When it comes to unsightly wallpaper there are only two options -- cover it or remove it. Better Homes and Gardens contributing editor Danny Lipford shows you how to do both.
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Beauty is often said to be in the eye of the beholder, and that is especially true when it comes to wallpaper. So if the floral pattern the previous owners loved is giving you nightmares, it might be time to make a change.
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Paint Over Wallpaper
If the wallpaper is in good condition and not made of vinyl, it may be possible to paint over it rather than remove it. When painting over wallpaper, prime it first with a shellac-based stain blocking primer or one made for painting over wallpaper. Test the primer on a small area first and allow it to dry to be sure it doesn't cause the glue in the paper to pull loose.
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When removing wallpaper, it's necessary to score the paper first to allow the wallpaper remover to penetrate. This can be done with a special wallpaper scoring tool or a standard utility knife. When using a utility knife to score the paper, apply only enough pressure to cut through the wallpaper to keep from damaging the wall. Score horizontal lines in the wallpaper every foot or so.
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Mix Wallpaper Remover
To remove the wallpaper, fill a pump-up sprayer with a mixture of warm water and wallpaper remover, following the directions on the wallpaper remover container.
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Secure the lid on the sprayer and pump it up. Wallpaper remover can also be applied using a paint roller.
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Turn Off Power
Turn off the circuit breaker that powers the switches or outlets on the wall, and remove any electrical covers.
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Apply Wallpaper Remover
Spray or roll the wallpaper remover on the wall, then wait 15 minutes or so for it to soak through and loosen the paper. Be sure to wear protective eyewear when spraying wallpaper remover.
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Apply a second coat of wallpaper remover to keep the paper moist. Use a putty or drywall knife to loosen the paper, then begin peeling it off. Be careful not to gouge the wall.
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Remove Backing Layer
Often the top layer of wallpaper will separate from the backing. If this happens, apply the wallpaper remover again and repeat the process.
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Continue working until all the wallpaper has been removed. Patch any bad spots on the wall with spackling compound. Allow the spackling to dry and sand it smooth before painting.