Sunday, January 10, 2010

Next Time, I'm Painting Over It

Ok - so the wallpaper removal project is about halfway over. I'm taking a break, nursing some blisters and sore muscles, and letting the next layer of solution soak into the walls.

Here are few tips now that I'm no longer a wallpaper-removal virgin...I've reached rookie status.

Homemade is always better. Although you could go and buy a commercial chemical product, I decided to go greener, cheaper, and less smelly with a homemade remedy: downey and hot water. This solution was one of three homemade options I learned about - the others were vinegar and water and ammonia and water. When I woke up this morning and my entire first floor smelled like fabric softener, I can tell you I was sure I'd made the right choice. I don't want to be thinking of my bathroom as a pickle factory...or worse.

Work it wet. The internet encouraged you to try pulling at a corner and seeing if you might just remove large chunks of the wallpaper while it was theory now is, if it was installed properly and isn't already peeling itself off, then it won't come off dry.

Work it REALLY wet. After my first run of spraying down the walls I realized that the directions on how to do this should say SATURATE in all caps because truly, it has to be really wet to peel easily. Soak it really well, leave it for a 15 minutes, then come back and soak it some more...keep the surface you are working on wet, and the next surface should be soaking while it waits.

Multiple passes are needed. While you may get the pattern off the wall, you need to remember there is backing and glue also on your wall. The backing and glue will not be a friendly surface for painting, so you have to keep passing at the walls - saturating it continuously - to get to a clean surface.

Finger Nails make great scraping tools. While the paint scrapers I used worked very well, sometimes there is no substitute for a finger nail to get under a stubborn piece of wall paper, scrape some glue off, or get into those tight spaces in corners and edges.

Clean as you go. I did not use a dropcloth. This was not intentional, I thought I had one, but turns out there wasn't one in the house, and I wasn't interested in going out for that. So, I just made sure to clean in stages. As each section of wall was soaking with the removal solution, I would clean up the last section's peel-off and mess. When I got to the backing and glue stage, I used paper towel to clean the scraper edge and also kept a wastebasket on top of the toilet for easy access. The backing and glue is definitely the messiest as it becomes a pastey substance that gops up and sticks to everything.

This project was both easier, and harder, than I thought it would be. Easier in that by taking my time and ignoring my desire to jump ahead and quelling my tendency to get quickly frustrated and throw in the towel, it actually worked. Harder in that it took most of my weekend to do it and it did require concentration, patience, and stick-to-it-iveness. This journey may be as much about changing myself as it is about changing my house.

All that being said, I can tell you this. It is a good thing this is the only wallpaper in my house, because next time, I'm painting over it.


  1. Just think if you had a really large room! Good job sis - I'm proud of your "stick-to-it" desire!

  2. Talk to me in a couple of months and see if I've run out of steam!


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