The peeling piece of wallpaper at the corner of my shower had been bothering me for weeks. When I moved into an old house covered floor to ceiling in wallpaper, I knew the battle would have to begin sooner or later. The steam from the shower had expedited the process in the bathroom--who was I to argue with that? As I gripped the corner and pulled, the wallpaper popped off easily and without resistance. This won’t be that bad, I thought to myself, maybe I should just continue with this wallpaper removal right now! Five hours later, surrounded by tiny bits and pieces of paper at my feet, I could almost hear the movie narrator of my life saying, “It was, however, that bad.” The areas closest to the shower were easy—but it got more complicated the further I moved from it. It wasn’t the most appeeling process (bad pun alert), but I was happy to learn a lot as the hours passed. Do you know what I figured out? That it doesn’t have to be as bad for you as it was for me. By the end of the night, I found the trick to wallpaper removal lies in proper execution of the Four S’s. If done properly, you shall defeat the battle against old dated wallpaper. What are the Four S’s, you ask? Read on to find out!SLICE:
For this step all you need is a mini box cutter. Gently running the blade along the top and bottom seams of the wallpaper (usually up against crown molding or a ceiling) and any permanent fixtures in the room that the wallpaper is behind—this helps so much later on. Without doing this, the wallpaper will remain stuck in some areas behind crown molding or other fixtures and will be more challenging to get off. By pre-cutting the top and bottom of the wall, the process instantly becomes easier. The paper will later just peel off, leaving a clean line rather than jagged little edges from tiny remaining pieces of wallpaper.SCORE:
To properly prepare for the removal of your wallpaper, you first need to use a wallpaper scoring tool. I cannot stress the importance of this step to you! It is a little handheld tool that cuts tiny holes in the paper. I got mine from our local Home Depot for around $5, and I can assure you—it’s a $5 well spent. In a circular motion, slide the scoring tool over the entire wallpapered surface. Be sure not to press too hard or the wall will have tiny uneven polka dots once you peel back the wallpaper. Pre-scoring the wallpaper is incredibly helpful for the next step—without scoring, you’ll be adding time and unnecessary struggle to your project.STEAM:
Another tool I picked up from my local hardware store was a wallpaper steamer. I went ahead and purchased one for around $50 because I was being literal, not funny, when I said our house was covered floor to ceiling…all over several ceilings. Needless to say, it was a wise investment for me. However, if you only have a small project, steamers are available for rental—check wherever you go to pick up your scoring tool for their pricing. I learned that the reason the first piece of wallpaper in my shower peeled off so easily was because of the steam produced from many hot showers. If used correctly, the wallpaper steamer produces the results of (approximately) 1,000 showers in one night. This steamer will come to be your best friend: name it, appreciate it, feed it with water. The tiny holes left behind from the scoring tool allow the steam to penetrate behind the paper and dissolve the glue. If you don’t work too quickly (i.e.: you wait several seconds before moving the steamer), the steam will make the wallpaper come off easily. If you meet resistance in your next step—YOU AREN’T STEAMING LONG ENOUGH.SCRAPE:
Once you steam a nice little section of the wall, you grab a scraper and begin to see the fruits of your labor. Personally I came to prefer a 5 in 1 Painters Tool as I found it provided the largest variety of uses when it came to getting the wallpaper out of the nooks and crannies. If you’ve done the steps above correctly, this should be the easiest and most satisfying part of your experience. If you haven’t paid enough attention to detail with something, you’ll notice resistance as you scrape. If it shows opposition at the top or the bottom, you probably haven’t sliced well enough. If it shows opposition elsewhere, it probably means you haven’t scored or steamed well enough. Whatever the reason, try, try again. The scraping should come easy.
After all is said and done, you’ll have some bare walls once all the wallpaper comes down. Now you have to figure out what to do with them! I recommend taking a handheld sanding block to the walls once they dry. The sanding will remove any leftover glue and prepare the surface for priming. After you prime the walls, they’ll be ready for their next life. My walls are now painted and it feels like an entirely new room. I am hopeful that someone might benefit from my life experiences and that this task will come easily to any who have to endure it. There is always another option, however: hire someone else to do the dirty work. Hahaha!
Have you recently removed wallpaper and are looking for fun ideas of what to do in its place? Give us a call at Curtain Call Creations! We’d love to help out.