Safety Steps for Removing Wallpaper in the Company Breakroom

A breakroom is a common space in corporate settings. It is where employees can take time to relax, de-stress, and recharge to increase their work efficiency and productivity. Regularly updating a breakroom’s look and feel is always a good idea. If your office breakroom’s walls are covered with outdated wallpaper, it’s time to remove it and refresh the walls with new paint.

When removing wallpaper in the company breakroom, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Follow the safety guidelines, use protective gear, and consider professional help when removing wallpaper to avoid accidents and injuries.

Importance of safety in the workplace

Importance of safety in the workplace

Workplace safety is always crucial. It protects employees from accidents, injuries, and health hazards. Keeping your work environment safe boosts productivity, reduces downtime, and fosters a positive company culture. Implementing robust safety protocols and training will help minimize risks and ensure the well-being of all staff members.

Preparation

Assess the area

1. Evaluate the breakroom for hazards:

  • Check for electrical outlets, switches, and wiring that may need to be protected or turned off.
  • Inspect for signs of mold or moisture that could indicate underlying issues.
  • Ensure there are no structural problems, such as loose tiles or ceiling fixtures.

2. Identify potential obstacles:

  • Move furniture, appliances, and other items away from the walls.
  • Secure or remove breakable or valuable items.
  • Mark areas needing special attention or caution.

Gather the necessary tools and materials

1. List of required tools:

  • Scrapers (wide and narrow)
  • Sponges and buckets
  • Wallpaper scoring tool
  • Putty knife
  • Spray bottle

2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

  • Gloves (to protect hands from chemicals and sharp tools)
  • Goggles (to protect eyes from debris)
  • Masks (to avoid inhaling dust and fumes)

3. Cleaning supplies:

  • Drop cloths, tarp, old newspaper, or plastic sheeting (to protect floors and furniture)
  • Trash bags (for wallpaper and debris disposal)
  • Cleaning solutions (vinegar and water or commercial wallpaper remover)
  • Towels or rags (for wiping down surfaces)

Notify staff

1. Inform employees about the Project:

  • Send out an email or memo explaining the wallpaper removal project.
  • Post notices in the breakroom and other common areas.

2. Schedule a time that minimizes disruption:

  • Choose a time when the breakroom is least used, such as after hours or during a weekend.
  • Coordinate with the staff to ensure everyone knows about the timeline and any temporary restrictions on breakroom access.

Safety precautions

Ventilation

Importance of proper ventilation

Proper ventilation is crucial during wallpaper removal. It prevents the build-up of mold, dust, and potentially harmful fumes from adhesives or removal agents. Good airflow ensures a safer and more comfortable working environment.

Steps to ensure adequate airflow

  • Open windows and doors: Open all windows and doors in the breakroom to allow fresh air to circulate and contaminants to escape.
  • Use fans: Position fans near open windows or doors to help draw fresh air in and push stale air out.
  • Air purifiers: Consider using air purifiers with HEPA filters to capture dust and other airborne particles.

Protective gear

Necessary protective gear

  • Gloves: Wear heavy-duty rubber or nitrile gloves to protect your hands from chemicals and sharp edges.
  • Goggles: Use safety goggles to shield your eyes from dust, debris, and chemical splashes.
  • Masks: Wear a mask or respirator (N95 or better) to prevent inhaling dust, mold spores, and chemical fumes.

Importance of wearing gloves, goggles, and masks

  • Gloves: Protect your hands from irritants and potential injuries from sharp tools.
  • Goggles: Prevent eye irritation and injuries from airborne particles or splashes.
  • Masks: Protect your respiratory system from harmful inhalants that can cause respiratory issues.

Electrical safety

Turning off power to the area

  1. Locate the breaker box: Identify the circuit breaker that controls the power to the breakroom.
  2. Switch off the power: Turn off the power to the breakroom to prevent electrical accidents while working near outlets and switches.

Safe removal or covering of electrical outlets and switches

  1. Remove outlet covers and switch plates: Use a screwdriver to remove covers from outlets and switches carefully.
  2. Cover exposed outlets and switches: Use electrical tape or plastic covers to protect exposed outlets and switches from water and adhesive remover.
  3. Double-check that the power is off: Before removing the wallpaper, use a voltage tester to ensure that the power is completely off.

These steps will help ensure a safe and efficient wallpaper removal process in your office breakroom.

Wallpaper removal process

Wallpaper removal process

Testing for lead paint and asbestos

Importance of Testing Older Buildings

Older buildings, particularly those built before 1980, may contain lead paint or asbestos. Lead paint poses significant health risks, especially to children, causing developmental delays and other health problems. When disturbed, asbestos releases fibers that can cause severe respiratory diseases, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Procedures for safe testing

1. Lead paint testing:

  • Home test kits: These kits are available at most hardware stores. They let you test for lead on the surface of the paint. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
  • Professional testing: Hire a professional to test the paint for more accurate results. Professionals can use X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzers to detect lead.

2. Asbestos testing:

  • Do not disturb suspected areas: Asbestos testing should be done without disturbing the material, as this can release hazardous fibers.
  • Hire a professional: A certified asbestos professional can safely take samples and analyze them in a lab. Never attempt to collect asbestos samples yourself.

Preparing the wallpaper

Steps to loosen the wallpaper

1. Gather supplies: You’ll need a wallpaper steamer, scoring tool, sponge, scraper, drop cloths, and protective gear (gloves, safety glasses).

2. Protect the area: Cover the floor and furniture with drop cloths to protect them from water and debris.

3. Score the wallpaper: Use a scoring tool to perforate the wallpaper. Doing so allows the steam or removal solution to penetrate and loosen the adhesive.

4. Apply steam or removal solution:

  • Steamer method: Fill the steamer with water and let it heat up. Hold the steamer plate against the wallpaper for around 15-20 seconds to loosen the adhesive.
  • Removal solution method: Mix a wallpaper removal solution according to the instructions and apply it to the scored wallpaper using a sponge or spray bottle.

Tips for working efficiently

  • Work in sections: Tackle small sections at a time to prevent the adhesive from re-hardening.
  • Stay patient: Allow the steam or solution to penetrate the wallpaper completely. Rushing can make removal more difficult.

Removing the wallpaper

Wallpaper removal process

Techniques for removing the wallpaper safely

  1. Start at a corner: Use a scraper to lift a corner of the wallpaper. Once you have a good grip, gently pull the wallpaper away from the wall.
  2. Use a scraper: For stubborn sections, use a scraper to help lift the wallpaper. Be careful not to damage the wall underneath.
  3. Reapply steam or solution: For areas where the wallpaper is not coming off easily, reapply steam or the removal solution and wait a few more minutes before trying again.

Handling Stubborn Sections

  • Repeat the process: Stubborn sections may require multiple applications of steam or removal solution.
  • Alternate methods: If steam and solution aren’t working, try a heat gun to soften the adhesive or a more potent commercial wallpaper remover.
  • Patience is key: Take your time with stubborn sections to avoid damaging the wall surface.

After removing the wallpaper, clean the walls thoroughly to remove any remaining adhesive residue. Allow the walls to dry completely before painting or applying new wallpaper.

Cleanup and disposal

Cleaning the area

1. Removing adhesive residue:

  • Tools needed: Scraper, sponge, warm water, mild detergent, or specialized adhesive remover.
  • Procedure:
    • Start by using a scraper to remove any remaining adhesive gently.
    • Dampen a sponge with warm water with a small amount of mild detergent.
    • Wipe the area thoroughly to loosen the adhesive.
    • For stubborn spots, apply a small amount of adhesive remover, following the manufacturer’s instructions, and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping.

2. Safe use of cleaning chemicals:

  • Ventilation: Open windows or use fans to ensure proper indoor airflow.
  • Protective gear: Wear gloves and safety goggles to protect your skin and eyes from chemical exposure.
  • Instructions: Always follow the instructions on the cleaning chemical labels to avoid overuse or misuse.
  • Test area: Test a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure the cleaner does not damage the wall surface.

Disposal of materials

1. Proper disposal of old wallpaper and debris:

  • Segregation: Separate the wallpaper and any associated debris from regular trash.
  • Bagging: Place the wallpaper and debris in heavy-duty trash bags to prevent tearing and spills.
  • Local Regulations: Check local regulations for disposal, as some areas have specific rules for construction debris.

2. Environmentally friendly options:

  • Recycling: Some types of wallpaper can be recycled. Check with local recycling programs to see if they accept wallpaper.
  • Composting: If the wallpaper is made from natural materials and free of synthetic adhesives, you can compost it.
  • Donation: Consider donating any large, reusable pieces to schools, community centers, or art programs.

Final inspection

Final inspection

1. Checking the area for any missed spots or hazards:

  • Visual inspection: Inspect the walls and surrounding areas thoroughly for any remaining adhesive or wallpaper fragments.
  • Touch test: Run your hands over the walls to feel for any sticky or rough spots that might have been missed.
  • Safety check: Ensure no sharp objects, tools, or chemical residues are left in the area.

2. Ensuring the breakroom is safe for use:

  • Air quality: Ensure the room has little or no strong chemical smells before allowing use.
  • Clean surface: Wipe down all surfaces, including tables and countertops, to remove any dust or chemical residue.
  • Restoration: Replace any furniture or items that were moved during the process, ensuring they are clean and in their proper places.

After removing the wallpaper, cleaning the walls, and repairing them, you may have them painted or covered with new wallpaper as you wish.

Conclusion

When removing wallpaper in company breakrooms, always prioritize safety. Prepare the area thoroughly, ensure proper ventilation, use protective gear, follow safe practices in removing wallpaper, clean up the area, and dispose of debris properly. Your and your colleagues’ safety is paramount.

Always prioritize safety in all workplace projects, such as wallpaper removal. It protects you and your colleagues and ensures a successful and smooth operation. Stay safe and diligent!

Call to action

Many professional painting service companies offer wallpaper removal, as it is often a part of their painting process. Custom Painting, Inc. offers wallpaper removal services by applying a safe and meticulous removal and cleanup process. Leave your painting project to our team of experts so that it will be done right the first time! We will leave your office walls fresh and spotlessly clean, ready for new paint, wallpaper, or other finishes.

Feel free to browse our website and see how our services can benefit you. Do you want to learn more about our services or schedule a free estimate? Call us at 925-866-9610 or complete our contact form.