I own a charming home that was built in the 1970s. In fact, when I bought it a few years ago, you’d swear it was still the 1970s when you walked through the home. The charming owners never updated anything. The home itself was in good condition, it just needed some TLC in the décor department.
One of the first things I swore I’d do after buying the home was take down the wallpaper. Not only was it peeling, it was an eyesore. Bright yellow striped wallpaper anyone? While I tackled this project myself, I learned a lot about the process. Learn from my dos and don’ts below to make your wallpaper removal process a cinch.
– DOs –
Do Prepare the Area
You are going to make a mess, just make peace with that now. You can minimize the mess by clearing the area. Remove any large furniture, take down lights or ceiling fans and cover the carpeting. If you can’t move the furniture, put a drop cloth over it. Trust me, there will be bits of wallpaper everywhere.
Do Use Hot Water
It doesn’t matter if the wallpaper went up a few years or 40 years ago, it may be hard to remove. You don’t know what type of adhesive they used. Even if it seems to tear off easy, make your life easier by spraying the area with hot water. Spray small areas at a time and let the water loosen the adhesive.
Do Invest in Proper Tools
If you want to speed through the process, you may want to invest in a wallpaper steamer. They aren’t expensive and they can make removing wallpaper much easier to deal with. Even if you don’t want to invest in a steamer, you’ll need a wallpaper scraper, spray bottle, gloves, putty knife, a large sponge, and a bucket. The tools shouldn’t break the bank and they will make your life a lot easier.
Do Sand Down Leftover Glue
You may find that after you peel off the wallpaper that some areas of glue left behind. Before you go after it with a putty knife or any solutions, grab a sanding sponge and get to work. You want to protect the integrity of the drywall while removing the glue. It will take a little elbow grease, but you’ll be grateful that your walls are still in one piece.
– DON’TS –
Don’t Paint Over Wallpaper
I know it can be frustrating to remove wallpaper, especially when certain areas refuse to budget, but don’t paint over it. First, it will be extremely obvious that there’s wallpaper underneath. Second, any wallpaper removal solutions you try to dissolve the glue with won’t be able to get through to the glue because of the layer of paint.
Don’t Expect it to Happen Quickly
I’ll admit, I was a bit impatient when I started removing the wallpaper in my home. Granted, I had an entire house that needed wallpaper removal, so I was a little anxious about getting it done. I did find, though, that the faster I tried to work, the less I was able to do a good job. Take your time and work on only one section at a time. I would choose one wall and work on it until it was clean. Then I would take a break, sometimes even for an entire day before attacking the next wall.
Don’t Use Chemicals
You’ll probably find numerous wallpaper stripping products on the market, but don’t use them. Water works just as good, if not better than the chemicals. Why expose yourself to the toxic smells, give yourself a headache and risk being unable to do the work? Instead, use water and fabric softener, just water, or steam to get the job done right.
Don’t Scrape too Hard
Yes, some areas may need scraping, but scraping too hard could leave you with damaged walls. Then you’ll have more work on your hands. Trust me, at one point I was frustrated, so I scraped hard and I found myself with my hand through the top layer of the drywall.
Removing wallpaper can be tedious, so give yourself plenty of time and invest in the right tools. Once you’re done, you’ll have walls that you can sand, prime, and paint to update your home. If it’s anything like my 1970s home, it took me quite a few days, but in the end, I love the result of my freshly painted, and updated walls.