stripping wall paper - different layers

Hi,
I just began my first attempt at stripping wall paper and i realize i am not sure where the wallpaper ends and the drywall begins. First there is a thin plastic layer I can just peel off by hand. Under that there is a medium thick light brown layer, under that a thin whitish layer and under that a thick dark brown layer.
How far down should I be stripping?
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modern drywall is a layer of grey cardboard over white powdery rock, gypsum. in the olden days drywall was tan cardboard over gypsum. do you know that the walls are actually drywall, if the house was built before WW2 it may have plaster walls.
your top layer sounds like vinyl-based wallpaper. i'd pick a small area and soak the heck out of it with water and keep carefully excavating til you know what you got.
if you have many layers, a steamer might be helpful, i've gotten 6 layers off at a time but had to hold the steamer in place for about a minute, this was on plaster though - plaster you can do this with because when you get through all the wallpaper you have that nice smooth rocklike surface. on drywall when you get thru all the layers, you have...cardboard.
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loch wrote:

revealed is the paper part of the wallpaper. Spray that with water a couple of times (soaks in pretty fast). After the water soaks in, and before it dries, start scraping GENTLY with a plastic scraper. That should get you down to the drywall. You do not want to gouge, scrape or peel away the paper coating of the drywall. After the first soak/scrape of the wallpape, you probably have bits of wallpaper and lots of paste remaining. Spray/soak again, scrape some more. When the paper is gone, or mostly gone, spray again and scrape what remaining paste will come off - easier than scrubbing. I always let it rest for a day at this point so's not to soften the drywall. Scrub the rest of the paste with an old towel and warm water. Little soap ok. Any paste remaining can show texture after it is painted, so you want to be sure to get it all.
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After more exploring. I've concluded that the thin white layer is paint that the wallpaper was put on top of. It has some kids scribblings on it. So the brown/tan layer under that is the drywall cardboard, and indeed, I picked one spot and found the gypsum under that. the house was built in the 1950s.
So, should i be leaving the paint on, or trying to strip the paint also? I intend to have professional painters paint the room when I'm done. I decided to try stripping the paper myself to save some money. Already the paint comes off at times, so there are sections of the wall with paint and sections without. The drywall itself is coming out undamaged, I'm pleased to say.
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Just a tip from someone who has spent more than 100 hours removing wallpaper:
Use plain water and let it soak in. If you just HAVE to scrape, use one of the plastic putty knife things. Although, my favorite tool is a 99 cent store metal spatula that has some sort of mystic qualities. Just be careful not to gouge.
When you have it wet enough, it will come right off. It takes time, patience, and a gentle touch.
There is NO fast easy way to do it.
YMM(and probably does)V
Steve
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loch wrote:

drywall if you try. You might want to spot prime the spots where the paint has come off so the painter gets more even coverage. Two coats of paint? Make sure you know what you contract for before the painter starts work :o)
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