Tips on Removing Wallpaper (Learned the Hard Way) - Archived

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Last week I talked about the importance of hiring a professional. This week I’ll give you some tips and tricks for removing wallpaper, because I didn’t take my own advice.

I was fortunate enough to purchase my childhood home a year and a half ago and, as full of memories as it is, it needs brought up to date. I am slowly but surely working on some DIY projects in preparation for more serious renovations.

One of my priority projects is converting an upstairs room to be my home office. The last few days have taught me the easiest and most effective way of wallpaper removal requires a can of gasoline and a match. Sadly, my insurance agent did not approve of this method so to Google my husband and I went. Here are the lessons we have learned by going through plans B through L:

Get a scoring tool! Razor blades and carpet cutters are not only insufficient and inefficient, they may also cause damage. Who’d have known? (They are particularly damaging when you reach a certain point of frustration, but I digress.) Save yourself the drywall repair and get the tool.

The tool we got came in a kit that included a very well-built razor scraper with arched handle and a roller on the other end, which I affectionately refer to as my rollerblade. This is really a great tool for the big spots, but you’ll want a few sizes of razor tools to get in smaller spaces and corners. Don’t believe the links that tell you a spackle blade will work, they’re too wimpy. Go for the big guns but be safe, make sure they are in a secure holder of some kind. If you don’t believe me, ask my thumb.

It also came with a chemical to mix in water. Not being a fan of chemicals, we tried the home remedies first. First trick? Use hot water and spray small sections at a time after you score. Then let them sit for about 10 minutes or so. We used a garden sprayer that you’d use for weeds on your sidewalk. Just heat some water in a kettle and top it off to keep it warm. There were two additions suggested on line, fabric softener and vinegar, and I found vinegar more effective. To be fair I was sponging the softener, not spraying, but when spraying overhead I’d rather be rained on with vinegar. The last small area we tried the chemical, just for the sake of science, and it wasn’t noticeably better so give the environment a break on that one.

Lastly, don’t expect everything to come off at once. If it’s the ‘newer’ version of wallpaper that has paper backing it’s a two-step process. Printed part first, paper second. The good news is the paper doesn’t have to soak as long, so spray that before spraying your next section then go back to the paper while that soaks.

I realize there are harder tasks than removing wallpaper, childbirth comes to mind, but be prepared before going in. Until next week…

Melissa Berube, 2019 MBOR President