Is There Any Good News About Wallpaper?
Wallpaper that is properly applied should easily last 15 years. For several reasons this may not be good news.
It could be that the ‘bunnies and flowers’ that were so wonderful for your toddler just isn’t great for your teen. Or even worse, you may be stuck with someone else’s idea of ‘cool’ from 1979.
How bad the job of removing the wallpaper will be depends on how good of a job the hanger did way back when. If they used a good wallpaper primer it will have sealed the wall beneath the paper, and it should come off pretty easily. If not the wallpaper paste may have soaked into the wall board, and removal will be nothing but torture.
The condition of the wall under the paper will need to be considered as well. If you have an older home you may have plaster walls. These are much more durable than new drywall substrates that are paper covered. Drywall is more likely to be damaged by wallpaper removal.
Begin the removal process by giving the paper a thorough soaking. Plain warm water works OK for this. Fabric softener added to the water helps; using a commercial paper-removing chemical is your choice, but fabric softener or even vinegar added to the water will work.
Scoring or perforating the paper will allow the solution to get to the adhesive under the paper. This step is even more necessary if the paper is vinyl coated. Use a paint roller or a garden sprayer to soak the paper; a sponge will work in the corners. It is best to only wet out a 4-5 foot area of wall at a time.
As the water solution begins to loosen the paste, carefully begin to peel the paper from the wall. Hopefully there will be little need to scrape in order to peel, but there are no promises! There will be some residual adhesive and perhaps some scraps of paper left on the walls, but this can be removed with a little scrubbing using detergent or the fabric softener solution.
There is always the option of just painting over the wallpaper, but there are several reasons why this is not a good idea. The wallpaper is often textured, and this pattern will show through the paint. If the paper is vinyl covered, the paint may not even stick to it. There is also a good possibility that the solvent in the paint will dissolve the wallpaper adhesive, and your nicely painted paper will just come off the wall!