How to: Wallpaper removal/wall restoration

Posted by Anthony Giangrossi on Mar 16, 2016 3:00:00 PM

The homeowner decided he was going to remove the wallpaper himself. After his initial attempt he realized the paper was too difficult to remove and was causing major damage to the walls. We stepped in to take over the wallpaper removal after the initial layer had been removed as seen in the below picture. From that point we followed a multi step process (noted below) to remove the remaining wallpaper and restore the walls back to new.

1. After the first layer of wallpaper was removed there remained a layer of wallpaper glue that needed to be removed. We added two cups of DIF wallpaper remover to one gallon of warm water and applied to the glue with a wet sponge. After the first application had soaked into the glue was dry we applied another coat of wallpaper remover and while the glue was wet we used scrapers to remove the glue. Keeping the wall / glue wet makes the removal process much easier. Drag the scraper down the wall and avoid pushing up or across as that will cause damage to the walls.

The homeowner scraped up and across the wall which caused him to dig into the plaster and remove chunks of the wall. This left the walls in bad condition as seen in the below picture. The wall repairs leads us to the next step in the restoration process.


2. After the glue was completely removed the walls were primed with one coat of Insl-x Stix bonging primer. Priming the walls prior to patching will bond any loose areas and make all of the imperfections more visible. Once the primer dried (one hour) the skim coating process of the walls can begin. Skim coating is different from patching in that the entire wall surface will be covered (skim coated) with patch rather than applying patch to imperfect areas here or there on the wall. The base skim coat is applied with USG Sheetrock DuraBond 20 using a 12" plaster trowl. The 20 stands for the working time (15 minutes) of the patch before it starts to dry (harden) and can't be applied to the walls. The DuraBond is applied from top to bottom and left to right across the walls as to provide a level base coat. The base coat provides a very smooth level finish that little to no sanding is necessary that allows for the first of two tops coats to be applied.

The drying time of the base coat is approximately 4-6 hours depending on temperature. After the base coat is completely dry the middle (second) skim coat is applied directly over the base coat with USG Sheetrock Lightweight Setting-Type Joint Compound Easy Sand 20. Using the same application process described above for the base coat. The second skim coat drying time is also approximately 4-6 hours and once dry the final top coat can be applied using the same products and application. The picture below shows the finished product of one base coat, middle coat and top coat. After the top coat is dried it's time to sand the walls in preparation for priming.


3. Depending on how smooth the skim coat has been applied will determine if wet or dry sanding is necessary before priming. If there are medium to thick edges of patch, dry sanding is necessary with 100cc sand paper to smooth out the edges and then sand all surfaces with 150cc-180cc sand paper to provide a nice smooth finish. After the sanding is complete wash the walls with lukewarm water to remove the dust prior to priming. If the walls are not washed the dust that remains on the walls will create a rough surface after priming is complete. If the patch edges are small to none then wet sanding with a sponge will smooth out the patch to ready for priming. The picture below shows the finished product after wet sanding was complete and one coat of Insl-x Stix bonding primer was applied.


4. The final step in the wall restoration process is apply two coats of the wall color chosen for the room. After the first coat of paint is applied (roll with 3/4" 50/50 Wooster nylon/polyester lambswool nap) and dried (1-2 hours) it's time to take another look at the walls for any imperfections that need minor patching. After the minor areas are patched, sanded and cleaned make sure to spot paint those areas with one coat of the wall color. This will provide a uniform finish when the second (top) coat of paint is applied. The picture below shows the finish product of the wall restoration process with two coats of Benjamin Moore Alaska White in Ben eggshell.


Overall, the homeowner was so excited to see the finished product as he did not think the walls could be restored back to the original finish due to the damage he caused during wallpaper removal. The end result is that we were all very happy with the finished product.

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