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Removing Wallpaper with Vinegar?

Has anyone heard of removing wall paper with vinegar and water? I don't want to use any of the chemical removers and have a large bedroom with gaudy wallpaper that needs to come down in order to paint. Someone told me to try vinegar and water in a spray bottle. She said leave the spray on it for an hour or two and it should peel off easily.

A. Spruce
Re: Removing Wallpaper with Vinegar?

Vinegar isn't going to do anything but smell up the room your working in. If you've got the time to wait for an hour or two for the solution to soak into the paper, plain old water will do just fine.

A little wallpaper 101 for you:

Wallpaper paste is water soluble, so all you have to do is get moisture to the back side of the paper and it will magically fall off the wall, ok, maybe not magically, but it will come off with ease. Wallpaper removers are surfactants, they break the surface tension of the water so that it will soak through the pores of the paper surface more quickly and easily. Do you have to buy wallpaper remover solution? No, you can just as easily use a 1/4 cup of fabric softener in warm water.

You will want to protect your floors with heavy plastic to capture any water runoff and soggy wallpaper. Taping the plastic to the baseboard would be a good idea. I like to apply the solution with a garden sprayer and tile sponge, the sprayer will cover larger areas more quickly and easily, while the sponge kind of holds/smears the solution across the paper and into the pores of the paper.

Using a drywall knife or wallpaper scra-per, start working the paper loose. If you can peel the top layer off this will aid getting the water solution to soak into the backing and loosen the glue. You'll find this particularly helpful if you're pulling a foil or vinyl faced paper.

DO NOT dig at the paper, keep it wet, work slowly and carefully so as to do as little damage to the wall surface behind. If you're working over drywall, you will definitely have some wall repairs to do once you finish removing the wallpaper. If you're working over plaster, then less likely/severe damage will occure, not that you shouldn't still be careful.

Once all the wallpaper is off, wipe the entire wall down with clean rinse water until you get all of the wallpaper glue off the wall. Work carefully around any drywall damage, so as not to make it any worse as you are cleaning. With the cleaning done, repairs can be made, then I'd recommend two coats of primer and two coats of paint.

Re: Removing Wallpaper with Vinegar?

Just to add to spruce's comprehensive reply above:

1. get yourself a paper tiger wallpaper scorer - a hand tool designed to score the paper to let the solution in, and score the paper lightly. Work in sections to get full coverage.

2. Don't use vinegar, warm water is good. Also warm water with a commercially available wallpaper remover solution is good too.

3. Don't expect miracles, sometimes it's easy and sometimes it's not. But do expect a big mess :):(

4. Once the wallpaper is gone you start preparing the wall for painting, by applying two coats of good primer.

Good luck.

A. Spruce
Re: Removing Wallpaper with Vinegar?

My experience with paper tigers is that they tend to cause more damage than good, so use EXTREME care if you go this route. What I prefer to do is find a place along seams or outlets where I can get a hold of the edge of the paper and start tearing the surface layer off to expose the underlayer of paper. Once you get there, the water soaks in with ease and you can start saturating it to soften the glue of the paper.

Re: Removing Wallpaper with Vinegar?

To keep the wall paper wetted and from drying out, spray the wall with water,then stick on a large sheet of light plastic. The water tension will hold the plastic in place.

If you find more time and water are needed, simply peel a little of the top of the plastic sheet back and squirt water behind the plastic from the top.

Oh and expect a huge mess.

Re: Removing Wallpaper with Vinegar?

I agree that the Paper Tiger can do a lot of damage by puncturing the underlying drywall paper and allowing the water to get into the drywall itself. I preferred to sand the wall with 36 grit sandpaper to scratch through the protective plastic coating ,which most wallpapers have, and the inks which also repell water. You don't have to get all the way to the wall, just til you see the white of the undelying wallpaper paper.

I prefer not to wet the whole room down at once, but merely part of the room. The problem is that once the wallpaper starts coming down, you can't keep up with its removal and scrubbing of the paste before it starts drying down . If this happens, you have needlessly wet the wall and must re-wet it. The quicker you can get a section of wall cleaned the better, before unneccessary damage is done to a wall which has been too softened by prolonged contact with the water.

One of the biggest mistakes amateurs make is to start "picking" at the paper before it is ready to release. This is where the gouging with knives occurs. I always advise that wallpaper removing requires lots of water and lots of patience! My tool of preference is a 2 1/2inch angled flexible sc****r. the flex allows a better undercutting attack at the edge of the wallpaper. When used for this purpose, the edge of the knife gets stropped razor sharp.

One trick for keeping moisture on the wall while soaking is to mix up a batch of cellulose paste from dry powder. It forms a wet, heavy gel which can be rolled on the wall and will stay in place while slowly wetting through to the underlying paste. This was effective in places such as stairhalls where it is too difficult to control large amounts of water running down the wall onto the stair treads and carpet.

To me, the frustrating part of taking wallpaper off is that how well it comes off is largely out of your control. It depends on how conscienscious the paperhanger was who hung the paper in the first place. If he sealed the wall well before hanging the paper, the moisture will stop at that sealer and the paste will soften quickly. If he didn't, good luck!

Re: Removing Wallpaper with Vinegar?

Thanks for the tips everyone! That wallpaper has been up on the wall for almost 30 years and hasn't peeled at all, which is amazing to me. I will try the water and see how it goes.

A. Spruce
Re: Removing Wallpaper with Vinegar?
Rootoo wrote:

Thanks for the tips everyone! That wallpaper has been up on the wall for almost 30 years and hasn't peeled at all, which is amazing to me. I will try the water and see how it goes.

As I said earlier, water alone will work, but it's going to increase the time it takes you to complete this project. At the very least, add some fabric softener to the water and it will penetrate the paper much more quickly. Another method yet to be discussed is steam. You can rent special wallpaper steamers, basically they're an iron on steroids. A steam molecule is smaller than a drop of water, so it penetrates more readily, the heat also helps to loosen the glue. Best part is, you use water only, no additives are necessary when using steam. You will, however, still need to clean the walls thoroughly once you're done.

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