We live in an old house with a small wallpapered office off of the kitchen. I’m pretty sure the wallpaper was put on the walls decades ago! Some of it was peeling….So I tugged on one of the corners and easily pulled away a small strip. However, the wallpaper did not come away cleanly. It was a mess.
I figured that I’d already started so I should probably remove all of the wallpaper but knew there had to be a better way, I searched the web and talked to friends with wallpaper removal experience.
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So I took the advice and mixed a solution of fabric softener and water in a spray bottle.
The solution worked. The wallpaper came down in the office. The house smelled great!
However, there were some drawbacks. This horrible housewife learned a few important things from the office project.
- The wallpaper was probably 30 years old. There was no paint under it. That old adhesive really didn’t want to come off of the wall.
- The solution got everywhere. The entire house smelled great but the floors got super slippery. I put down plastic in the office but walking from the office to the other rooms tracked fabric softener everywhere.
- Sometimes it took a lot of fabric softener solution to break up the adhesive. The walls got really wet.
- The mess was ridiculous.
The office was tiny and covered with pretty thick wallpaper.
However, the kitchen was also wallpapered. It was not a pretty print. It was hideous in fact!
So after waiting a couple of months, I decided that I really wanted to take the wallpaper down in the kitchen in time for Thanksgiving dinner.
The Horrible Housewife: Old Wallpaper removal tips
The kitchen had two layers of old floral wallpaper almost everywhere on the kitchen walls. To my surprise, the tricky areas above the cupboards had three layers! The floors in the kitchen are old linoleum, unlike the carpeted office. I was not looking forward to slipping and sliding up and down ladders from the fabric softener mist.
While talking about my dread of the wallpaper to my cousin, she asked if I was going to use a steamer. Nobody mentioned using a steamer to me when I did the office! Lucky for me, my husband got me a garment steamer for Christmas one year. I love it, almost as much as I hate ironing. (Side note: I know that many women hate practical gifts and appliances. I am not one of them. I LOVE gifts that make difficult jobs more efficient.)
Once I used the steamer to remove the wallpaper, my love for it grew by leaps and bounds.
Using the steamer to dampen and soften the wallpaper made the work go much faster with much less mess! Don’t forget some areas of the kitchen had three layers of wallpaper!
I didn’t even need to use the scorer or the scraper. I ended up getting a two-inch putty knife. It was more comfortable for me to grip.
After little sections, I would sweep up the wallpaper bits. They were damp from the steam but dried quickly. My house didn’t smell like fabric softener but it was also far easier to walk around than it was after I removed the paper from the office walls.
Four Simple Steps For Removing Wallpaper
- Step one: Use the steamer to dampen and soften the old wallpaper.
- Step two: Peel off as much by hand as you can
- Step three: use the putty knife to gently scrape off the adhesive and bits of paper still on the wall.
- Step four: sweep up the mess!
The painting took far longer but I did save time and money by purchasing a top quality paint and primer combo. Most of the walls only needed one coat of paint!