You'll have to ask my wife why redoing the living room wallpaper all day Saturday was such a high priority to impress the babysitter; but as I had been slow to tackle the redecorating project, I suspect my wife simply seized the occasion to motivate our efforts.
Urgent as our wallpaper project was, I still think I got off easy compared with another couple I know who once struggled to build a new deck over a weekend becasue the "in-laws" were coming for a stay (talk about project motivation!).
Chances are you're facing a wallpaper removal project because you've recently bought a home with '70s glam wallpaper that won't quit, and it lines everything from the foyer to the family room. The designs probably make your eyes hurt, so the offending wallpaper must come down, like yesterday.
If you're new to wallpapering -- and the medium is making a comeback with hip patterns and colors: see our Spaces post -- hopefully I can save you some hardship and time with the following tips for taking down stubborn paper.
The easiest wallpaper to remove (if you're lucky) is the kind made of recent vinyl material. It's formulated to simply peel off with your fingers. You can grab a corner and strip off long sheets with ease. It's almost fun. (I know, I need to skip a DIY project or two and get out more.)
Many older wallpapers, however, aren't so cooperative. They can cling to walls as if applied with cement. To free such wallpaper, you'll need plenty of chemical removal solution, elbow grease, and patience.
First, cover your good floor with a dropcloth -- you're sure to make a mess, but the clean-up is fast -- wear rubber saefty gloves, and set up a bucket filled with warm water and a commercial wallpaper removal solution (follow the manufacturer's suggested mixture ratio).
Lightly score the wallpaper with a perforation tool (yep, floor to ceiling, wall to wall, gotta cover it all) to make the paper more porous and allow the solution to permeate and soften the adhesive backing.
Next you can either use a sprayer to saturate the wallpaper with the removal solution, or for greater control of smaller areas to strip at a time, use a large sponge to work the solution thoroughly into the paper. Let the solution soak into the paper over time, according to the manufacturer's instructions.
OK, now you can get tough with your wallpaper nemesis. Use a 6" wallboard knife to scape the old paper from the wall. Glide the knife under lose edges and sections of wallpaper, lifting the paper up and pulling it off as you work across an entire wall.
Once the main wallpaper is down, you're likely to find a few stubborn straggler pieces. Moisten these sections again with the solution, and scrape a little more firmly to dig them out (but not so roughly that you gouge the wallboard).
Now use your sprayer or sponge to spread another application of the solution onto the walls and remove all traces of adhesive residue. Rinse the walls with water and let them dry.
Your walls are now clean and smooth for a fresh application of paint -- or, if you dare, new wallpaper.