Getting Rid of Wallpaper

2014-02-11 17.14.46eWelcome to my bathroom. Isn’t it lovely? Well, it was in the 90s, anyway. Time for the wallpaper to go!

Note the lovely vaulted ceiling. It’s 12′ tall. I’m all of 5’3″. With the aid of a 6′ ladder, I was able to get most of it taken down in an afternoon. With another afternoon with my taller husband, we got it all down. There are plenty of sites out there to tell you how to do that, so I won’t detail the whole issue here (besides, I have no cool pictures). But I do have a few tips! All you need is a gallon of vinegar, a garden sprayer, water, a ladder, and patience. Lots of patience. One caveat: not all wallpaper is like this. If a top layer doesn’t come off, it may not be this easy to pull off.

This particular wallpaper was a plastic-coated printed layer fused on a paper backing. See that piece unfurling in the upper left corner of the second picture? It came up pretty quickly by picking at a corner. Pulling slowly, carefully, and patiently at the corner, I was able to easily pull the top layer off of the paper backing. Using both hand at the bottom of that strip, I pulled away from the wall and let it separate itself.  The key is SLOWLY, CAREFULLY, AND PATIENTLY. It might take a count of 10 to get a foot or so of the top layer detached from the paper, but if I was slow and consistent, it would come off. If I got too impatient, it would tear. All I had to do was pick up where I left off. Most of the time, I’d get everything off, even up to the 12′ ceiling!2014-02-11 17.12.50

Now that the 90s design is off my walls, I’m left with tan paper. Kinda looks like suede! However, that has to go, too. Having done this before, I knew that I needed a garden sprayer (get a new one, not one previously used for pesticides!). Fill the garden sprayer with warm water, then a few “glugs” of white vinegar, which might be a cup or so. Get the gallon jug of white vinegar…it’s less than $4. You’ll use a lot of vinegar water!

My method was to spray the first length of paper from top to bottom. Now do the one next to it. And then the third. Take a 5 minute break — a good time to hydrate. Go back to the first length and spray again, making sure it’s completely saturated. Do the same with the next two. Wait a few more minutes. Is the paper looking uniformly saturated? It should be as dark as it can get. As long as the paper keep soaking up water, keep spraying it. When it starts running down the wall, stop! It usually takes three sprays over about 15 minutes.

Be sure to frequently pump up the pressure in the sprayer. Set the sprayer for a fairly fine mist. You want the moisture in the paper, not on the floor!

DO NOT RUSH THIS PROCESS. You can, but you’ll get tiny little pieces. Patience is key. Taking frequent breaks to hydrate helps.

Pick at the corner of the first section. If it peels up easily, carefully and slowly continue pulling back the paper, just like pulling off the first layer. This time it’s wet and slippery and tears easier. Go a bit slower. Pull out from the wall, keeping the paper at about a 30 degree angle, and you’ll be able to pull off giant sections at a time, perhaps even the whole segment!

After getting the first section off, wet the second, third, and now fourth sections. Remove the second section. Wet the third, fourth, and now fifth section…follow this routine and you’ll be done before you know it.

Fast forward to the last piece of soaking wet, slimy paper. It feels really good to take that last one down. Time to celebrate!


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