QIs it possible to remove wallpaper from drywall? We hate the paper on the walls now. -- Anna
AYes, it is possible to remove wallpaper from walls made of drywall, also called plasterboard, wallboard or Sheetrock. Removal works best if the walls were prepared with a wallpaper primer before the paper was applied.
At least one manufacturer of chemical wallpaper removers, Zinsser (www.zinsser.com), claims that one of its products will remove wallpaper even if it has been glued directly to the drywall facing paper. The product is DIF Gel, which is available at home centers and wallpaper supply stores. The gel can also be used to remove adhesive residue from walls to prepare them for painting or new wallpaper.
Before spending money on removal supplies and tools, see if you are lucky enough to have strippable wallpaper. Loosen the corner of a panel of wallpaper with a razor blade or sharp knife and pull gently in a diagonal direction. The wallpaper will sometimes come off in large pieces without damaging the underlying surface.
If this doesn't work, get some DIF Gel and a wallpaper scraping tool. Follow the directions on the container, and you should be able to remove that ugly wallpaper.
How can Formica be removed from the top of a kitchen cabinet? -- E. Weaver
I don't know of any practical way to remove Formica or other plastic laminates from a counter or cabinet surface. The laminate is bonded in place with contact cement. Attempting to remove it is likely to ruin the underlying surface.
It is possible to apply new laminate, but it is tricky. I don't recommend it for casual do-it-yourselfers. The old laminate is scuffed up with sandpaper, and the new laminate is cut slightly oversized. The mating surfaces are coated with contact cement (use a nonflammable cement if you try this) and the cement on both surfaces is allowed to dry. The new laminate is then carefully applied over the old. Once the cemented surfaces meet, they will bond instantly so that it is impossible to move or adjust them. The edge is then trimmed flush, preferably with a router and special bit; a file can also be used for trimming.
Putting new laminate on top of old works only on flat surfaces without rounded or shaped edges.
Our cedar siding is being damaged by woodpeckers. What can we do to keep them away? -- A. Lutinski
You need to be careful in combating woodpeckers because they are a protected species and valuable for insect control.
The birds might be attracted to your siding because it is infested with insects, possibly even termites. If there are many small holes in the siding, you have reason to suspect this. If the birds drill large holes, they are making nests.
If insects are the cause, consult a pest-control expert. The wood will probably be sprayed with an insecticide that will cause the birds to lose interest. Hanging strips of cloth or foil over larger holes will sometimes stop nesting attempts.
Electronic devices and repellants are sometimes used to repel woodpeckers. For more information, check www.birdcontrolsupplies.com and www.pestcontrol-products.com.
Other strategies that sometimes scare off woodpeckers: Put wind chimes or other noisemakers near the attacked area; hang plastic owls or snakes near the infested area (these are available at some garden supply stores); squirt the birds with water from a hose; or temporarily cover the infested area with metal screen or sheet metal.
What do you recommend to remove deck stain?
-- J. Brown
The best bet is probably StainStrip, made by Flood Co. (www.floodco.com), which will remove all types of stains and sealers -- oil-based, latex or acrylic. An alternative, DeckStrip, by Wolman (www.wolman.com), will remove oil-based stains and some latex stains. Read and follow the directions and cautions carefully.
Questions and comments should be sent to Gene Austin, 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, Pa. 19422. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions cannot be answered personally.