Ok, I have to get it out in the open: wallpaper is evil. People who put wallpaper in their house are just plain selfish ;-) No, I'm not talking about desktop wallpaper; I'm talking about the real stuff.
Let's face it, if you put wallpaper up, in 10-15 or so years, it is going to be out of style and really nasty to look at. You may not be living in the house at that time, but unless you're on the Gaza strip or the future site of a freeway, someone is. If you had just used paint, someone could simply repaint. At most they might need to patch some defects and prime before painting.
We bought our house in October 2001. It was built in 1979 and has been papered at least twice in the 22 years between then and when we bought the place. The wallpaper that was up in 2001 was nasty enough, but having seen the as-delivered wallpaper hidden under some trim, all I can say is "YUCK!"
Based on a few weeks of experience tearing down wallpaper and then patching and priming the walls in my own house, here are some helpful tips
What Not to Do When Hanging Wallpaper
- Don't pick paper thin wallpaper that is going to come off in half-dollar-sized slivers
- Don't apply the wallpaper directly over drywall or drywall patches (yay! I love reactivating the patching compound when removing wallpaper)
- Don't use wallpaper to cover up lots of wall defects like oversized switch and outlet cutouts, bad patches, nail holes, large punch holes etc.
- Don't prime with an ultra-flat primer (see note about Kilz below)
- Don't put one layer of wallpaper over another
Suggestions on What You Should Do
- Do buy "peelable" wallpaper
- Do prime with a somewhat glossy primer like Kilz Premium (in the gold and white container). The slightly glossy surface makes it a lot easier to remove the paper.
- Do properly prepare the walls with a Level-4 paint-grade drywall job, not a barely-adequate-for-wallpapering drywall taping job. Believe it or not, the patching and poor taping often shows through the wallpaper anyway, so you're not doing yourself a favor by skimping here anyway. If you're not sure, pick up the Drywall book at Home Depot, Lowes, or Borders and see what I'm talking about.
- Do completely strip off all old wallpaper.
A hefty dent into a 5 gallon bucket of multi-purpose drywall compound, and 5 gallons of Kilz later, I'll never put up so much as a border after taking down the stuff here. Luckily, my wife agrees :-)
Update 2005-08-28: You can see some photos in my appraisal blog.