Have you ever tried to lay wall paper yourself? I have and it can be a real pain in the rear end if you have to remove old wall paper first! The laying of the new wall paper is effortless compared to removing the underlying layer. It has been debated; to put wall paper on top of wall paper or to strip off the old wall paper first, this is assuming that you have wall paper on the wall to begin with. If not then that naturally simplifies the job.
Let’s start from the beginning. I find it easier and a much more professional looking job if you remove the wall paper that is there to begin with. So what is the best and easiest way to remove wall paper? To do this you can consider using one of two methods. I have used both and it is a matter of preference.
As I have just mentioned, it is not advisable to lay wall paper over existing wall paper. Why you may ask? The answer to that question is that the wet paste from the new layer is likely to soften the older layer making the original layer expand and separate from the wall. This will result in air bubbles and lumps under the new layer, causing it to look unprofessional and later on, peeling away. With this in mind, be sure that you strip off the original layer before redecorating!
To begin this process wet the wall where you are removing the paper from. I have found it easy to use a nice sized spray bottle filled with water. It is faster then washing the wall down by hand and a lot less messy as well. Be sure to adjust the nozzle of the spray bottle to spray a mist instead of a stream, and it should spray just the right amount and not cause a flood on the floor below.
Once you have an evenly misted wall, take a sponge very damp with very warm water and a small squirt of dish washing liquid (I like to use Dawn!) and a very small dab of wall paper paste and then with it, go over the misted area on the wall. This will enable the old wall paper to soak up the water. Let it sit there to absorb up the water for several minutes before proceeding. I usually wait about 5 to 7 minutes. Set you kitchen timer if it helps. Please note that if the old wall paper is painted over or the washable kind then you will first need to use a bit of sand paper to sand the surface in order to make it course enough to absorb any moisture.
Now take a wide stripping knife in order to lift the paper off of the wall. Do this by sliding the flat end of the scraper underneath a seam. pushing it through the paper as far as you can go, being ever so careful not to dig into the wall itself. If the paper is not coming loose then it may be necessary for you to add more water onto the paper to soak a bit longer.
If you are unfortunate enough to have more than one layer of paper already on the wall, then this is quite a time consuming hassle indeed! In which case, you will find it a lot simpler to use a steamer made for wall paper removal instead, as it may be less work in the long run. These tools can be a little bit costly, however it is possible to rent one from a local hardware shop. They are make to give out steam as they glide over your wall. Keep in mind, if you can get by without the steam stripper it is better for the structure of your wall, as it can possibly damage it by softening the plaster. I prefer to use the first method described. Good luck and remember, a little extra time and care can save you a lot of time and money later!