February 25, 2011

Wallpaper Removal - How To

Our house has a ton of wallpaper.  I'm convinced that when this house was decorated in the 80s it was probably the height of style.  However, that leaves me with lots of scraping and sanding to remove the wallpaper, borders and sponge-painted textures from the walls.

Now that we've done a few rooms of wallpaper removal, here are my secrets...

First, remove baseboards and chair rail (if applicable). 
This is easily done using a crowbar (or you could use the back of a hammer) to pry the wood away from the wall.  Our chair rail was installed using nails only (no glue), so the surface was in pretty good shape after removal.  If you have glue... sorry... sand, sand, sand.

Wallpaper removal was a bit tougher… but very doable even for beginners.  Here’s what you need:

  1. large bucket (or spray bottle)
  2. large sponge
  3. wide putty knife (for scraping) - I use a 6" one
  4. hot water, vinegar
  5. patience!

  1. Try to peel off the paper with your hands or using a putty knife (gently).  Some of our paper was two layers and the top came off easily by peeling it off, and the paper backing required the following treatment.  If your top layer does not come off with peeling start with Step 2.
  2. Fill bucket with hot water, add a big splash of white vinegar (or whatever you have).
  3. Wet the wallpaper by wiping it with the sponge, you want to make it very wet and allow the water to penetrate the paper.  Alternatively you could spray it with a spray bottle, but this can make the whole wall wet... your call.  I have found the spray bottle to be faster, but you may not have one on hand. 
  4. Wait – you have to wait at least 10 minutes for the water to loosen the glue.  If the paper does not seem any looser after 10 minutes wet it again.
  5. Scrape – if you have wet the paper enough and waited long enough it should come off pretty easily although you may have to rewet and scrape as you go.
  6. Have patience, this part is VERY time-consuming, but it will be worth it when you are finished!
Of course I realize that there are fancy steamers, etc out there.  But I removed all of our wallpaper for around $5 (the cost of the scraper and the vinegar) and some elbow grease.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

Good to know! I would love to remove some of the wallpaper in our place (it is so hideous) but I didn't have the guts- thanks for the How To!