The Wallpaper Situation

Do you remember from my last post I said I was going to share the good, the bad and the ugly? Well, wait no more, I have some ugly coming right up. I think this was the first thing I honed in on when touring the house – the wallpaper. It was everywhere except the living room, that room is a different post!

But why?

It was in the 2 bathrooms, each of the 3 bedrooms, the hallway and the kitchen. If that wasn’t enough, the kitchen ceiling, the shelving and the light switches all were ‘papered. Every room has a different pattern- isn’t that a special touch?? Wait, you know what’s even more special? On some walls the wallpaper has an additional layer of wallpaper border. So the wallpaper has wallpaper : ( And in some places two actual layers of wall paper ’cause somebody covered ugly with more ugly. But I guess it was the style in the ’70’s and ’80’s.

I knew I had to strip the paper and I knew that it was time consuming BUT I did not know how horrific this job was. I had read and watched many how to’s and they all say different things……so here is what worked for me and made me a professional stripper.

Using the steamer

The first wall I tackled was just a painted wall with a ‘paper border. I figured this would be good as my first challenge. For this I bought wallpaper removal spray from Lowes, just spraying on the paper DOES NOTHING. I had ordered a scorer (suggested in the Youtube videos I watched) on Amazon but it hadn’t arrived in time for this trip. I went to Lowes again and Walmart to see if they carried this contraption, they did not. However, Lowes had a wallpaper steamer for $50, at this point I was desperate. I would have bought a $300 something if it had wallpaper remover on the box. So, the steamer, metal scraper I bought and the ladder became one for the next hour.

There is a water reservoir that you fill, your turn it on and 5 minutes later steam is bellowing out of this flat plastic thing that you wave over the paper. It worked great except it caused so much water to ooze down the wall with condensation. So much so that I was concerned that it would damage the wooden floor boards. This is when I looked at the rest of the walls in the house and knew that I was deep in shit. I quickly calculated time and wall square footage.

The hacking of the wall – DON’T DO THIS!! It can be saved with the spackle

After this border I thought I was ready to tackle the next wall. Nope. No I wasn’t. Not even close. I steamed and scraped. And steamed and scraped deep and steamed and scraped so deep I thought I dug through to the outside of the house. Folks, I didn’t know the depths of the paper to the depths of my ass. I thought the paper was so thick it didn’t occur to me I was digging through the drywall. I was at an epic fail. Frustrated I had to walk away with deep gashes in the wall.

The next trip I had another plan from another video. The scourer and fabric softener. I used this cool wheeled scourer to pierce little holes in the ‘paper for the watered solution to seep into and hydrate the glue to be able to scrape to off the wall. I started small it a 12 x 12 area. I soaked my rag into a cap full of Sauvitel fabric softener (I bought in the Dollar Store) and 3 cups of water in a .50 cent container (also from the Dollar Store) then let this amazing smelling fabric softener soak into the perforated walls. Five minutes later was able to peel a little off the corners and was then able to scrape the wallpaper off with my little metal scraper. This was a positive turn. It took me 2 hours to do 72 x 18 inches. Not far but definitely better.

It wasn’t until this week (my 4th trip up at this point) that my softener solution and metal scraper took me to a new level. I had miss placed my narrow 2 inch scraper and discovered Eddie’s 4 inch scraper and the extra 2 inches made the world of difference ; ) I tripled my scraping square footage in the same amount of time. Hallelujah. Let’s see what a 6 inch scraper can do!!

Once all the paper is removed and the walls cleaned off of all the little bits of paper, we are ready to spackle the walls to cover the imperfections from scraping the walls. It’s like icing a cake with butter cream. After the spackle has dried give it a light sand, wipe down all the dust off the wall and you’re ready to prime paint your walls. I use Kilz Primer. I then paint the walls with Sherwin Williams Snowbound, I use this in the whole house as I have discovered in my decorating style I like the white walls and let the art and furniture be the pops of color.

Slow and steady wins the race….



PS. Top tip: lay a drop sheet on the ground to catch some of the water and the falling paper because now that you have reactivated the glue on wallpaper it can potentially stick to your floor when it dries as you’re continuing to work on the floor. The clean up will be much more painless, trust me!

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