We know. It seemed like such a good idea at the time. Now that it’s time to remove the stuff, you wonder what came over you. Actually, good wallpaper is an excellent way to enrich rooms and personalise your home and – truth be told – removing it isn’t all that horrible. But, in the process of staging your home to sell, wallpaper removal could be part of the deal. You may love the tiger stripes in your bedroom, but chances are your potential buyers will not. The big cat should go.

In order to prepare your walls for a fresh new neutral coat of paint, there are several steps and some hard work in your future. Plan an entire weekend for the project per room. It’s messy and time consuming, but the result will be a bigger sale price for your property in the end.

Preparation:

  • Remove all furniture from the room or – at the bare minimum – push it to the centre of the room and cover it with plastic.
  • Remove everything from the walls, including switch plates, outlet covers, and air vents.
  • Turn off the power to the room. (You can use extension cords and project lights to illuminate your work if you happen to be working at night.)
  • Install a drop cloth to protect floors and to catch the sticky strips of paper/vinyl as they fall.

Score and soak:

  • Purchase a small scoring tool at the hardware store to help with preparing the paper to absorb water. The inexpensive tool fits in the palm of your hand like a computer mouse, but it has teeth. The bottom side of the tool has little wheels with sharp edges that will poke holes in the paper as you run the tool across the wallpaper.
  • Using the hottest water you can tolerate, soak the scored paper with a spray bottle – or you can use a sponge mop if you’re feeling gung-ho.
  • Allow the paper to soak up the water for at least 15 minutes.

 

Scrape:

  • It’s helpful to begin the process under a switch plate or at a seam where the paper is loose. Just grab an edge and peel. Eventually you may need a putty knife scraper to peel the paper off. Be gentle, though. Remember every gouge you create will need to be filled and sanded later. Your goal is to leave the surface bare of the paper and the backing. (No – you’re not finished yet.)

Scrub:

  • The glue that held your beautiful tiger stripes on the wall is very stubborn. It will take some elbow grease and plenty of time to remove it. We’d like to report that there are brand new chemicals that make this easier, but there just aren’t. Understand, though, that unless the glue is totally removed, painting the wall is ill advised. The glue will interfere with the paint’s finish, leaving a dull and spotty appearance. After all your hard work, it would be a shame to quit too soon, and end up with a nasty paint job. Go the extra mile, intrepid homeowner.

 

Note: Alternatives to the soaking process include renting a steamer to assist with the removal. Generally, unless you do this frequently, it will probably take you longer to learn to use this tool than it would take to scrape it by hand. If you run across a particularly difficult patch of paste, you can use a chemical gel stripper to help remove stubborn spots, but don’t forget to wear protective gloves.

When you consult with your home staging professional, his or her experience with staging your home for sale could save you from all this backbreaking labour. The staging company will almost always have a list of professionals who do this sort of job for a living and who can make short work of your stripes, wherever they may be. Depending on how you value your time and energy, it may be a wise move to leave this project to the pros and spend your personal resources elsewhere.

Remember, beautiful walls are the backdrop against which your new buyer will see their new life begin to materialise. Clean, fresh, flawless paint is an important starting point for successfully staging your home for sale. As tempting as it may be when you’re tired, remember that wall preparation is not the place to skimp. Your effort is sure to be rewarded in the end.

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