By Mike MorrisMore in Windows Walls and Doors
You can rent a commercial wallpaper steamer as an alternative to solvents. Steamers are especially good at removing stiff, heavy, old-style wallpapers and papers that have been adhered for a very long time.
Like solvents, steamers are messy in their own way, releasing hot steam and dripping hot water, so wear work gloves or rubber gloves and eye protection with this method as well. Steamers also introduce copious amounts of moisture into a room, so open a window or ventilate with fans to prevent moisture buildup in confined areas.
To use a wallpaper steamer, place the steamer pad on the surface of the wallpaper and hold it long enough to allow the steam to penetrate the paper and soften the glue. Experience will tell you how long to hold the steamer pad against the wall — if you apply too little steam, the wallpaper will be difficult to remove. If you apply too much steam for too long, however, you can damage the drywall below and even soften a plaster surface.
Once the wallpaper is loosened, use a scraper to remove it — do not pull it away with your hands because the steam will have superheated the glue and paper and could cause burns. This process can be time-consuming, but the more effort you dedicate to steaming, the less time you'll spend scraping.
After the solvent or steam has loosened the wallpaper, start removing the paper at a seam or edge of a perforation. Use a wallpaper scraping tool, plastic putty knife or drywall knife, being careful not to gouge or tear through the drywall paper of the wall surface below. You may have to keep applying steam or reapply solvent to stubborn areas. Continue scraping until all of the wallpaper and any backing is removed.
Prepare a bucket of very hot water mixed with a small amount of tri-sodium phosphate (TSP), a heavy duty cleaner available at hardware stores. Use a sponge to wipe down the walls with this solution and remove all traces of wallpaper adhesive. Be careful not to oversaturate the walls. Finally, sponge the walls with clean water and towel dry.
Use spackling compound to patch any nicks or gouges in either drywall or plaster. Allow the repairs to dry thoroughly, then sand lightly with 150-grit sandpaper and wipe clean.