Removing Wallpaper the Eas(ier) Way

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Hi Everyone!

Welcome to a new day and a new week! Today I wanted to get back to the in-law refresh series, Take 4! Part of the project included removing a half wall of wallpaper in their dining room. Let me tell you, I thought I was prepared for this. My mother has removed wallpaper in almost every house we’d ever lived in as a child. Which totaled over 20. (Military brat here! Though I’ve always hated that expression. I most certainly am no brat.) So I had my mom’s tried and true method in my back pocket. Queue the vinegar and water solution.

I will tell you now. You need not read any further. (But I hope you do!) It is all lies. At least, it was for this particular project. Here’s the real solution. Get a steamer. Rent, buy, borrow, steal, (I mean, obtain) a steamer in any way humanly possible. It will still be a tedious project, but at least it will be bearable. Now that I’ve told you the easier way to remove wallpaper, feel free to keep reading if you’d like to learn a bit more about my experience as well as a few techniques.

wallpaper 3
Before: Needing Some Updating


I started out awesome. I used the vinegar and water solution method by first scoring the wallpaper with a putty knife and then soaking the paper with the solution. You are supposed to score it so the liquid can get behind the paper and loosen it from the wall. Then you wait 15-20 minutes until it is good and soaked in and use the putty knife to scrape it away from the wall. If you are removing vinyl paper, you should first take off the top layer and then use the knife to scrape off the backing.

So, like I said, I started out amazing. My dear friend Janelle was with me and after the first section fell off without a hitch we celebrated. She gave me a little cheer. My father in law hoorayed from the other room. Even the guy laying the wood floor in the front room shared his relief. I thought to myself, “I’ve got this. An hour tops and I’ll be done.”

Whoa nelly, was I ever wrong. So there I was in my ignorant bliss of what was to come and I dove into the next section with gusto and a light heart as I soaked the paper and scored away. I waited a bit and started to peel back what I expected to be an entire section of paper.

That is when the walls came crashing down around me. There may have been weeping and gnashing of teeth. My hopes were decimated as a section of paper about 1 mm x 1 mm tore away from the wall. You may think I’m exaggerating. Ok, maybe it was 1 cm x 1 cm. Either way, it was a horrible realization that I just plain got lucky with that first sheet. You could practically hear the groans throughout the house as people realized what was in store for me.

But, what else was there to do but press on? So on I went with this so called “tried and true” method as my fingers numbed from peeling off such small sections of paper. I think the next section (of a half wall, may I remind you) took about an hour. For one section. That is when the contractor lent me his heat gun to help release the glue from the wall. I mean, come on! What did they use when they put this on? Superglue? So I kept at it for a bit longer when the contractor mentions he has a steamer at home.

I’m pretty sure I just stared at him. Like, seriously? You have a steamer within 5 minutes of here and I am not using it right now? He offered to go get it and I practically hugged him. Thank you Mr. Contractor! You are my new hero.

Once he returned with my life-saver it took a little bit of getting used to, but it was the sweetest moment when that first sheet peeled away whole. I didn’t know I could get emotional over wallpaper, but I was close. Here is my discovered method that made life much easier.

  1. Make sure you have a towel handy to catch the water drips. You also may want a glove if you have a tendency to daydream like I do and aren’t watching the steam closely. Otherwise, you will burn your hand. Multiple times.
  2. I tried a few different ways of applying the steam. The winner was to start at the bottom of the wall and let the steam rise.
  3. Place the steamer wand (Is that what you call it? For now, it is.) near your baseboard as close as possible to a far side of the paper and hold it in one spot for 10-15 seconds. Then move horizontally along the section of wallpaper until you reach the seam. Do this repeatedly as you rise up the section of paper about a foot.
  4. At this point, you should peel up one corner from the bottom and pull the paper slowly as you are using your other hand to guide the steamer up as you peel. Go as far up the section as you have already steamed.
  5. Start the process all over again! From the point where you stopped pulling the paper off, start steaming again in small sections as you go over horizontally first and then up another foot or so. And then continue pulling.

The trick is to use the steam as you pull to continue to loosen it from the wall in big sections. If you pull too fast, don’t apply the steam long enough, or wait too long to pull it off after you’ve steamed it, then it won’t come off as easy. You will really want to get into a rhythm of steaming, pulling, steaming, pulling….until you’ve removed the whole section.

wallpaper 4
Getting There!

Now, I’m not saying I didn’t have to scrape any sections off that didn’t tear. I still had to go back every now and then to get some stragglers that didn’t stick with the group. But they were few and far between and MUCH easier to get off since they were so soaked with steam ahead of time.

So there you have it! Keep at it. Pick a day when you have LOTS of time and patience. And eventually your wall will be ready to repair and paint! Make sure to patch up any spots where the removal process took away the under layers making the wall rough. You want it to be as smooth as possible before painting.

Up next, the big reveal!

Wallpaper 1
Patched and Painted!
wallpaper 2
SO much cleaner.

{May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.- 2 Peter 1:2}



Removing Wallpaper Pinterest

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