Like many older homes, our home has plenty of character.
The kind of charm that made my heart go ‘pitter-patter’, the moment I set eyes on it.
Lovely hardwood wood floors-detailed trim-intricately carved staircase…..
Yes, all those wonderful, charming attributes made me fall in love indeed-so much so, that I didn’t even care that most of the walls were covered in VERY dated-VERY worn wallpaper!
Of course, eventually, I had to face that nasty wallpaper head on.
I wasn’t naive. I knew removing layers of old wallpaper wasn’t going to be easy. I had heard the horror stories-so before I even started the first room (dining room), I did a LOT of research.
But even though I went into this tedious project with a great deal of knowledge-there was one key factor that none of those tutorials offered me. Which is why it is my #1 tip!
Be prepared for what is under the wallpaper! If you’re like me, this is the last thing on your mind. Truth is-like me, you probably think there can’t be anything worse than than that ugly wallpaper you can’t wait to remove. But trust me…there could be. I learned this the hard way, when I started removing the wallpaper from our guest bedroom. I was so focused on tearing off the hideous floral paper, that I didn’t pay attention to the wall it was attached to! Before I knew it-the plaster wall crumbled, and the entire room was covered in a thick coat of dust! Sure, it’s probably the WORST case scenario. It’s more likely you will find something like this.
***We found several big holes in our plaster walls after removing the wallpaper in our living room. I’ll be sharing in a later post how we resolved this issue.
Don’t waste your money on expensive chemicals and equipment. Now don’t get me wrong-a wallpaper steamer makes the chore a whole lot easier! (I used one when I did our dining room. But it’s clumsy (hard to maneuver when you’re standing on a ladder), and even if you rent one, it’s an added expense that really isn’t needed. I assure you, four rooms later-and I am SOLD on using a spray bottle filled with warm soapy water and a sharp metal scraper. ** I have also used vinegar diluted with water-but if you’re like me-hours and hours of smelling vinegar can be a bit overwhelming. I recommend using a small spray bottle, because you want the water to remain warm. Yes, you will be filling it up often, but trust me, it’s worth the extra effort. As for the soap-I just use plain old dish soap. Nothing fancy-but it works like a charm. *** I also recommend that you cover your floors and baseboard trim securely to protect them!
Do not over-spray! One might think the more wall you soak, the faster the chore of removing wallpaper will be-but you couldn’t be more wrong!! I found this out when we removed the wallpaper in our upstairs hallway last year! I was six hours into the process, and although I had removed all of the paper from the walls, there was still the ceiling to do! I was exhausted and had a terrible crick in my neck, and I just wanted that backing GONE! So I soaked every inch of that ceiling-believing I was giving myself a head start. NEGATIVE! Instead, those sections I couldn’t get to dried, reactivating the glue beneath, and I had a mess on my hands! But there is an even more important reason NOT to over-spray. You can damage the surface under the wallpaper! We have plaster walls-and although plaster can take on water, if cracked or damaged, it can deteriorate quickly if soaked. Drywall on the other hand, should NEVER be soaked. I recommend working in sections (small enough that you can completely scrape off the paper within 15 minutes.)
Allow the warm-soapy water to soak in for a few minutes-and begin scraping! VIOLA!
No two wallpapers are alike! This couldn’t be more true for our house! When we removed the wallpaper off the walls in our upstairs hallway-it was a breeze! Maybe it was how it was applied-maybe it was the material, or maybe it was just because it was only one layer…but regardless, it was so easy, that I completely forgot all the other wallpaper horror stories in this house! But I was quickly reminded of them, when we started on the living room!
At face value-this worn section of wallpaper looks like it could all come off with just a tug, and indeed, some of it did-backing and all. But don’t let this one section fool you! Right above this area was three-yes I said three VERY different wallpaper layers-and each one was more difficult than the next to remove. And that was just the wall-don’t get me started on the four layers of border we found AFTER we removed the drop down ceiling! The top layer of wallpaper was definitely on the ‘cheaper’ side, compared to the other layers-and that does make a difference. It also makes a difference if the wallpaper was professionally installed, or NOT so much!
Removing wallpaper isn’t over until it’s over! There is no greater feeling in the world, than when you look around the room, after hours and hours of stripping wallpaper-and see it all gone! If you’re like me, you will embarrass your husband by doing a happy dance in front of the window for all the neighbors to see! That is..until you realize the wallpaper may be gone, but the work isn’t!
Your newly stripped walls may ‘look’ bare-but trust me-they aren’t. There is a residue on them from the glue-and it needs to come off, before you can even think about priming and painting. Once again-your best friend for doing this step is good ole’ fashioned soapy water. Just fill up a bucket-grab a sponge, and get scrubbing! After you have washed every bit of glue off, allow your walls to dry (especially if it’s plaster) for at least 48 hours, before priming.
And if you’re REALLY -REALLY lucky-the next step is priming and painting!!
But if you’re like me-and your walls are in need of MAJOR repair-stay tuned! I’ll be sharing my tips next week!
Wallpaper removal can be frustrating, and it definitely takes patience, but I hope I’ve offered a few tips to make it easier on your nerves and your wallet!
Do you have any tips I missed? I’d love to hear them!
Blessings and hugs,