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A steam stripper is the most efficient way of removing old wall coverings. However, you can just use a bucket of warm water and a sponge to soak the paper before scraping it off.
Take great care when using a steam stripper as you are effectively working with boiling water and steam. You must wear gloves and goggles, and follow the manufacturer's guidelines for use precisely.
Paint requires stripping when there are multiple layers of old paint that are both uneven and loosely adhered to the wood and/or previous paint layers below.Exterior window sills, for example, are areas that are common to strip before repainting.
Hot air guns are an alternative to chemicals for stripping paint from woodwork. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines precisely and do not combine the use of a hot air gun with chemical strippers.
Most chemical strippers are now more user-friendly than they used to be, as they are water-based. However, it is still necessary to only work in well ventilated areas, and use sufficient dust sheets to protect other surfaces. Always wear gloves and follow the manufacturer's guidelines. After chemical stripping surfaces must be washed down very carefully to neutralise the surface. The surface must then dry thoroughly before any paint can be applied.
It is always best to strip the existing wallpaper before repapering as it is often difficult to guarantee that the old wallpaper surface is sufficiently sound to accept a new layer.
The time required to hold a steam stripper plate on the wall surface in order to remove the wallpaper will vary considerably from surface to surface. It is therefore important to experiment early in the task to see if a few seconds or much longer is required to loosen the paper. Too short a time and the paper will remain stuck. Too long a time and you can risk damaging the plaster, which will lead to more preparation work before redecorating.
Do not allow a steam stripper to boil dry. Keep it topped up as directed, again taking all necessary precautions.
Use plenty of dust sheets when stripping wallpaper as it can be a messy job. Also remove paper from the dust sheets regularly as once the soaked paper dries it often sticks to the sheets making it crusty and difficult to remove later.
Once a wall is stripped of paper, ideally wash down the wall surface to remove any old paste residues. This is essential if you are now planning to paint rather than repaper the wall.
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