 volt steamers are kind of slow though.

    If your plaster is in relatively good shape, it is definitely better than tearing down and drywalling! That is an incredible mess, although it would allow you to upgrade the mechanicals and insulation in the walls.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    254

    Default Re: Paint wallpaper v. strip wallpaper v. replace walls?

    Use Ordjens approach with water behind the paper. Use a sprayer and use plenty of water it won't harm the plaster.
    Remove glue as Ordjen stated.
    Than skim with a good Veneer plaster finish I use Master of Plaster.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Portland, Oregon, formerly of Chicago
    Posts
    1,583

    Default Re: Paint wallpaper v. strip wallpaper v. replace walls?

    bas9x,

    Wallpaper normally strips fairly well from plaster. Plaster is much harder and water resistive than drywall.

    I would make a test panel to see how dificult the process will be. Sometimes a heavy build up of wallpaper could actually be removed dry from plaster using a sharpened 2 1/2 flexible, angled spackle knife. The original wallpaper is very likely held on with old fashioned wheat paste.If you can get under the heavy, cardboard like paper, an arced stroke would often under cut the paper right down to the plaster. Then only the paste would have to be removed. Years ago I had a \sub-contractor who speciallized in just this process. I have seen him go in such a room and stripp it almost bare in less than on hour!

    Another possiblity is to get some 36 grit sandpaper and sand through the paint until you see the paper. Then keep spraying water onto the area until it loosens. Here is where plaster really has the advantage over drywall.

    A steamer is also an alternative after sanding the painted paper. 110 volt steamers are kind of slow though.

    If your plaster is in relatively good shape, it is definitely better than tearing down and drywalling! That is an incredible mess, although it would allow you to upgrade the mechanicals and insulation in the walls.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,081

    Default Re: Paint wallpaper v. strip wallpaper v. replace walls?

    Removing the wallpaper(s) is a must, as suggested above.

    There is a small device, called paper tiger, that scores the wallpaper and allows water to go under the paper, for an easy removal. Get this tool if you want to DIY.

    After the paper is removed and the plaster inspected, repaired and made ready, you can start painting. Prime with 2 coats of zinsser 123 since the problem will be the wallpaper glue on the wall.

    Then paint. Don't be surprised if you have to repeat. Good luck with this messy job.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    The thumb, MI
    Posts
    54

    Default Re: Paint wallpaper v. strip wallpaper v. replace walls?

    You did say LEAD paint, right? That's another can 'o worms. If you do decide to strip you should first check with your local jurisdiction for advice on how to dispose of the hazardous waste.

    Was lead listed in the declarations paperwork you viewed before buying?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Paint wallpaper v. strip wallpaper v. replace walls?

    I am currently going through a similar situation. Wallpaper on plaster walls, some painted with latex paint. Fortunately in our case the paint was not lead based so we didn't have to deal with that issue(check your local regs!).

    Our process was to use a wall stripper (4" razor blade with long handle) to get as much of the paper off the wall as we could. In some areas/rooms we were able to get down to the bare plaster with no problem. Other areas/rooms were much more difficult with most of the paper backer being left on the wall. In both situations we wet down the walls with DIF (concentrate) in a garden sprayer and the remaining paper backer came off no problem, leaving us with bare walls.

    Now that we have bare walls we're going to wash them down with DIRTEX, repair cracks and holes and then prime/paint the walls.

    Good luck with your project and please let us know what you do! Hopefully you can save the plaster walls.

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