The removal of wallpaper is quite an undertaking.
The worst part about it is that the stuff just seems to be everywhere.
If you purchased a house that was remodeled when the wallpaper was popular, there is probably some in almost every room in your house.
In order to change the walls, all of the wallpaper and the wallpaper glue must be removed.
Knowing that all of your wallpaper glue has been fully removed from the wall is essential to be able to move on with your project.
There are a few simple tricks that you can use to make sure that the glue has been removed from the walls.
How to Tell If Wallpaper Glue Is Removed
1. Spray and Check
The first and most common way to tell if wallpaper glue is removed is to use the spray and check method.
For this process, you are going to need a small spray bottle filled with water.
The wall should be dry, and you should be completed with the wallpaper removal you think you need to do.
The next step is to take the water and spray the wall.
When you spray the wall, you will notice that the water will bead up along the walls.
The spraying simply needs to be a light mist, so you do not need to soak it.
Then, once the water spray is on the wall, you can take your hand and run it down the wall.
When you do this, your hand will either slide right down and have some water on it, or it will feel very sticky.
The sticky, slimy feeling is going to be the leftover glue on the wall.
When you have removed all glue, the feeling you get from the wall is a smoother, almost chalky type feeling.
If you feel this sticky glue-type substance on your fingers, you have some more scraping to do before you are finished.
Grab your putty knife and see if you can find the areas where the glue remains.
2. Visible Glue
The next step takes a bit of light and a little knowledge about the wallpaper and home improvement industry.
If you look closely at a wall that the paper was just removed from, you can see if there is still glue on the wall.
You will need very good lighting and a general understanding of what a sheetrock or plaster wall looks like.
You will have to inspect the wall across all areas, and you should be able to see the glue if it is there.
We recommend doing the spray and check in any areas that are you are not entirely certain about.
However, the glue should be rather easy to see.
Most of the time, if you are dealing with wallpaper that has been up for a number of years, the glue will be kind of yellow in color.
The yellowing happens naturally as the glue gets older.
This color will transfer to the walls, but it will not remain.
You should be able to remove the glue, and the discoloration will disappear as well.
Of course, walls are still going to need to be painted after the wallpaper glue is removed.
3. Putty Knife to the Wall
If you have done our spray and check method and are still not sure if the glue is gone, it is worth checking with the putty knife.
Essentially, you are going to spray the wall as you did for the spray and check test, but this time you don’t need to spread your hand on the wall.
Instead, you take the putty knife and skim it along the wall.
When you do this with the knife, you should see some glue starting to pile up at the end of the knife.
The glue piling up at the end of the putty knife means that you still have some more work to do.
If you notice that the end of the putty knife is completely clean, chances are you got all of the glue off.
Remember that you will want to be careful how you scrape the putty knife across the wall.
If the knife digs in at all, it is going to end up making a hole in the wall and causing some issues for you in the long term.
4. Check the Back of the Paper
Last but not least, it is a good idea to check the back of the paper that you removed.
One problem that many people run into when they are working on a wallpaper removal project is that they think that all the glue has been removed quickly and easily.
You see, sometimes wallpaper will almost fall off the wall.
You will get one corner up, and then everything just seems to come along with it.
This can feel like a great thing, but this does not necessarily mean that the glue has come with the paper.
In fact, most of the time, the glue is not on the paper, but it has remained on the wall.
We have seen people who have removed all the paper from their walls in a matter of minutes and assumed their job was finished.
When they look at the paper, they realize it is completely clean and smooth on the back.
This indicates that the paper’s glue is still stuck to the wall and will need to be removed.
You should be forewarned that, if you are going to take on a project like this, chances are you will be doing some glue removal in addition to wallpaper removal.
Why Is It Important to Remove All Wallpaper Glue?
All of this work of removing wallpaper glue may not seem like it is worth it.
We can certainly understand that the process seems excessive.
However, there is a major reason behind it.
The wallpaper glue needs to be removed because, otherwise, the paint is not going to stick to the walls.
When you go to paint the walls, you will notice that the paint does not stick.
This issue with the paint not sticking may not happen right away.
It can take a few years for it to show up.
This, of course, means that you are setting yourself up for another project just a few short years away.
When you paint directly over the glue, you will have two main issues.
The first is that the surface of the wall is rarely going to be even.
Therefore, when the project is complete, you will actually be able to see where all of the leftover glue was on the wall.
This look will be very bad, and it will not have the professional finish that a home should have.
Another problem is that the glue that was used on the wall is probably water-based.
If you are planning to paint over it with water-based paint, the issues start to come up with the paint not sticking.
The water in the glue will absorb the water in the paint, and then the paint will start to crackle and chip.
The worst part about this is that it never happens uniformly.
Therefore, the paint will be breaking off in some areas but not others.
Truthfully, this leaves a larger mess than you had the first time around.
Getting all of the paint off and the wall smooth again so that you can remove glue properly is a major project.
The most important thing to do is to make sure that all of the glue is off before you start to paint.
Sometimes projects like wallpaper removal can take so long that you are just ready to move to the next step.
That is certainly understandable, but it is simply not worth the price you pay for having to completely re-do any of this work.
How to Remove Wallpaper Glue
There is lots of information out there about how to remove wallpaper.
Some of the methods are very effective, and they will do wonders to remove the wallpaper from your wall.
However, very few of these guides focus specifically on removing the wallpaper glue.
Since this will be the most critical part of the process for you, we will start with the wallpaper glue removal.
At this point, you will have removed all of the paper from your walls, and you will be stuck with wallpaper glue covering certain areas of the wall.
These are the best steps to remove it quickly and get ready for painting.
Step 1: Prepare Supplies
This process is messy.
The wallpaper glue is going to get everywhere, and when it comes off the wall, it is still sticky.
This means that, if you do not protect the flooring under the area you are working, you will have glue covering your flooring as well.
The first step in the process is to make sure you get a drop cloth to cover the area under your workspace securely.
Remember that you are going to be running water down the wall in certain areas.
You will not want this glue-soaked water to absorb into any carpeting or to sit on your wood floors for too long.
Simply place drop cloths and towels at the bottom of the wall, and you will have much better luck.
Next, you are going to want to make sure you have a bucket or trash bag to place the glue clumps in.
You will also need another bucket with water in it and a sponge.
This will need to be emptied and cleaned out quite often, so it can be a good idea to choose something that is a bit smaller and easier to work with.
Last, it’s essential to have both a spray bottle and a spackle knife-type scraper.
Although the larger scrapers will cover a big area all at once, we tend to find the smaller ones easier to work with.
You will be able to scrape around moldings and doorways without having much trouble.
Step 2: Spray Limited Area
It is best to do this process by working in grids.
Find a small section of your wall approximately four feet by four feet in space.
Spray this area of the wall with water.
Some people are going to use a wallpaper glue remover spray, and others will make their own with vinegar and baking soda.
You can come up with a solution that works well for you.
Over time, you will realize that the process is relatively the same regardless of what you use.
The wallpaper glue needs to get wet to be peeled off the wall.
If you need to use a remover, that is completely fine, but using water will save you a bit of money.
We always choose a section on the top portion of the wall first.
When you spray the wall, water will run down, and potentially, some glue will run down as well.
If you start on the bottom of the wall and get the bottom all cleaned up, by the time you do the top, it will ruin the work you have done on the bottom.
Instead, start at the top, and you will find that your work on the bottom portion of the wall will be much easier.
Step 3: Scrape and Sponge
Once the wall is wet, you can start removing the glue.
The best method is to carefully run your scraper along the glue trying to get it to clump up in areas.
Then you will take a wet sponge and wipe the wall behind it.
When the glue clumps up at the end of your spackle knife, be sure to dispose of the glue in your bag or trash.
This wet, sticky substance is difficult to work with, and it is going to get everywhere.
Work in a controlled manner so that you know what you have scraped and what still needs to be scraped.
If you do this haphazardly, you may find that you have left large glue sections on throughout the entire wall.
As you work with the knife, continually wipe down behind with the sponge.
If you find that you have some stubborn spots, simply respray them with a bit of water.
Step 4: Dry
When you think you have removed all of the glue, take some towels to the wall to aid in the drying process.
You should be able to see if the glue is still on the wall, and when you are drying, you should not be removing any sticky glue with the towel.
Step 5: Check and Repeat
Once the wall has had some time to dry, we recommend doing our spot test by spraying and testing a small area.
Just to be sure that you got everything off, do a light spray and then test with your hand to see if the wall still feels sticky.
If you were diligent in completing this process, you should not have any issues with glue residue.
Make sure you plan this process out and do it with the appropriate equipment.
If you do, your walls will be ready for paint in no time.