When you look online, you will find a TON of articles and videos about how to get rid of wallpaper. This video was published before and shows how to remove it. Some people recommend chemicals, others use vinegar or hot water, and some love using a steamer. What is noteworthy is that for every success story there is a tale of failure and frustration. Why?
The answer is simple: there are different kinds of wallpaper! Some are fairly thin, and come down as entire sheets faster than you can say “I love chocolate.” Others are made of thick, designer-type paper that will not come off no matter how much you soak, spray, or steam. This is what Melinda (featured in video above) and I ran into, and here is how we solved that problem.
We left the second layer of paper on the walls. We carefully inspected all the seams and corners to make sure they were in good shape. If you find any that are not, use some glue to make sure everything stays in place. Remove all nails, screws, and hooks you come across. Mask all surfaces you do not want paint on, and remove cover plates from light switches, electrical outlets, and so forth. Next, using a full-sized roller cover and paint tray, paint all wallpaper with an oil-based, fast-drying sealer. You will want to wear a suitable respirator and open doors and windows for ventilation, as the sealer vapor is toxic. Depending on the wallpaper and how much it absorbs the sealer, you may need to apply a second coat. You will love how this sealer will begin to hide that awful wall covering.
Next, find yourself an experienced drywall finisher. This person will apply drywall tape or mesh to all the seams, and then float these seams with drywall compound, known in the trades as ‘topping.’ In Melinda’s house, we asked the drywall finisher to ‘float’ (or ‘veneer’ or ‘skim coat’) all the walls. This means a thin layer of compound is applied onto the sealed surfaces.
TIP: If you have crown moulding or other trim that has a narrow profile, tell the drywall pro to feather the veneer along the moulding’s edges. If that is not done, the edge of the moulding’s profile will disappear and look strange.
After the skim coat dries, a vacuum sanding system is used to lightly sand it, leaving a beautifully smooth surface, ready to paint. Or, instead of the veneer, you can have the walls textured. This will be cheaper and a bit more forgiving if your walls contain a lot of irregularities.
TIP: Make sure a bright floodlight is used when the veneer is sanded. The light will make imperfections much easier to see. Use of a vacuum system is also important. This type of dust is very fine and will travel *everywhere*. Covering up any furnace vents is a good idea, too.
Now you will be ready to apply a regular, water-based drywall primer. An added benefit of this primer is that, once dry, it allows a much better view of the quality of the drywall finishing work. Look at where the seams were taped. Hold a straight edge across the seams horizontally, and if there are noticeable bumps, ask the finisher to float out that area more. Simply use a pencil and mark the areas that need attention. The extra veneer and drywall primer will cover the pencil marks eventually.
In case you are wondering about the purpose of oil-based sealer, the reason is that the skim coat contains a lot of moisture. To prevent that moisture from weakening the wallpaper adhesive, you will want to apply a barrier between the paper and the veneer.
Do you know of better ways to deal with annoying wallpaper that won’t come off? Please let us know in the comment section!
While replacing electrical wiring during a recent whole-house remodel, a fan switch had to be installed in a tiled bathroom wall. There were no spare tiles, so great care had to be taken to not cause cracks or other damage. With the right tools and a steady hand, here’s how to accomplish that task without too much trouble.
First make an outline of where you want to cut. Use a Sharpie or similar marker that will not smudge.
Cover the top and bottom marks with masking tape as shown. Trace the lines still visible under the tape, so you can see the lines clearly when you cut.
The purpose of the masking tape is to help keep your drill bit in place. The glazed surface of tile is so slippery that the tip of a drill bit is very likely to wander off.
Be sure to use a bit that is meant for drilling into tile. Carefully drill a hole in each corner of your outline. The reason for the holes is to prevent having to over-cut the outline beyond the surface that will be hidden by the cover plate.
Using a 4″ grinder fitted with a diamond blade, start making cuts in the tile. Unless you are certain there are no ‘live’ electrical wires or plumbing pipes behind the tile, keep the cuts as shallow as possible. You can probably use much cheaper carborundum blades instead of diamond. Buy several, as these blades will wear down quickly.
Keep a close eye on the depth of the cuts, and be prepared for lots of sparks and a glowing blade edge. If this is your first time, keep a fire extinguisher handy. If this is your 100th time, do the same. Be smart, not clever.
It is to be expected that this procedure will generate a lot of dust. Wear goggles, ear protection, gloves and a mask. Open the window if you have one, turn on the fan, and, well, you get the idea. What you see in this photo are not cracks caused by our work, but rather crazing in the glazed surface, accentuated by dust from the diamond blade. With a narrow-tipped cold chisel or flat-blade screwdriver carefully chip away the tile inside the outline.
Unfortunately there is some framing that had to be chiseled away. I recommend drilling a series of holes with a new 1″ spade bit, and then chiseling out the remainder with a sharp chisel. Be gentle, try to avoid vibration as much as possible, and all will be well.