Removing wallpaper paste
Here’s a little trick I stumbled upon that is too sweet to keep to myself. After removing some heavy-duty wallpaper, which came away from the wall easily without the use of a steamer, I was left with a heavy residue of dried glue. It gave the wall a rough texture unsuitable for painting. Rather than try to remove the glue, I decided to smooth the wall with a thin layer of joint compound. After a few minutes of skimming on the compound, I noticed that some areas were bubbling up. When I tried to touch up the spots, I realized the glue had softened. I decided to try to scrape the compound off one area, and to my delight, the compound came off easily along with all of the glue, leaving a clean, smooth surface. Evidently the moisture in the compound softens the glue, while providing a medium to carry the glue off the wall.
I found I could cover about 100 sq. ft. of wall with compound before going back to remove it. This allowed the glue to loosen for about 10 to 15 minutes, which seems ideal. If compound sits too long and won’t come off completely, simply wipe it with a wet sponge and let it sit a few more minutes.
I cleaned up with a sponge-washing of trisodium phosphate followed by a rinse of clear water. Wall dried, I applied the finish coat of paint over an alkyd base primer.
Incidently, the last time I used this technique, I used up three buckets of joint compound that had been frozen, and consequently rendered useless for drywall work.
Paul Hirsch, Stamford, CT