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Here's the problem. The wallpaper is absorbing the paint. Paint is a water-based product. With that, your paint job won't hold up in short order. It's quite possible that, over the short term, the wallpaper will soften up and stall 'flaking' off. So, what should you do???
Buy yourself some DIF (by Zinsser). Buy yourself a Paper Tiger too. READ the instructions a few times so you FULLY understand the 'process' of how DIF works. In short, remove the wallpaper, 'wash' the walls with CLEAN DIF, then prime (2x's), then apply 2 coats of top coat paint.
AFTER you remove the wallpaper, you may have to sand the 'high spots' where you applied the spackle. One trick that you can do to 'check' your work is to darken the room, then hold a flashlight, right on the wall, and shine the light PARALLEL to the wall. If there are any high or low spots, you'll see 'shadows'. Hold the light on the wall and move it w/you as you walk around the room. As you go, you, or a 2nd person, can apply the spackle. After 24 hrs. of drying time, sand smoothe with fine-grit 220 sand paper. Again, darken the room and see how good of a sanding job it is you did! Fix, or move on, to your heart's content.
Now, back to the DIF ... The most common problem homeowners have when working w/the DIF is they don't let the DIF do its job. This is why it's important to READ and understand the instructions on the container. The DIF is so cheap that you can buy MORE than you think you need, and it won't go to waste. Keep the water BOILING HOT (so buy thick rubber gloves), keep the mix clean (by dumping it out and mixing a new batch when it's 'polluted'), wait the 15 minutes it says for Soaking Time, and I 'wipe' the wall w/the mix a 3rd time JUST BEFORE I start peeling off the paper because it seems to work much better.
Lay down some plastic, followed by some old newspaper on top of the plastic. (It can get a little messy.) And if all the wallpaper doesn't come off, just peel what you can, and re-soak what's left (while waiting the 15 minutes for the mix to DO ITS JOB.) Only press the Paper Tiger enough to perforate the wallpaper. If you press TOO hard, you'll have MORE 'holes' to fill! Keep you eyes on the 'teeth' in the Tiger to keep it 'free and clear' of any paper/paint buildup. If the wallpaper was already painted, you'll DEFINITELY need to press a bit. Don't worry about too many 'passes' w/the Tiger. The more 'holes' the DIF-mix has to work with, the better!
If you have more ?'s about this, post back or e-mail me directly. In short, DON'T spackle any more; remove the paper, the PRIME/SEAL (2 coats), then top coat (2 coats.) Please buy your Primer and Paint from a Paint Retail Store (found in the Yellow Pages under PAINT - RETAIL.) The extra $$$ you spend will be well worth it. If you want, read the Post that was made BEFORE yours by '3angles' on AUgust 13th. In there, too, I talk more about Home Center paints vs. Paint Retailer paints.
Jay J -Moderator
If you decide to not remove the wallpaper but want to fill the holes in, DO NOT USE TOOTHPASTE TO FILL HOLES IN THE WALLS!! (Yes, you are going to "hear it"). Although toothpaste leaves your walls "minty fresh," toothpaste just superficially covers up the holes and gives-way after time. It also will give way if someone hangs a picture in the same location and puts a nail right next to the old hole; the two small holes will likely become one big hole because the toothpaste can't hold. Spackle is designed to be a permanent fix for small holes, and it is even cheaper than toothpaste. ($3 a pint compared to $4 for a 1/4 pint tube).
The good news is that you do not need to re-paint the entire wall. You can carefully spackle the holes with, say, a very small screwdriver, and then touch the paint on the spackle with a thin artist's brush. That tiny dab will not be noticeable. Touch-ups only become noticeable when you brush a small area, not a small dot. If you used a normal spackle knife with excess surrounding the hole, and then painted that area, it would show, but a dot will not.
[This message has been edited by Lawrence (edited August 16, 2001).]
PattyB - what part of the country do you live in? I want to make sure I or anyone I know ever buy a house from you.