About Wallpaper Removal


To understand wallpaper removal and what lead to forming
Safe and Simple it helps to know more about the history of wallpaper.

Wallpaper has been manufactured and installed for several generations. Most wallpaper manufactured before 1950 was made from wood pulp, hence the word “paper” was used.  All walls were made of plaster.  Professionals installed wallpaper with home-made pastes, usually wheat based.  After World War ll wallpaper boomed onto the decorating scene.  Existing homes and most new homes until the late 1960’s were made of plaster.  Due to the demand for wallpaper there were not enough professional installers available so early forms of manufactured wallpaper adhesives became available.  Wallpaper was usually installed by first “sizing” the wall.  Sizing is thinned down adhesive meant to prime the plaster for installation.  Wallpaper was installed with a wheat based adhesive or ready mixed clay adhesive.  Removal of wallpaper at this time was relatively easy.  People removed wallpaper with their own "home recipes". The most common recipe was vinegar and hot water. This worked adequately because the wheat or clay based adhesives broke down due the acidity of the vinegar and the heat expanded the molecular structure of the adhesive.  “Steamers” were the sure fired way to go to remove wallpaper.
In the late 1960's and early 1970’s the wallpaper industry reached boomed even more and reached its highest peak.  New manufacturers and new products entered the marketplace and by doing so created new types of wallpapers. Wallpaper was not made just from paper anymore. The outer surface (the part seen by the consumer) now had several types of looks; grass cloth, string, fabric, silk, to name just a few. These types of wallpapers required a "backing" paper typically laminated to the outer (viewed) surface to give the paper strength to adhere to the wall.  New adhesives were a necessity to make the paper adhere to the wall.  Professional installers were booked for months. 
Due the lack of installers manufacturers answered consumer demand with more new wallpapers (foils, flocks, bold patterns, bold colors, and clear adhesives designed to attract the “home owner installer”.   Vinyl was the answer.  Wallpaper installation was taken out of the hands of the professional installer and turned over to the home owner.   In the late 1960's and early 1970's new "vinyl" wallpaper products were introduced.  Vinyl, an oil based product was cheap and easy to print. Typical vinyl wall coverings consist of an outer layer of vinyl laminated to a paper backing. Someone coined the phrase "strippable" which is still used today. "Strippable" wallpaper means that eventually you will be able to get it off the wall. It does not mean that the process of removing it will be easy. People began to find out that wallpaper removal was not easy which in part began the decline of wallpaper use.
The wallpaper industry responded by manufacturing "prepasted" wallpapers that were to be simple to install and remove. The prepasted paper usually consisted of paper with a thin layer of dried glue applied to the back. The consumer was to simply place the paper underwater causing the glue to activate then adhere to the wall. The problem is no one thought about human nature. Society had been trained for years to paste wallpaper to the wall so most people added paste to the back of the prepasted paper. Human nature compounded the problem with the theory that "A little bit of glue is good therefore a whole lot of glue is real good".

Another type of vinyl product was developed in the late 1970's. It is commonly known as commercial vinyl. Designed to be used extensively for commercial buildings to save the cost of paint and paint maintenance in high traffic areas such as corridors, high-rise buildings, commercial buildings, etc. Typical commercial vinyl is very thick (compared to paper), has no backing and was applied directly to the wall. This works great for plaster construction but no one realized what a boom to construction that gypsum wallboard would be. Gypsum wallboard or "drywall" is the common wall material today. Enter human nature; since commercial vinyl was developed for areas of high traffic and abuse by people, adhesive manufacturers made adhesive that will really stick.  Labor cost exceeded material costs.  If the product will stick better, less chance on warranty labor returns.
On the coattails of the wallpaper manufacturers came the adhesive manufacturers. They see the opportunity to sell gallons of adhesive and do so successfully. Wallpaper adhesive manufacturers also make their own adhesive removers. It is important to note that their removers are formulated to remove their adhesive. Enter human nature again. Typical wallpaper installation is done by a homeowner or professional paperhanger. Homeowners ("Weekend Warriors") simply do not follow instructions. They try any combination of pastes or home "recipes" to install wallpaper. Most paperhangers custom mix their pastes (though they are shy to admit it) to create a "recipe" that works for them. They do not want to return to job sites to repair seams. They do not use pastes 100% pure as received from the manufacturer and to the manufacturer’s specifications. We know this to be true because we constantly test actual field conditions.
Safe and Simple entered the scene about 1990.  We found that there is a demand for a removal product that works, is non-toxic, odorless, and safe for people, pets, & the environment.  Hence or name, “Safe” to use and “Simple” to apply.  Our secret is that we developed our product based on what we have removed from walls and continually evaluate the removed wallpaper.  Our wallpaper removal product works on the premise of re-activating the original adhesive.  We do not use enzymes commonly found.  Our Los Angeles office offers wallpaper removal services and has removed over 500,000 rolls of wallpaper in all types of situations and wall conditions. By being a small company we have the distinct advantage of reacting to the marketplace immediately. We specialize in wallpaper removal only. We have no “big brother” that controls us.  We look at every roll of wallpaper removed as a learning experience . . .we have to.

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