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Why you need to wash wallpaper glue from your walls

Written by David | September 11, 2020

You have wallpaper on your walls. You have decided to remove the wallpaper. Now you must wash the wallpaper adhesive from the walls.

This may sound like a simple task and thought process. I do not mean to sound harsh, but this topic is lost on many people. The importance of removing the old wallpaper past cannot be stressed enough. Now you ask the question- Why do I need to wash wallpaper glue from my walls? So, let’s get to it…

How do you remove wallpaper glue from a wall?

We should start with how it’s done. There are many methods, and all work to various degrees

  • You can simply use hot water and a sponge
  • Some people use fabric softener (I will say, DON’T. Have you ever tried to wash fabric softener from a surface? Try it. You will think twice about this method as it will leave residue on your wall)
  • Steamers- they work great!!
  • Dif- there is a gel and concentrate version- they work very well, also

We have done a few videos on wallpaper removal, which you can see here:

Why you need to remove all of the adhesive from wallpaper.

When you remove the wallpaper from the walls, there is always sticky residue. The walls are usually rough. There are also places where a heavy wallpaper adhesive residue remains on the wall.

If you plan on painting your walls, ALL of the wallpaper adhesive and its residue must be removed from the wall before you paint. Failure to remove the wallpaper adhesive will result in the paint :

  • Not sticking to the wall
  • Make your walls look like crackle finish

However, if you are planning on putting up new wallpaper, you have a whole new reason—product failure.

Now we get into the real technical… why you must remove old wallpaper adhesive.

When the wallpaper adhesive remains on the wall, any primer you apply cannot adhere to the wall- it will adhere to the old wallpaper paste! You may be saying, “So what!” So here we go…

  • As the wallpaper primer is applied to the wall with old glue, the old glue is re-wetted.
  • The re-wetted old glue now has a primer and, to some extent, will absorb the primer.
  • Since the glue has been primed, the primer cannot penetrate, bond, or stick to the wall surface- it can’t- it is stuck to the old glue!
  • You apply new wallpaper with new adhesive to the walls
  • When the new wallpaper is applied, the wet adhesive will re-wet the old adhesive and then adhere to the old adhesive. Do you see where this is going?
  • All the new wallpaper has been applied to glue- not the wall. As the adhesive dries, it will crack, peel, and start to pull away from the wall- causing the wallpaper to bubble, peel, curl, or worse- fall off the wall.
  • In places where the wallpaper has not fallen off the wall, you will see a very rough surface. The wallpaper will look like a concrete or blacktop surface instead of a smooth wall.

Take a look at some problem walls we have had to fix!

Here are some pictures of an installation failure because of not removing wallpaper adhesive and priming over old wallpaper glue

improper work for removing wallpaper from walls

Walls coming apart from improper prep work

Why you need to wash wallpaper glue from your walls

Wallpaper primer sticking to old glue not the wall

wallpaper peeling from wall

Here is wallpaper that is peeling from the wall because it has nothing to stick to because of improper wall prep

In doing this, you will void all warranties the wallpaper manufacturer, the wallpaper adhesive manufacturer, and the wallpaper primer manufacturer had. You can read some information about this problem from one of the leading wallpaper primer manufacturers here.

Keys to successful wallpaper installation

To make sure you have no failure in your wallpaper installations, make sure you do the following:

  • Read the instructions on the primer, adhesive, and wallpaper you are using
  • Follow those instructions
  • Make sure the walls are clean and smooth
  • Use the right primer for the walls
  • Use the proper adhesive
  • Have the right tools to smooth the wallpaper and clean all excess adhesive from the wallpaper and between the wallpaper and the wall
  • Use sharp razor blades!

How can we help you with your wallpaper installation?

We are here to help, let us know if you have questions, or better yet give us call and let us know about your upcoming wallpaper project! We love to find the best way to help you love the space you’re in.

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