How to Remove Wallpaper Part III: The Big Kahuna

You’ve seen my previous wallpaper removing endeavors here and here. Unfortunately, the kitchen and dining room was a dream compared to this bedroom.

This is a photo from realty site. Doesn’t it look serene. So peaceful and calming. Light blue sky relaxing.

You would never have guessed evil is lurking underneath that pale, pretty blue.

I was happy. I mean, I thought I was DONE! The wallpaper removing tools were stashed away in the basement. I was going through our upstairs scrapping and spackling all the walls and there was a little crack in the wall of our bedroom.

Just like every other little piece of peeling paint, I pulled out my metal scraper to take it off. I should not have done that. I scraped off a piece of blue paint only to find pink and white floral wallpaper underneath.

All of a sudden I was looking around and saw the wallpaper seams. It’s funny what you don’t see until you see it. (Aren’t I profound?)

(Due to being a foreclosure our house had a LOT of peeling paint because of the house had to be winterized and de-winterized many times.)

In retrospect, I should have stopped here. There should have been lightning bolts and and big fat, red stop signs glaring at me from all four walls. I should have done the unthinkable and just painted over the blue.

But that’s not what happened.

The first layer of painted over wallpaper came off pretty easily. Things were looking up. Unfortunately, the second layer behind the painted over layer was NOT coming off.

I even ditched my chemical-free approach of vinegar and hot water and bought Piranha wallpaper spray. That helped a little. Even with vigorous scraping this paper was not coming off. (And Kat was definitely running on Dunkin’.)

That is when I learned there is a worse wallpaper-sin than painting over wallpaper. The worse thing you can do is not size the walls. When you wallpaper over a virgin wall you are supposed to size it with a liquid coating. Whoever put up the original wallpaper did not do this, therefore the wallpaper glue became one with the wall.

I was stuck with this:

I called this my “Exorcism of Emily Rose” room.

I was even looking up new wallpapers to put over the walls because I didn’t think it was going to come off.

Then, in a pleasant turn of events, when I was about to call wallpaper steamer rental places, my father-in-law said he had one that we could use. *Hoorah!*

The steam definitely did the trick. It went really, really slowly, but the wallpaper came off.

While I still don’t like steamers because they 1.) spit hot steam all over you and 2.) dribble hot water and wallpaper glue all over the floor and your hands, I was pumped. It was definitely worth all the time and tears (okay, there weren’t tears. There were, however, lots of frustrated sighs. Especially since I was trying to protect the original hardwood floors from copious amounts of hot water and glue).

To use a steamer you fill the tank with hot water and let it heat up. Then you proceed to hold the steaming head over a small section of the wall for a minute or so. Immediately use your metal scraper to remove the paper before the steam evaporates.

Once you get the hang of it you will be able to steam and scrape at the same time. But the paper still came off in tiny pieces.

Once all the paper was gone I went over the walls again with the steamer to scrape off the excess glue still on the walls and then washed the walls down with a sponge and the Piranha wallpaper removal spray.

And I was left with this beautiful room! (Do you sense the sarcasm?)

We’ve already spackled and sanded the walls and are hoping to paint soon! I think we’ve finally decided on Valspar Seashell gray. As seen here:


I’m trying something new and going gray. I have painted rooms sunshine yellow and lime green, but a little neutral like gray scares me. Isn’t that silly? I’m trying to listen to my own advice – I can always paint over it if I hate it!

Sadly, that wasn’t the last wallpaper I encountered! I found more when we ripped out a radiator in the hallways. Fortunately that came down right away with the Piranha spray. And I think that was the last of it! (Knock on wood!)

Do you have any nightmare wallpaper stories?

3 thoughts on “How to Remove Wallpaper Part III: The Big Kahuna

  1. How horrible, but it looks like you have it under control. Our first home had one room where they too painted over wall paper, which had been hung on top of paneling. Luckily, our new home doesn’t have any wall paper (knock on wood, we will have two rooms left to paint, and hopefully we inspected them enough! Good luck with the room!!!

  2. Hello?????????? Shouldn’t your blog mention your dad’s many hours invested in helping strip some of that bedroom wallpaper and that your dear self-sacrificng mom spent her BIRTHDAY in there scraping??!!

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