The House Detective by Barry Stone, Certified Home Inspector
Dear Barry: Our home has had the same wallpaper for 24 years, and some of the edges are beginning to peel. Unfortunately, the person who installed it glued the paper to the drywall without applying wallpaper sizing first. This means that stripping the paper will probably damage the surface of the drywall. Therefore, I have two choices: I can glue down the peeling edges and apply paint or wallpaper over the old paper, or I can try to strip the old paper but will probably end up with many damaged surfaces. I’m an experienced do-it-yourselfer but have just turned 77 and am not looking for major projects. Given the choices, what do you recommend? Hal
Dear Hal: When you say the wallpaper was installed without sizing, I assume you also mean that the drywall was not primed or painted. If paint or primer was used, stripping can probably be done without damaging the drywall surfaces. In that case, the stripping project could proceed normally, notwithstanding the usual tedium of wallpaper removal.
On the other hand, for someone who is “not looking for major projects,” there is a simpler approach. The old wallpaper lasted for 24 years, and you are now 77 years old. If you don’t mind having a second layer of wallpaper for the next 24 years, that will take you to age 101. At that point, you probably won’t care about wallpaper, sizing, or stripper. Option #2, therefore, could be summarized as “Why Worry?” Glue the peeled edges, slap on another layer of wallpaper, and relax with a good book.