Yesterday I showed you my dad’s black wallpapered powder room. With him out of town, we had 24 hours to give the room a full makeover, with the goal being to transition it from ultra traditional to cool and modern. The first step: taking down that black wallpaper and repairing the wall beneath.

Wallpaper removal tips |

Ooooh my goodness, removing wallpaper. I knew it would be tough, but WOW. Having done it, it makes me never want to install it in my own home, because goodness forbid I decide I don’t like it in a few years. But, we found a wallpaper removal method that worked really well for us, and I’m here to share it (and the methods that didn’t work for us!).

Wallpaper removal tips |

Steaming: FAIL!

I have a handheld clothing steamer, and several online searches pointed to steaming to loosen the wallpaper glue to make it peel away easily. Not this glue! Oh, no. And of course, there was the increased risk of burning ourselves on the steam.

We quickly ditched the steamer because it was just making a patchy mess with dripping water.

Wallpaper removal tips |

Wallpaper Remover: FAIL!

Several years ago, I helped a friend remove wallpaper with the classic wallpaper removal kit: a jagged roller thing to perforate the paper, a spray to loosen the glue and a scraper to scrape it off. In my experience, the jagged roller can be dangerous. If you press too hard, it will eat right into the drywall. Not good.

We were able to remove most of the top layer of wallpaper by hand – no steam or chemicals required. Just some gentle pulling. That left the paper and glue stuck to the wall.

How to remove wallpaper |

With the glue exposed, we went straight to the spray-on wallpaper remover. The directions said to spray it liberally, wait 15 minutes, and spray again and scrape it off. But here’s the thing: after 15 minutes, the paper was practically dry again (and still stuck!). So we ended up using nearly an entire bottle on fewer than two walls, and it was only effective if the paper was soaked. That gave me an idea for the next method…

Warm Water & Soap: WIN!

I found an empty spray bottle, filled it with water as hot as the faucet would make it, added a bit of Murphy’s Oil Soap, and went to town spraying the wallpaper. It worked like a charm. Big chunks of paper came peeling right off. After much frustration with chemicals and steam, I was delighted with this practically free wallpaper removal method.

How to remove wallpaper |

We worked from top to bottom in small sections, spraying and peeling with our hands and a wide joint knife, ad nauseum.

After all the paper was down, we used the same warm water and Murphy’s Oil Soap solution and spray and scrub the walls with the rough side of a sponge. The glue residue came off easily, but it took a while.

How to remove wallpaper |

Repairing The Wall, Post Wallpaper

This could be a post on its own, but I’ll keep it short. The peeling took quite a toll on parts of the drywall. For that, we repaired it by skimming it with joint compound. I won’t go into skim coating, but here’s a great tutorial from Ugly Duckling House. We used a quick drying patch because of our time crunch, but if you’ve got time to spare, I suggest following that joint compound skimming tutorial.

Patching and skimming after wallpaper removal |

Prepping for Paint

Since we patched, we had to prime. You haaaaave to prime patches; paint on a patch will just soak in weird and the patch will be obvious. So don’t skip the priming. Since this room was scrubbed up and down, I rollered the whole room with primer. #spoileralert for what paint color we picked.

How to remove wallpaper |

And I primed the trim to get it ready for a couple of coats of off-the-shelf white.

Wallpaper removal tips |

Tomorrow, I’ll show you how we updated the light for less than $20.

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