This is mostly a post of pure commiseration. If you are in the middle of wallpaper removal, you are not alone. It sucks. Removing wallpaper is the worst.I finally parted ways with the wallpaper in our dining room. (Well, half of it, but I don’t want to tell you yet why half of it is still up because if you are in the middle of a wallpaper removal, you will hate me and I don’t really want to be hated for wallpaper choices.) We have now removed wallpaper from nearly every single room of our house – only the kids room, den and family were spared the glue so every non-listed room was so much work! One room, the master bedroom, was actually easy. When my husband walked out an hour after he walked in and said he was done, I didn’t even consider the possibility he was serious. But that has been the only time our luck has swung that way. Every other room was difficult and tedious, the most difficult being the paper in our hallways, which is the same paper that is in our dining room. It’s quality stuff that was hung really well so I was expecting a long job and that’s what I got. The stuff came off in tiny little 2″ pieces. This small wall took me 3 days!
We have a wallpaper steamer which is OK, and my husband’s preferred method. I get headaches from the smell of the hot plastic and I don’t think it goes any faster than my preferred ways, so I rarely use it. I think a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar mix in a spray bottle and some tenacity does the job best. Even better if the water is warmed up before you put into the spray bottle. And then you just work it, in 3 steps: First take off the top layer of paper, which is usually thick and hard to penetrate with moisture so it’s by far the slowest. If it peels off in large sections, consider yourself lucky. Second, soak the backing paper layer and then it will usually scrape off easily with a scraper. Then, lastly, clean up the glue residue with the scraper and vinegar solution and a rag. Sometimes you can get small sections where you are peeling all 3 layers concurrently, but that wasn’t the norm this go round. Fun! Now on to priming! Oddly, the 1961 walls under this 1970 paper are raw. Never primed, never painted. What went on in those 9 years? How is House Detective not a job?
I should be an expert at this by now, but the only thing I can say with certainty is that the wallpaper removal product industry is a sham. Anything that claims to make this job a breeze, can’t. They only want your money. In the same way that books and products claiming to make babies sleep through the night cash in on sleep deprived parents, these wallpaper removal products feed off your desperation. The truth is that nothing will make this better. And those devices that poke holes in your wallpaper only destroy your drywall. I know, from experience. In our last house, that also had wallpaper everywhere, we destroyed a wall trying to get stubborn paper off with a Paper Tiger. It was so much extra work to repair the wall that I will never use one of those again.
OK, now…about that thing I didn’t want to disclose…kinda awkward…uncomfortable haha…I’ve decided to hang grasscloth on that back wall of our dining room on top of the other wallpaper. I know, so bad!!! After the other wall’s removal took so long I thought, screw this doing-it-the-right-way business. Time for me to CUT SOME CORNERS. How many times have I cursed the person who layered wallpaper over wallpaper? And now I’m that person! But, I feel like I’ve paid my wallpaper dues enough that I can now be the one who doesn’t give a crap. It’s a little exhilarating. One day someone will be cursing me as they try to remove it…but I figure that person will likely be me, so I can live with the bad wallpaper vibes I’m puttin’ out. In the meantime, I have so much painting to do. So long!