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PRS: Bathroom makeover, part 2

The proper way to prepare a wall for wallpaper (paper, vinyl, bamboo weave, etc.) is to first apply a coat of wallpaper sizing. This serves two purposes. First, it seals the drywall so that the paper will adhere properly. The second purpose is to make the paper easier to remove at a later date.

So, hopefully your walls were properly prepared. Also, if the paper is of the "strippable" variety, your job will be considerably easier. First, see if it will just strip off by hand. If so, more the better!

But if not, read on...

The next step is to loosen the glue. The best way of doing this is to first moisten the surface with a pump-up sprayer filled with warm water. Next, use a sponge and a bucket of warm water to wipe it down, pull off some paper, and then move on to the next section.

Do you still have a stubborn customer? Try this recipe:
  • 3 gallons of hot water
  • 1/4 cup of liquid fabric softener
  • 2 tablespoons of baking soda
  • 1 bottle of wallpaper remover containing reactive enzymes

Next, skim the wall

Depending on how hard it was to get the paper off, chances are that you've got some damaged drywall on your hands. To bring it back into line, you'll need to skim it with drywall compound. In the best of circumstances, you can simply use a wide drywall floating knife.

But what if the damage is more severe? I've worked on walls where chunks of drywall have been pulled off with the paper. In this case, you'll need to use drywall tape as well. Do yourself a favor and use the fiberglass mesh type with adhesive on the back.

Now finish the job

Once the walls are floated to your satisfaction, sand them with drywall sanding screens on a sanding pole, and apply the new finish. If the plan is new wallpaper, just prime and size the walls properly and then hang the new paper.

But what if you want paint? The best approach is to apply texture first. Slick walls present their own class of problems. Every imperfection in the walls will scream out, "Look at me!" Also, slick, smooth walls offer too much of a clinical feel.

After texturing, apply a coat of high-quality latex primer and finish off with the paint of your choice. With a good quality paint such as Behr or Glidden, you'll probably be able to get away with one coat of paint with a few areas to come back to and touch-up.

This part of the remodel should be able to be completed over the course of a weekend and perhaps a night or two after work.

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