Wallpaper woes
December 24, 2005 4:53 AM   Subscribe

Actual "on a wall" type wallpaper question. Previous owners put up a 24" pickett fence border around the bottom of a bedroom that just will not come off.

The border is actually a big sticker so thin that it is like paper (the kind you would write on). So what is happening is that:

1) if you just try to peel it off/scrape it off, youre left with the adhesive and a thin layer of paper.

2) a heat gun just goes right through it and heats the underlying paint. Then the paint peels off the wall. Ditto with just using a hair dryer.

3) using something like a paper tiger to perforate the paper ends up going right through the first layer of drywall to the gypsum. (remember this stuff is *thin*)

This stuff isnt wallpaper and it seems like nothing wallpaper-related works. I'd really hate to have to cover it with wainscot or the like, but I dont think I'll have a choice.

Anyone have any ideas I can try?

posted by sandra_s to Home & Garden (16 answers total)
Have you considered painting over it? If you are going to change the wall color/decor altogether and this border is as thin as you describe you could get away with painting over it and even using a faux-finish technique to blend it right in.

I bought a condo with a glued-on mess of a wallpaper job and I painted it and finished it and no one is any the wiser.
posted by Makebusy7 at 5:05 AM on December 24, 2005

When I was a kid we bought a house that had decades of wallpaper, one layer over another, in nearly every room. Seven layers in some places. It was on top of a dry, crumbling plaster mixed with camel hair. It was a bitch to get off, but we used a solution of vinegar and water. The smell of the vinegar dissipates quickly.
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:22 AM on December 24, 2005

You might want to try a solvent like Goo-Gone. It does a great job of dissolving glue. You might want to pull off the top layer of the sticker if it's waterproof.
posted by Marky at 5:38 AM on December 24, 2005

Try using TSP (trisodium phosphate, or equivalent) to remove it. becareful with that shit. Alternately, skim a light coat of drywall mud over it.
posted by notsnot at 6:09 AM on December 24, 2005

Ancient Wallpaper removal. Ahh, the days.

Ok, this is what we did:

1) Scoring is a crock. Don't do it.
2) Peel off the front - the vinyl bits, and leave the paper with glue behind. It's ok because there is a step three.

Chomp is the best stuff we've ever used to remove wallpaper, and we had the nasty vinyl kind. If you don't have an ACE Hardware near you, just order it online. We tried EVERYTHING they had at Home Depot. Nothing worked like this. The glue and paper will just melt off the walls. Hell, if it doesn't, email me, I'll come help you scrape the stuff off.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:12 AM on December 24, 2005 [1 favorite]

Steam iron?
posted by hortense at 7:51 AM on December 24, 2005

Best answer: Had a similar problem too. In a spray bottle, mix half lukewarm water and half cheap fabric softener. Spray it up, let it soak in about a minute, start peeling. Should work. Took down a housefull of the stuff that way.
posted by TeamBilly at 8:26 AM on December 24, 2005

TeamBilly's plan also works with Palmolive dish soap instead of fabric softener.
posted by nekton at 10:21 AM on December 24, 2005

You've probably already tried this tool, since it's not an uncommon wallpaper tool. But we found a "five-in-one tool" to be superb at getting wallpaper off. It might work for this troublesome border you've got.
posted by Alt F4 at 10:59 AM on December 24, 2005

A small clothing steamer?

I would think it would help, along with a plastic or rubber spatula. I have one and it's a great little gadget. Plus - no harsh chemicals.

Related: I would think that fabric softener would leave a bitch of a residue and would make future paint adhesion difficult if not impossible. teambilly, is that not the case? How do you clean softener off the walls?

Also - dude! I know you, teambilly... I used to manage MS, your former place of residence. Hope you're happy and well.
posted by younggreenanne at 11:08 AM on December 24, 2005

When I bought my house it had a charming University of Michigan wallpaper border around the top that just wouldn't come off. It was paper-like as well. My mom suggested Windex. I just sprayed it on and it soaked through the paper and got the underlying glue off as well. It was a wet mess to scrape it off but afterwards painting was no problem.
posted by Miastar at 11:58 AM on December 24, 2005

Friend of mine used the fabric softener method, and apparently had no issues painting afterward. I don't recall any extreme measures taken, anyway. Other than never buying that type of fabric softener again.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:07 PM on December 24, 2005

Wallpaper steamer?
posted by Carbolic at 12:09 PM on December 24, 2005

I concur with the 5:1 scraper, CHOMP and TSP. I've used a combination of all three to tackle stubborn wallpaper. Just remember to give a good primer coat where you took it off because I had some glue or something bleed back through the area I painted over.
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:04 PM on December 24, 2005

I must agree with Medieval Maven and her suggestion to use fabric softener. When we moved into our house about a year ago, it was covered in wall paper. We diluted some fabric softener (make sure to get one with a minimally potent scent) with water in a spray bottle, and sprayed it right onto the paper. It still takes some elbow grease to get it all off, but without this solution, I don't know what we would have done. Good luck!
posted by viachicago at 10:54 PM on December 24, 2005

Couple additional notes on the fab-softener idea...

1) Warm water is essential, and use 50% dilution.
2) I would HIGHLY recommend priming the walls before you paint them (KILZ works great, and it's cheap) to ensure good coverage.

We had to go the fab-softener route because NOTHING else would work. Not Zep, not a steamer...nothing. This was the only thing that worked.
posted by TeamBilly at 8:17 AM on December 25, 2005

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