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Old 03-10-2012, 11:57 AM   #1
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wallpaper glue removal


I'm at wits end with this wallpaper glue...

I've tried using Piranha (Lowes brand), the Depot brand... hot water with white vinegar... hot water with TSP powder (1/2-cup to 2 gals water)... liquid fabric softener... dishwashing liquid with hot water... it seems like it does slightly liquefy the glue slightly, but only enough to discolor the liquid being sprayed, it doesn't really cut it down the "thickness" of the glue...

The paper itself came off relatively easily but the adhesive apparently will not. I'm almost wondering if what I have is actually paint, except the people who lived here did absolutely nothing so I can't imagine them putting up wallpaper, I assume the builder did that back in 1950.

The walls are rock board, then a rough coat of plaster, then a smooth skim coat. So far the only luck I've had is chipping at it with a 3" blade but this is honestly a ridiculous proposition for the area I need to cover--my progress is maybe 30 minutes for an area about a square foot.

The paper was painted over at some point if it matters, tho I doubt it since the paper is coming off just fine, it's the glue that is impossible.

Any other advice before I start to tear out the plaster in favor of drywall?????

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Old 03-10-2012, 12:37 PM   #2
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Soak the paste good, then press painters plastic ( thin) on it - cut it into 4' strips so you can remove sections at a time- let the water work-
test with a 4 or 6' scraper to see if soft- rewet if needed until soft. Patience- it will work.

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Old 03-10-2012, 01:18 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Brushjockey View Post
Soak the paste good, then press painters plastic ( thin) on it - cut it into 4' strips so you can remove sections at a time- let the water work-
test with a 4 or 6' scraper to see if soft- rewet if needed until soft. Patience- it will work.
I did what you recommended, I decided to use the Pirahana gel, it's good at staying put on the wall, and also takes longer to dry.

Wish me luck

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Old 03-10-2012, 02:50 PM   #4
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Should work- I just use water- the plastic is what keeps it wet underneath.
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Old 03-10-2012, 02:51 PM   #5
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The green stuff looks more than paste- was the paste painted over before the last hang? You should be able to tell by a green film.
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Old 03-10-2012, 03:15 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Brushjockey View Post
The green stuff looks more than paste- was the paste painted over before the last hang? You should be able to tell by a green film.
Green stuff? It's all the same color, and I am unfortunately partly color blind... to me it looks more like a beige/brown, but it might be sort of green I guess?

The darker parts are the wallpaper glue/adhesive... the light parts are the smooth plaster coat.

Unfortunately even after leaving this stuff soaking for well over an hour it still wouldn't budge when I try to scrape it, it also doesn't respond at all to the scour side of a sponge.

I don't know the history, but I know the previous owners were here from 1956 until I bought it, and during that time they did effectively no repairs or upgrades--they allowed the bathroom joists to basically rot away beneath a leaky toilet, similar situation with a doorway as the result of another water leak... My guess is that this stuff was probably put up by the builder or the original owners from 1949~1956.

Whatever this stuff is, it's tough as nails!! When I scrape it, even after it has been soaking, it "flakes" as it's scraped, the bits are about the same as small snowflakes or dandruff... the material comes off basically dry... it's almost as though the moisture isn't even really penetrating it...

I'm guessing it probably will give some sort of a cancer too based on the rest of the materials used from that era that I've had to remove from this place... and of course I'm completely covered in it as it flakes...
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Last edited by bubbler; 03-10-2012 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 03-10-2012, 03:50 PM   #7
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Which make me think that it isn't the paste at all. Paste would soften.
Might be time for plan b. Let the whole mess dry well, sand just enough to knock off the rough bits., Prime all with Gardz ( some like to use oil , but gardz works great for this, and then you are going to have to reskim, reprime and then paint.
Sounds like even if the paste did come off, the surface would be rough enough to require a skim anyway.

If skimming seems a bit out of your league- might be time to get a pro in to do that. We do it all the time and can turn that around pretty fast.
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Old 03-10-2012, 04:01 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Brushjockey View Post
Which make me think that it isn't the paste at all. Paste would soften.
Might be time for plan b. Let the whole mess dry well, sand just enough to knock off the rough bits., Prime all with Gardz ( some like to use oil , but gardz works great for this, and then you are going to have to reskim, reprime and then paint.
Sounds like even if the paste did come off, the surface would be rough enough to require a skim anyway.

If skimming seems a bit out of your league- might be time to get a pro in to do that. We do it all the time and can turn that around pretty fast.
The surface gets slick when wet, tho I don't think I've ever used "just water" so I'll have to try that... but I assumed that the slick feeling meant it is paste, some sort of a paste designed to enrage and madden whoever comes along to remove it

Skim coating is beyond me I think just because I won't have the patience to do a good job at this point...

So once I've removed all the paper, the process is:
- Sand it all down
- Gardz
- Skim Coat
- Prime
- Finish paint

In this case I guess the skim coat will need to be a pro. The area I'm doing now is large & flat, but around the corner the spaces there has about 5 doorways in a tight configuration... I'm guessing that must slow down ($$$) the skim coating process?
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Old 03-10-2012, 04:19 PM   #9
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The pic showes green and white. I do not believe either one is paste. The green is most likely the original paint colorI have seen this many , many times.
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Old 03-10-2012, 04:48 PM   #10
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The slickness could be the stuff you are adding.
Of course the more complicated the more time it will take.
To get this done right will be money well spent.
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:03 PM   #11
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The pic showes green and white. I do not believe either one is paste. The green is most likely the original paint colorI have seen this many , many times.
Well... son of a b----so now my next question... how do I remove paint from a plaster wall?

Is skim coating still my best/only shot, or could I possibly make this easier on myself some how? The depth of the "paint" is very slight, only enough to catch your fingernail on... could I potentially just sand this all down a bit and then put a few layers of primer and then a top coat? This house isn't a masterpiece and I'm not a perfectionist, I just want something that looks decent and doesn't have very obvious texture.
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Old 03-10-2012, 06:31 PM   #12
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No need to remove- follow instructions above. If you want to try and smooth it out, might not be that hard- we'll help.
Of course a pro might do it better- but get yourself a gal of Plus 3 and a 12" ,6'and 3" flex mud knives.
After the Gardz has dried put a trouble light on the wall at an angle and you will see exactly what needs what.
Very slightly add a touch of water to the mud pail and mix smooth.
Scoop with the 3 and spread to the edge of the 12, then spread at an angle with some ( not alot) of pressure- youre practicing putting on a smooth coat.
Do that where it is rough.
Let dry - Any deeper parts might need it again.
Then with that light and a flat hand sander and fairly fine grit paper ( 150 is good for a skim of lightweight) sand smooth.
RE prime, either with the Gardz again or any good primer.
Look over for defects, hit those again and repeat-till spot primed-
And just that easy you're ready to finish paint!

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Old 03-10-2012, 06:47 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Brushjockey View Post
If you want to try and smooth it out, might not be that hard- we'll help.
Of course a pro might do it better- but get yourself a gal of Plus 3 and a 12" ,6'and 3" flex mud knives.
Is that a 12" taping knife?

What is a 3" flex mud knife, is just a 3" flexible scraper?

...this is good because I have major water damage to the plaster inside the closet opposite this wall... the finish coat of plaster (about 1/8-1/4" thick) has separated from the rough coat... I've been trying to figure out what I was going to do in there, I had been thinking of just putting up some paintable paneling, but now I might go for trying to skim coat it (since it's inside a closet it just needs to be smooth-ish and paintable. I have another area that is "spongy" (it moves and feel hollow when touched), it feels like the finish coat has separated there too, but just not actually broken up off the wall yet, so learning this skill should hopefully let me fix that area as well.
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Last edited by bubbler; 03-10-2012 at 06:51 PM.
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Old 03-10-2012, 06:51 PM   #14
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Is that a 12" taping knife?

What is a 3" flex mud knife, is just a 3" flexible scraper?
Yes and yes. Known by many names. You won't find a bucket of "mud " either, but that's what guys in the trade call joint compound.
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Old 03-10-2012, 07:22 PM   #15
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Just went into that closet I was talking about to look around... realized that I never put this together, but the paint color in that closet is the exact same color as what I had thought was wallpaper paste in the hallway...

So pretty much confirms the suspicion: I've been scraping the dang PAINT off the wall, not paste!

Since I'm going the skim coat route, do I need to be concerned about 100% removal of the paste, or is it OK for there to be some residue?

Also, if this is original paint from the 50s what do you recommend for flushing the lead out of my system? I've been breathing those chips I've been scraping

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