I can't avoid it any longer, the girls bathroom is especially in need of a little TLC. So I thought I'd take this opportunity to share what I have learned about wallpaper removal while I prep my two bathrooms for painting.
No More Gimmicks
Nothing is more frustrating than spending money believing a product that promises easy and effective result but to no avail. One thing I have learned after trying professional steamers, and myriad of sprays and goo, is that they all have their own unique type of hassle. The reality is that good wallpaper removal can't be guaranteed, the success of removal all depends on the age and type of the wallpaper, and the condition of the wall beneath. No matter what method you use, if something bad is going to happen, none of these methods will prevent it. I figure if you are going to have to pick your poison anyway, and what will be will be, why bother spend the money? Might as well use a free method...
The Free & Simple Method
I use a spray bottle with warm water, and a taping knife as a scraper. Wait, let me show you...
This may seem overly simple, but it turns out that it produces the same good results on easy peel wallpaper, and the same set of frustrations with old wallpaper or badly primed walls. It's all about learning how to tell what you are up against before peeling, or what to do when the going gets tough.
You Never Know What You'll Find
Wallpaper removal is a gamble. You might discover multiple layers, with each layer getting older and harder to remove, or it might turn out to be a breeze! Just know that if you decide to remove your existing wallpaper you may have to deal with more than you bargained for.
The best you can do to "check" is use an exacto knife to score the wallpaper near an out-of-the-way corner, and gently peel back that scored segment. If the wall is primed and painted underneath you are likely to have a quick and easy removal. If there is a second layer of old wallpaper without a plasticy substance, or the wall is not painted, you might risk pulling off pieces of drywall, or bubbling of the wall surface.
If you hate your wallpaper, but don't want the hassle of removing it, you do have options...
Paint Over It: If the seams are tight well done seams, and there is no bubbling of the paper, you can use an oil-based primer to paint over your wallpaper. Be sure to use a brand that is not too "wet" (or at least leave the primer open for a few days to thicken up) otherwise you might create bubbles or unwanted texture that will show up when your top coat dries.
Wide Seam Tip: If your seams are a little further apart than you like, and you are good at mudding, you can fill in gaps in seams with just the tiniest bit of plaster.
Paper Over It: I hate the idea of making more layers of wallpaper, but there are times when it is merited. In these cases be sure place your seams fairly close to where the original seams are. Unless the old wallpaper seams are flawless, they can show through the second layer of wallpaper once the glue dries...better safe than sorry.
Solving Paper Removal Problems
Peeling Dry Wall: I hope your mudding is good. *grin* There isn't much that can be done besides mudding over the peeled areas...short of papering over your mishap.
Bubbling Paint: Perhaps the dry wall isn't peeling, but it seems as if paint is bubbling and peeling with each piece of paper you pull off the wall. It may be a flat paint, or it may be that it isn't painted at all. Either way, allow it to dry thoroughly, then use dry wall sandpaper to sand the peeled edges. In some cases that will take care of it, in others you may have to use a light coat of plaster and mud around the edges to hide any irregularities.
How to Remove Paper Around Impediments: Bathrooms particularly can be difficult to remove wallpaper from because of all the impediments; the toilet gets in the way, the light fixture, the vanity, towel bars, etc. Rather than removing every fixture, lightly score around these items using an exacto knife before peeling back the wallpaper around it.
Good luck with your wallpaper removal! I hope your experience is smoother going than mine! *wink*