If there’s one thing I learned during my first experience with stripping wallpaper, it’s that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. I found this out after asking for your advice before I started. I really believe the best way to remove your wallpaper all depends on how (well) it was originally applied. Figuring out what works can be like working a really frustrating puzzle.
That being said, I wanted to share what finally worked for me in getting the wallpaper down in our powder room.
Trying to take the very cheapest route, I started by trying the spray bottle, hot water, and fabric softener solution so many had suggested. The paper didn’t budge, and I thought I might die from the fabric softener fumes. . .
So, back in February, I called my husband at work and told him he could go ahead and buy my Valentine’s present in the form of a wallpaper steamer. I used this one, along with a plastic putty knife and gloves so that I didn’t burn my fingers. (I started with a metal putty knife but messed up my wall in several places. . . )
For fear of messing up our walls, I didn’t score the paper first and found that I didn’t have to. With the steamer, the wallpaper came down pretty easily in two layers—the actual paper, which I peeled with my hands once it was loosened by the steam, and the layer of glue, which I scraped off in sheets with my putty knife.
Steaming is a messy hot job, but I was just happy the paper was actually coming down. Be sure to keep a trash bag nearby for the strips of glue as they come off. I was just throwing them like confetti when I first started, only to realize it was re-sticking to our hardwoods. So. . . I steamed those, too, to get the little pieces off of the floor.
Once the paper and glue was completely off, my next step was to sand the walls:
There were a few places where I got overzealous with the putty knife and messed up the walls (especially in the corners). A little bit of spackle fixed most of those spots:
No, I don’t have man hands. My dad stepped in and helped me spackle while they were here one weekend
Once the spackle was dry, I sanded again. At this point, I felt like I might never get to just start painting.
Last step—scrubbing the walls. I used a sponge and a mixture of warm water with a little bit of Spic ‘N Span.
This is what my walls looked like once I was finally ready to start painting:
I used a primer + paint in one, and I really think that using a darker color (Urbane Bronze by Sherwin Williams) helped to disguise some of the wall’s imperfections.
I mentioned before that this project took me almost seven months. That’s not normal, but I did most of my work late at night, in small increments. I also got burned out, closed the bathroom door and worked on other things for a while. I even wrote words of warning to my guests who had to use the powder room during the process.
But, in the end, I did it and feel happy about my accomplishment. I feel less happy, however, about the other three (larger) rooms I still have to tackle.