Getting Rid of Wallpaper Paste

In this post, I talked about getting rid of the wallpaper in my bathroom. After the celebration of getting the last of the wallpaper was off the walls came the stark realization that there was still plenty of wallpaper paste still stuck to the walls.

I2014-07-25 13.53.35 contemplated leaving it as a rustic look, perhaps it looks like a designer faux plaster finish. Alas, it really doesn’t. It just looks messy.

Painting over wallpaper paste is not recommended. It’ll give a lumpy texture and the paint will likely peel. It needs to come off! But how?

It sounds like a lot of mess, but I’ve figured out a way. First, assemble your supplies. You’ll need:

  • a garden sprayer (the one you used to take down the wallpaper — be sure it’s one that hasn’t been used for pesticides or herbicides!)
  • the rest of the gallon of vinegar you bought to take down the wallpaper
  • a squeegee
  • a scrub brush
  • several rags or sponges
  • a bucket
  • a bag or container for the gooey paste
  • a ladder
  • protective gloves (personally, I can’t stand them, but the wallpaper paste isn’t good for you)
  • great music to keep you company

2014-07-25 13.57.51Here’s my test area. It’s a small area that is easy to photograph, despite the shadow. Note how dirty it looks. That “dirt” is the dried paste. The steps required to get the paste off are:

  1. rehydrate the paste
  2. scrape the bulk of it off
  3. repeat until there isn’t any paste left on the wall

Sounds like fun, right? Well, it’s not TOO bad!

2014-07-25 13.58.40 Step 1: Rehydrate the paste.

Fill your garden sprayer with warm water and a couple of “glugs” of vinegar (oh, around a cup or so). Set the sprayer’s spray pattern to one that you’d use for spraying window cleaner on a mirror (in other words, neither a stream nor a fine mist). Pump up the pressure and you’re ready to spray.

Spray the entire wall, thoroughly wetting it. The idea is for the dry paste to soak up the water. Give it a good wetting, but water doesn’t need to drip down the wall.

Now the important part: WAIT. Give it 3-5 minutes. Then spray again. Continue waiting and spraying as long as the paste is still absorbing more water. Very little water should make it to the floor.

The more patience used in this step, the more paste you’ll take off in this step. It’s worth being patient!

2014-07-25 13.59.55 Step 2: Scrape off the paste

Using your squeegee, start at the bottom and pull the squeegee up the wall. The gooey paste will collect on the squeegee.

2014-07-25 14.00.17 Continue pulling up the wall, stopping if the squeegee gets full of goo. You can see the goo collecting on the squeegee!

For thicker goo, use less water and wait longer. For runny goo, use lots more water (you still have to wait). I like the goo to be a little thicker so it doesn’t run off the squeegee as easily.

Scrape the goo into a newspaper, trash bag, or some other dry collection device. These goo balls will not easily dissolve in water, so trying to rinse the squeegee in a bucket will only collect a bunch of slimy goo balls in the bottom of a bucket.

Continue squeegeeing until the entire rehydrated area is scraped.

2014-07-25 14.02.17 Step 3: Rehydrate and scrape again

Spray the wall again. There should be a lot less dried paste left, so you’ll probably need a little less water. With less paste left, now you can use a scrub brush to loosen the rest of the paste. Spray again and wait a minute or two, then begin the squeegee process again.

2014-07-25 14.04.24 This time, the squeegee will pick up a bit of pigment from the paint or primer underneath the wallpaper (hopefully there’s paint/primer underneath the wallpaper!).

Continue scraping the paste off the wall and into the collection container.

2014-07-25 14.06.00  

With any luck, there’s very little paste left and all that needs to be done is rinse off the residue. If there’s more visible paste left, repeat the wetting/scrub brush/scraping most of the paste is gone.

UStep 4: Repeat one last time!

Spray the wall with enough water as if you are spraying it with a cleaner. Using a wet rag or sponge, wipe off any remaining paste. Wring out the rag frequently. This step should be more of a “rinse” to get the last of the residue off the wall.

That’s all there is to it! How long does this take? The time stamps on my pictures show about 10 minutes for the maybe 3 square foot section. I probably should have waited just a TAD bit longer for the water to hydrate the paste, but I was ready to take some pictures!

Before and After

Before

Before

After

After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now to finish the rest of the bathroom. All I have to do is figure out how to get do this from a ladder and get to the top of the 12′ vaulted ceiling!

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