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Historic Preservation - Technical Procedures
Removing Wall Covering To Restore Plaster Walls
Internet - Stripping Wallpaper
Removing Wall Covering To Restore Plaster Walls
REMOVING WALL COVERING TO RESTORE PLASTER WALLS
A. This procedure includes guidance on removing wall
covering from plaster walls to restore the original
plaster finish. A process of dry stripping or use of a
commercial wallpaper stripper and scraper is outlined
B. Wall covering is sometimes inappropriately applied over
historic wall finishes when spaces are renovated or
modernized in order to minimize maintenance. Depending
on the function and location of the space, these
coverings are often inappropriate and poorly maintained,
which ultimately detracts from the character of these
areas. Therefore, when feasible in areas of
significance, removal of the wall covering and
restoration of the plaster walls is recommended.
C. See 01100-07-S for general project guidelines to be
reviewed along with this procedure. These guidelines
cover the following sections:
1. Safety Precautions
2. Historic Structures Precautions
4. Quality Assurance
5. Delivery, Storage and Handling
6. Project/Site Conditions
7. Sequencing and Scheduling
8. General Protection (Surface and Surrounding)
These guidelines should be reviewed prior to performing
this procedure and should be followed, when applicable,
along with recommendations from the Regional Historic
Preservation Officer (RHPO).
A. William Zinsser & Co., Inc.
173 Belmont Drive
Somerset, NJ 08875
A. Household vinegar
B. Wallpaper stripper such as "DIF" (William Zinsser & Co.
Inc.), or approved equal.
1. For 22 oz. bottle of "DIF", mix contents with 2
gallons hot tap water in ordinary garden sprayer or
2. For gallon size bottle of "DIF", mix 3 cups per 2
gallons of hot tap water in ordinary garden sprayer
C. Clean, potable water
D. Clean, soft cotton cloths
E. Sandpaper (20 grit)
A. Wall covering scoring tool such as "PaperTiger" (William
Zinsser & Co., Inc.), or approved equal.
B. Wallpaper scraper or putty knife (4"-5" wide is
C. Garden Sprayer
E. Wallpaper steamer - available at local tool rental, paint
or wallpaper stores.
A. If possible, try to determine the type of wallpaper being
removed. It may help in deciding what technique to use.
In general, however, a standard process of removal is
outlined below in Section 3.03.
1. For Paper-backed Vinyls, Foils or Mylars:
Application of stripper (as described below) should
remove the top surface of these types of papers,
leaving the paper backing on the wall, which can
probably be removed with a second application of
2. To test for waterproof wall coverings such as
coated (washable or scrubbable) wallpaper, painted
wallpaper, or papers that can't easily be pulled
off, spray the surface with water; if spray beads
up and runs down the wall, wall covering is
3. Fabric-backed vinyls or other strippable wall
coverings can usually be easily pulled off the
wall, if it has been properly sealed. If not,
follow stripping procedures as outlined below.
A. Protection: Cover floor with newspapers or dropcloths.
Protect carpeted areas with waterproof drop cloths.
3.03 ERECTION, INSTALLATION, APPLICATION
NOTE: USE THE GENTLEST MEANS POSSIBLE WHEN REMOVING WALL
COVERINGS FROM HISTORIC FINISHES TO AVOID DAMAGING SIGNIFICANT
MATERIALS. CONSULT WITH RHPO TO DETERMINE THE BEST MEANS OF
A. Dry strip as much of the paper as possible. Start at a
top corner and work down along the vertical seams while
peeling back the paper.
B. Lightly score remaining paper using 20-grit sandpaper, or
use a perforating/scoring tool.
C. Apply a 50/50 solution of vinegar and hot water using a
hand-held spray bottle and scrub the surface with a 3M
D. If wallpaper still remains, apply an enzyme wallpaper
1. Apply wallpaper stripper using a garden sprayer if
working in a controlled environment, or apply
stripper using a hand-held sprayer or sponge.
2. Saturate wall with solution, starting at the top
and working down to the floor.
3. Allow solution to sit a minimum of 15 minutes.
4. Reapply solution, and allow to sit again for a
minimum of 15 minutes.
5. Strip paper working in a small area at a time. Wet
surface again and peel off paper using a wallpaper
scraper or putty knife.
6. Apply remaining solution to remove traces of paste
left on the walls.
E. If other procedures are not effective, try steaming the
walls to remove the paper. Also, for small stubborn
areas where paper remains, try using "Goof-off"
(available in most hardware stores). Follow
F. Once the paper has been successfully removed, remove
residual paste by scrubbing the surface with a blue 3M
scrubbing pad, water and a sponge.
G. Rinse walls thoroughly with clean clear water and allow
to dry at least 24 to 48 hours.
H. Clean plaster wall surfaces and remove loose paint. See
09200-08-R and 09900-08-S for guidance.
I. Make plaster repairs as required and repaint. See 09200-
01-S, 09200-03-R, 09210-02-R, 09210-03-R, 09210-04-R, and
09900-07-S for guidance.
END OF SECTION