Wallpaper Backing

6 Sep

Have you ever been so resistant to something that you refuse to believe it’s the right thing to do even when you know it probably really is? That’s me and wallpaper removal (and probably a few other things). After the bathroom project that never ended (which you can read about here and here and here and here), the thought of removing the wallpaper in the rest of the house makes me cringe. It’s in the dining room, living room, all bedrooms but one and the remaining bathroom. A lot of it is original, which makes it extra tricky. Almost 50 year old wallpaper wants to stay.

The other night the magnificent Maeve decided that the peeling section in the dining room irritated her and asked if she could peel it off.  Half an hour later she had pulled off all the paper in the living room (only one was papered…thank heavens) and half the dining room…the parts she could reach anyway. The backing of the paper was left behind and is stuck good and well to the wall.  No seams coming up anywhere that we could find. In fact, I had a hard time pulling up a seam of the backing paper.

So let’s just paint it, right?  Why not? It’s kind of a nice construction paper texture and would look good. It was about 9:15 at night and Maeve begged and pleaded, so I told her we she could paint a section and wait and see how it turned out. It actually looked pretty good. But something about this didn’t feel right. I remembered reading somewhere that painting wallpaper was a bad idea. Okay, I can see that. But what about painting wallpaper backing? I told Maeve to wait and went to do some research.

There are a wide variety of opinions on this. Never paint over wallpaper. You will totally regret it. Go ahead and do it. Go ahead and do it carefully with certain precautions. But what about the backing? Is it just as dire?

Some sites say no, but you must be very careful about the preparation.

When I removed a bit of the backing with some DIF and a scraper (which wasn’t difficult but incredibly tedious), I found some very old dried glue. I tried scrubbing it off with some TSP but it’s pretty stubborn and took a fair bit of elbow grease, which translates to some very strong elbows given the size of the house. Argh.

This dried glue is also found in Hannah and Hailey’s room, where the wall paper came off super easily and had no backing. The dried glue in the twins’ room is even more stubborn and comes off only with serious scrubbing with a brush.

Given the overwhelming task at hand, I am debating between the two methods and wondering if anyone out there has any thoughts or recommendations? If we scrub, we are into this project for a long long time. If we don’t and we sand the seams, seal and prime, what are the odds we will be in good shape? Would love to know your thoughts or if anyone’s ever done this before.


6 Responses to “Wallpaper Backing”

  1. Danielle Bridges Knoll October 16, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    you may have tackled most of this by now, but ours came off relatively easy with a mixture of warm water and fabric softener. I had to use kilz to cover any glue stains and then paint with interior paint. The paper that pulled from the backing was the easiest. The newer paper that wouldn’t detach from the paper back took a lot longer.

    • Brandy October 16, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

      We had a horrible time with it and ended up Kilzing (is that a word?) over the backing and painting and it turned out perfect. Can’t see seams coming through or anything. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Jennifer Stine-Sidney September 6, 2011 at 7:52 am #

    I had the same problem with wallpaper glue and I rerolled the DIf on (I bought it in the gallon jug and I used a paint roller) and let it sit and used the blade of the scraper to get the residue off and the washed down the walls. I found that leaving the Dif on as long as possible (okay lets face it sometimes it was a day) helped a lot and didn’t hurt my walls.

    • Brandy September 6, 2011 at 8:01 am #

      That’s good to know. And I like the idea of DIF on a roller. Spraying this entire house makes me tired just thinking of it! Thank you!


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