Asked on Jan 12, 2014

Wallpaper glue backing question

Shannon Nallie
by Shannon Nallie
I am SLOWLY removing the wallpaper from my 70's built home. I have removed the top layer and I'm now tackling the glue backing. I'm hoping to skip the time-consuming process of removing the glue paper. My question there a bonding primer that I can use over this glue paper that will allow me to use a texture paint? I'm working on a low budget...I do not know how to texture and that's the reason I'm looking to use texture paint.
Thank you in advance for your responses.
  39 answers
  • Moxie Moxie on Jan 12, 2014
    In my experience...the paper/glue from the wall covering needs to come off to. Take a sponge and dampen the paper..if you wait a few min. it comes off pretty easy. Now that the protective paper is gone, the backing that remains will absorb paint and bubble and your paint will only stick as soundly as what you apply it to. I know it is so not any fun...I just took off about 800 sf of get this,,,3 layers of wall covering my house..ugh. Good luck with your project!
  • Just as Moxie stated: you have to remove the glue and clean the walls. Your house will smell like a pickle factory but you can remove the glue by soaking the glue and paper with white vinegar in a spray bottle. Alternate with hot water in another spray bottle (soaking the paper with hot water works great for removing the wall paper too). good luck
    • Rac28924677 Rac28924677 on Aug 08, 2017

      My hallway smells I'm glad that's normal. It's an ongoing project so Is it safe for my toddler to be around the smell?

  • Becky Becky on Jan 12, 2014
    I have stripped acres of wallpaper and I always use very cheap fabric softener in a spray bottle use 2 parts softener to 1 part h2o. Spray and let sit for about 15-20 minutes then use a sponge to wipe away your troubles LOL! Good luck!
  • Shari Shari on Jan 12, 2014
    No, no, no. Pleeeeeeease don't try to take a short cut and leave that paper backing up there. You will forever regret it. If you had not pulled off the top layer you probably could have painted over it if it was stuck on really, REALLY good. It's not the ideal thing to do but it can be done. However, now that you have started, you are committed to finish the removal process. Another way to get the backing off is to mix liquid fabric softener in a spray bottle with very hot tap water. Saturate the paper backing with the softener/water solution and let it sit for a few minutes. Then carefully scrape the paper off with a wide putty knife, keeping the paper wet at all times. Unlike vinegar, the fabric softener will make your house smell amazing. Depending on the wallpaper, sometimes these DIY formulas or even commercially bought solutions for removing wallpaper don't always work so well. In that case, you might want to check into borrowing, renting or buying a wallpaper steamer. A basic model is somewhere around $50 at Lowes/Home Depot. I know you said you are working on a small budget but if getting the paper off with other methods isn't working, buying a steamer could save your sanity and be money well spent, particularly if you have a lot of paper to remove. Good luck. It's certainly not a fun job but there is a great deal of satisfaction when you finally scrape off that last piece!
  • Kimberly Kimberly on Jan 12, 2014
    I took a bucket of warm water and a few old rags. Soaked them and rolled them down the walls. I also used a putty scraper to remove the old. Took me 30 min to do my entire dining room. Still have to wash the walls to remove the residue. It'll be worth it, just stick with it.
  • Lynda Rohr Lynda Rohr on Jan 12, 2014
    I user to own a wallpaper store.... Removal for clients was a issue.... with a 1 gallon garden sprayer use, about as 1/2 -1/2 solution of water and Downey softener... spray your section, then take a wide putty knife lay it flat on the wall and scrape. This process will not work on interior stucco. Another way is warm water in a bucket, put a painter roller in the water remove shake, off roll. Put old sheets down at the baseboard in.either process
  • Lynne Griffin Lynne Griffin on Jan 13, 2014
    If you don't remove the backing and glue (ALL OF THE GLUE), the paint that you put over it will crack in a short period of time. Are you dealing with drywall or plaster? Plaster is a whole lot easier to deal with in my opinion. I've stripped over 30 walls in my 1925 B&B.
    • See 1 previous
    • Betty819 Betty819 on Jan 21, 2014
      @Lynne Griffin What's the name of your B&B? Somewhat familiar with the area. My in-laws are buried in Hummelstown and we visit Mt. Joy, Manheim, E-town, Hershey, Rutherford Hgts. area..scats of cousins and Aunts and Uncles all around there.
  • Doris Kammer Doris Kammer on Jan 13, 2014
    Yes, as with Becky's post, my daughter was doing the same thing and found the fabric softener worked well for her.
  • There is a simple way I have found to deal with this problem. I have done it tons of times over the years remodeling many homes. You need to use the oil based primer "Kilz." (original formula). Using a pole sander and 100 grit paper sand your glued walls down vacuum the moldings off well. The cut in and roll the walls w the Kilz (this has an oder but not harmful if you wear a mask - smell goes away within 24 hrs) roll it on well. Let dry overnight. apply a second coat, let dry over night, then sand with 150 grit via the pole sander. Then repair any major holes or cracks w wall Spackle. Sand areas Spackled and apply a good quality latex wall paint. I guarantee you your walls will look incredible. (The oil primer seals in the glue and any left over wall paper making a solid surface to sand and paint) You must use the oil based primer, not latex for it will not work. This is old school plaster wall prep. Trust me you will be very happy with the results
    • Betty819 Betty819 on Jan 21, 2014
      @Scott Binsack "Gettin er Done at Home" Scott, I can't use Kilz..due to a lung condition. Bathroom has no window in it either but come summertime or early Spring or Fall, I could open the nearby bedroom window. We've used Kilz before and almost ended up in ER..that's how we started using Zinnser primer.. Thanks for the professional advice.
  • Pam Breen Pam Breen on Jan 13, 2014
    We have painted over the wallpaper so many times....we prime with Kilz and then use textured paint...our kitchen was done this way 15 years ago and still looks great...we've done several other rooms and have never had a problem....not sure about it though now that you have exposed the glue...the Kilz may make it work fine...
  • Margie*Lee Margie*Lee on Jan 14, 2014
    I found that a solution of vinegar and water in a spray bottle worked great. I first sprayed an area really well and then used a paint scraper to scrape it off. Worked great for me!
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Jan 14, 2014
    Now that you have the top layer off, wetting this with a warm sponge should loosen it enough to get most of it off. The secret is to be careful not to mess up your sheetrock too much. Texture paint is very easy. It is thick and is applied with a special roller that is plastic that looks like strings have been haphazardly woven around it. The paint is captured inside the crevices and then transferred to the wall. Then take a small stiff paint brush to stipple around the edges and close to moldings (stipple is to dab small amounts straight onto the surface.) Here is a photo of our small half bath. We used beadboard and texture paint because the wall was so bad when the paper came down (4th paper in 40+ years) and I did not want sanding dust! I love this room! Note where we put molding to separate 2 finishes...corner decorative dowels cut down to adjust butt molding right to corner so you do not have to fit corners!
  • Brooke Brooke on Jan 14, 2014
    You can also buy a tool called a paper tiger to roll all over the backing paper,and it will score it to make the fabric water solution penetrate better. I don't think they are expensive .Probably could buy it @ a Lowes or Home Depot.
  • Arlene Buono Arlene Buono on Jan 14, 2014
    Removing the glue isn't bad at all if you use vinegar and warm water. Most people say to let it soak for a while, but mine came off real easy. Good Luck
  • Diane Diane on Jan 14, 2014
    Shannon there is a product that is made to seal wallpaper, peeling paint, etc when you want to paint over it. I have used it in the past and it works extremely well. I have even used it to seal after i skim coated a wall. It is called Gardz Problem Surface Sealer by Zinsser
  • Peggy Peggy on Jan 14, 2014
    I have also used Downey fabric softener and hot water. Worked like a charm!
  • Colleen Colleen on Jan 15, 2014
    When we moved into our current home I striped wallpaper with fabric stoftener and water, had no problem. However I made the mistake of pouring the dirty water down the bathroom sink. This was a big problem, the glue residue clogged the pipe, causing my housband to replace the plumbing under the sink. Next time I do this I'll do this during the summer and pour the dirty solution over newspapers outdoors. Would anyone have a better idea of disposal?
  • Betty819 Betty819 on Jan 15, 2014
    When we purchased the home we currently live in now in 2005, the seller had some cheap flight by night painters come in, rip up old carpet, spray paint or paint all rooms and ceilings white. There had been wallpapering on and evidently they tried to remove the wallpaper and it was so old that it was brittle or not stripable what do those painters do but paint over the wallpaper backing, never wiped down any remaining glue, but paint over it. We've lived here 9 years and i still don't know what or how to tackle the master bathroom that they messed up for us. Maybe you all have some suggestions. I have been wondering about textured paint or just sanding the bathroom walls but you can imagine the mess if we have to sand it all off and maybe that won't even solve our problem. Can't put more wallpaper over it unless we would sand it smooth. I don't want all that sanding dust in my house and all over the furniture or in my lungs..Pulling the old wallboard out and replacing it would be labor intensive plus costly because we will have to hire it done. My husband is no longer able to do any home repairs due to back surgery last year, plus he has had a slight stroke, and has some memory loss problems. We replaced the glass shower doors but need to replace the toilet, vanity and medicaine cabinet and flooring.
  • DoItGreen Home Services DoItGreen Home Services on Jan 16, 2014
    Quickly there are many good ideas here. The best is hot water with Dif solution in a bug tank. If you had clay paste it will take a lot more applications to get the paste off. One way to loose the stubborn paste is a course black barbecue grill cleaner. They will not hurt the wall and will do a wonderful job loosening the paste once you wet it down. Also protect the floors with plastic and a tarp take old newspapers and lay them out along the wall then just roll up the mess when your done dont put the paper down till after you spray the walls. This job is tedious for sure- methodical and patience. Good luck
  • Betty819 Betty819 on Jan 17, 2014
    Oh, I have done lots of wallpaper glue removal and we have always washed it down thoroughly before we painted but those flight by night painters probably were given a time frame to do the job in because the seller was a real estate person. My lungs probably couldn't tolerate bbq grill cleaner but I appreciate your suggestion. There is no window in either bathroom. I open the bedroom window while my cleaning lady is cleaning the shower stall and keep it open for a few hours to get the fumes/odor out.
    • Carol Carol on Jan 21, 2014
      @Betty819 She wasn't suggesting you use BBQ grill spray cleaner. He was suggesting one of the scruffy black BBQ cleaner pads with a handle attached. No fumes, no worries. Good luck with your project. I have a master bedroom and kitchen to strip of wallpaper. Have put it up, with a friends help, but never taken it down. Here goes!!
  • Gail lichtsinn Gail lichtsinn on Jan 17, 2014
    A lot of that old paper was glued with wheat paste..You would be better off renting a steamer for wall paper removal.Wheat paste is really hard to get off..If you cant do that use a paper tiger the hottest water you can stand and downey or any fabric softener..Score it soak it and wait a little while..Takes a lot of patience..Im old school and very familiar with the old wall paper...It is hell to get off so have some patience...
  • In my experience, fabric softerner (even the cheap dollar store brand) mixed with really warm water works great. Saturate the backing with the water solution using a large sponge. Wait about 10 minutes and you will find it peels right off. (Often in huge sheets!) Makes removing both wallpaper and the backing a breeze. Good luck!
  • Betty819 Betty819 on Jan 21, 2014
    We have no idea whether the painters used latex or oil based paint or a primer on the bathroom walls..that was 9 years ago. We have used most of the solutions mentioned when we lived at our former home and in 1999 when we tried to get 4 layers of wallpaper off the in-law's home to put it on the market. Never got all of it off. Rented a commercial steammer in addition to using all the other solutions. That was a tough one..A home improvement guy told us that they just use Kilz or Zinsser over it, let it dry good and give it 2 or 3 coats of paint and it won't show..That worked, we got a contract within 3 weeks. The buyers are still living there and have made several nice improvements on the exterior, they keep the exterior and landscaping looking nice and even the in-laws would be pleased if they were living now and saw it. It's still the best looking house on the street!
  • Betty819 Betty819 on Jan 21, 2014
    Thanks for all your's going to be one of our projects to tackle come Spring or Summer when we can open up the bedroom window for ventilation. I will have a hard time with the odor of vinegar and the fabric softner because of my lungs so it has to be well ventilated.
    • Shari Shari on Jan 21, 2014
      @Betty819 Inasmuch as you seem to have serious health issues, I think if I were you I would completely skip using fabric softener, vinegar or even chemical wallpaper removal products and just use a wallpaper steamer. I just checked the Lowe's website and a basic Wagner steamer runs $55.00 but I'm sure they carry them in the store too, which would save on shipping. Seems to me, $55 is a small price to pay to avoid exposing you to a bunch of chemicals that may further irritate your lung problems. Good luck with your project.
  • Seidman Paperhanging Seidman Paperhanging on Jan 21, 2014
    The easiest way to remove the adhesive is doing it when the walls are still wet. Use a nylon barbecue grill cleaner, a window squeegee then a clean rinse to get rid of it. Paint will flake off where you have adhesive left. If you can't get it all off, or even if you think you have it off, prime the walls with zinsser Guards, it was made to seal in residual adhesive. I've just given you the Kung Fu secret, I hope they don't kill me. LOL
  • Betty819 Betty819 on Jan 22, 2014
    I've written down all of the products's 6 degrees this morning. Not a good day to open up a window for ventilation so this project will be put on hold till Spring. High expected today ..only 16 degrees. Brrr!
  • Carol Oswald Carol Oswald on Feb 05, 2014
    Hey Betty, I found that warm water in a spray bottle was as effective as anything else and I tried EVERYTHING on my wallpaper. I would try the steamer or just a spray bottle. It was a LOT of work and I SWEAR I will never wall paper anything, ever again. :)
  • Seidman Paperhanging Seidman Paperhanging on Feb 05, 2014
    With the correct & primer, the wallpaper & adhesive comes off much easier
  • Betty819 Betty819 on Feb 05, 2014
    Seidman Paperhanging..The painters that the seller hired 9 years ago, evidently tried to remove the old wallpaper and were able to get some off but they were under a time restraint I'm sure so they just painted over what they couldn't get off..I don't know if what they used was just a primer, or latex paint..Have no idea and I'm sure the seller doesn't know. Probably was a flight-by-night crew that could work fast and work cheap..
  • Theresa Halsey Theresa Halsey on Feb 05, 2014
    i used a product called chomp, worked great.
  • Wendy Dean Wendy Dean on Apr 06, 2014
    My husband taught me this trick....SUGAR and warm water.....wet rags in a crock pot of warm water...It keeps the water and sugar warm and is a since to drag the old glued backing off the wall.......
  • Adrianne C Adrianne C on Apr 07, 2014
    I have done a lot of wallpaper and used wheat paste. It comes off easily with a spray bottle of fabric softener and water sprayed on thoroughly and scraped off. Smells nice too.
  • Kathy Rose Kathy Rose on Jan 01, 2015
    I use warmed white vinegar!
  • Karen Karen on Sep 03, 2015
    As a painter/ could use a barrier primer such as Kilz then once dry you can use drywall mud to level out the damaged wall. Once that is the wall again. Then you can paint or finish the wall as planned. Karen
  • Denise Denise on Sep 15, 2015
    Use a spray bottle of equal parts of Downey fabric softener and water. Spray on, let sit to soak paper, then peel off. You probably should remove it before trying your project.
  • Beverly Beverly on Mar 21, 2016
    I tried everything - they put the wallpaper right on the drywall - we borrowed a steamer and that helped but when you scrape it damages the wall. We ended up mudding over the wallpaper and used Primer 123 and then painted. It's an awful job.
  • Diana Deiley Diana Deiley on Jun 16, 2016
    You probably have this project completed by now, but, as a painter I use fabric softener and hot water with patience and some elbow grease. Works every time, is not toxic and smells great. FYI: once completely dry, prime then paint.
  • Sharon Sharon on Aug 08, 2017

    I have made a career of stripping wallpaper and painting as a sideline. I use fabric softner too, but I use a square basin and a big car sponge. Be sure to completely tape off the floor from baseboards down with plastic tarping. And have something to soak up the water. Put it on, wait 20 mins. It will come right off.

    Leaving the paper on could lead to a bubbling wall and a lot more work.

  • Rac28924677 Rac28924677 on Aug 08, 2017

    doing mine now, took the first layer off and just have the backing paper but I noticed it smells a little is it ok for my kids to be around?