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Old 03-15-2018, 04:36 PM   #1
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Use heat to strip wallpaper from aluminum?

Iíve read quite a few threads now on the forum about removing or cleaning the wallpaper.

Has anyone tried to remove wallpaper from the aluminum interior walls using a heat gun or a hair dryer? Does that work? Is it dangerous for any reason? My husband thought it might heat the space in between the aluminum walls and cause a fire.

I notice people mention using heat to remove wallpaper from wood bulkheads but not from aluminum. On the other hand, some recommend using heat to remove the decal stripe outside.

Perhaps it would work to removing the interior panels and lay them in the hot sun? Would that work?

I have limited access here in Mexico to a lot of the products people have mentioned on the forums. And Iíve tried the ones here - Goof Off, a biodegradable paint remover, Awesome, and some others - and nothing has worked, even for just removing the sticky plasticizer residue from the surface of the deteriorating wallpaper.

So I figure if itís going to be so much work just to clean the wallpaper In order to paint or glue over it, i might as well consider removing it entirely. BUT, Iím very reluctant to use a metal hydride like Marine Clean because of the toxicity and the risk to damaging the aluminum underneath.

But we have a lot of hot sun here. Or I could use a hairdryer.

Any thoughts?
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Old 03-16-2018, 08:06 AM   #2
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After trying solvents and exotic chemicals we found spic'n span floor cleaner, an orange liquid sold by walmart, and a nylon bristle brush chucked in an electric drill for more vigorous scrubbing than what can be done by hand - then several clear water rinses got the surface degreased & dry. I know brands & formulas probably vary outside across the border, am sharing what worked for us.

Using heat can work but scratching & gouging aluminum with metallic scrapers happens, and residues left behind are doubly well cemented to the surface and a whole new set of problems. Try a better mechanical scrubber before resorting to peeling off the vinyl?
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Old 03-16-2018, 09:34 AM   #3
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Nylon bristle in drill for cleaning wallpaper

Wabbiteer, (great handle, BTW)

Using the brush in the drill is brilliant and I don't know why I, and apparently most others, didn't think of it.

I am convinced that a lot of these citrus-based solvents are the same but that there are some important variations. I wish I could get better info from the folks in the stores here who usually don't know much about what they're selling, at least in the 4 stores I've visited so far in San Jose del Cabo, including Home Depot.

Tomorrow I will head up to La Paz where they apparently have more industrial grade stuff that I'm inclined to avoid using, but I'm hoping that those vendors will know more about their products. There is a Walmart there, so I'll see if they have the spic -n span.

The brand variations here are sometimes pretty funny. The bottle is clearly Mr. Clean because they've got the genii logo, but the name of the product is something like Mighty Man (it's probably something else, but it's like that.)

The Mexican brand name for their mass market cold cut is Fud. (Pronounced Food.)

So it's a mystery. I'll do some searching online to see if I can find out what these products are here compared to in the US, but I'm not going to bet the house and AS that I'll find out without a lot of trouble. I will report my findings.

The other brilliant thing you said, which I don't remember reading anywhere else, is the hazard of hardening the cement behind the vinyl when using heat. Have you had that experience? It certainly seems plausible. I had planned on using a plastic, not a metal scraper, to minimize the gouging hazard, or a wooden scraper which another posted in another thread made by hand and that apparently worked very well, including giving the aluminum a nice burnishing.

More to discover!

Questions:
1) I'm still wondering if there are any safety hazards associated with using heat on the wall inside the trailer. Anyone know? If not, I might try an inconspicuous corner and see if it works. Problem though is that the corner is where it's most likely to work easily, because it's probably more loosely attached, just from exposure over the years.

2) I was also considering gently (?!) scoring the wallpaper so that the removers can sink in better. Another poster I read suggested that. The risk is scratching the aluminum. I wonder if there's a way of insuring that I don't dig too deep. Like being able to set your blade on a tool to a maximum depth. I'm not a skilled power tool user, but is there an easily found tool that I could use this way, to make sure I don't go below the tiny depth of the wallpaper, just pierce the barrier?

3) Or is that basically sanding? And if it's sanding, what grit do I use?

I'll definitely try the cleaning first but I may want to remove some, if not all, of the paper over time.

Thanks!
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Old 03-20-2018, 02:18 PM   #4
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Using a decent heat gun BUT not ever allow scorch burn on your side?

From everything I've seen, inner surface is thin coat of factory prime paint, everything is likely to be fine except the aroma of mildew & mouse condos getting sanitized. Eww.

Naturally watch the outlets and 12V wiring don't get too hot, stay away from end caps & endcap trim and built-in plastic blah blah window trim blah ceiling vents blah - Truthfully I would save heat gunning installed liners as last resort but as to things being inherently flammable from the factory not too much to worry about. But* I've been wrong before.

If the SnS sunfresh formula helps...

https://www.homedepot.com/catalog/pd...fe78f9a734.pdf

^^ Pareths are alcohols, the Sulfonate is cosmetic grade wetting agent.

Tell us how it goes?
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Old 03-20-2018, 02:56 PM   #5
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Anytime you are using heat and possibly sharp tools inside an Airstream, working with plastic that can generate fumes, you need Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Don't use high heat--you just want to warm the glue barely enough so you can remove the plastic. High heat can cause scorching and is a fire hazard, not to mention all the lovely outgassing of hazardous stuff from the plastic and adhesive.

You should use at minimum, goggles, gloves, lots of ventilation, good lighting and the usual proper clothing and head protection. And, since you are using electrically-powered tools in a metal structure, be sure to use properly inspected and sized extension cords, double-insulated or grounded tools, and be careful.

As Maxwell Smart said it, "Everyone is entitled to at least one fatal error." Don't be a victim of a interesting project or a failure to be careful....
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Old 03-20-2018, 03:10 PM   #6
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I'd try a hair dryer on its low setting--that way temperatures are less likely to be excessive than with a heat gun. And for removing residue without damaging the aluminum, plastic razor blades are very useful.
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Old 03-20-2018, 03:15 PM   #7
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If by "wallpaper," you are referring to the vinyl stuff that is bonded to the aluminum starting back in the late 60's, then I have tried heating some of it up on a test piece on my bench, using a heat gun that has a top temperature in the several hundreds of degrees. The heat did not cause it to release and be easily removed, only to scorch and stink.

good luck
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Old 03-20-2018, 04:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
If by "wallpaper," you are referring to the vinyl stuff that is bonded to the aluminum starting back in the late 60's, then I have tried heating some of it up on a test piece on my bench, using a heat gun that has a top temperature in the several hundreds of degrees. The heat did not cause it to release and be easily removed, only to scorch and stink.



good luck


This is the kicker. So I swath myself in protective gear (good point!) and take each panel outside and do it in the open air. And it still doesnít really work. Belegedhel, this is what I needed to know. Iím just not determined enough to try this while attempting to avoid horrible chemicals if the removal process really doesnít work.

All good suggestions everyone, thanks.

I think Iíll concentrate on finding the nylon bristle attachment for my drill, which is turning out to be a challenge in itself. Down here in Baja Iíve only found the wire brushes so far. If I can just get the surface clean enough, I think Iíll go for paint or a glue-on wall board.
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Old 03-20-2018, 07:46 PM   #9
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Your best bet maybe cover the inside in 1/8 ply after cleaning the panels the best you can. Your limited Baja experience may warrant this. These suggestions have been done successfully by many on the forum with "do this also for best results". It's up to you what your willing to tackle. Another suggestion is clean the best you can (krud kutter works great if you can find) and paint with a good bond coat, oil based like kilz. Good luck
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Old 03-20-2018, 08:14 PM   #10
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Thumbs up Will try Krudkutter

Hey rugjenkins,
Yes, I think it's worth trying yet another product like Krudkutter. I believe I saw it on the shelf somewhere down here - I wish I could remember where! I don't want to spend my life on this project, and I'd just as soon not shorten my life with various poisons.

Of course, it's not a certainty that what they call krudkutter down here is the same as in the US but I'll wager the few dollars it would take to try.

thanks!
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Old 03-20-2018, 08:17 PM   #11
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Wear gloves, it cleans the oils from your hands too. Good stuff, not harmful
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Old 03-20-2018, 08:23 PM   #12
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Smile Wear Gloves with Krudkutter

Soitenly!

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Old 03-20-2018, 09:27 PM   #13
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We used MR Clean sponges it took the sticky stuff off in a jiffy then rinsed with water and rag. It cleaned everything inside the trailer.

Did this in '13 and it's still clean and non sticky.

Trying to remove the vinyl from the aluminum is an exercise in frustration . Ya might as well make new aluminum panels .
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Old 03-20-2018, 09:42 PM   #14
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Question Different units had different vinyl?

Hey Glenritas,

Thanks for chiming in here. I am prepared to try anything that isn't very toxic, and I'll look for the Mr Clean sponges, but I am increasingly convinced that some of us are tangling with different materials from that of others of us. It sounds like some people can easily get the plasticky stuff off with the less toxic cleaners and that others of us need the heavy-duty, hair-curling stuff. I suspect the materials and adhesive in these units have changed over the years. Maybe we can observe a pattern.

I have a 1982 Limited. So far, nothing I've tried that's non-toxic has worked. You seem to have an older trailer, a 1969 unit? That's apparently the one you tried it on? Maybe the vinyl had different characteristics?

I'm just hypothesizing.

Thanks!
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