Monday, September 19, 2011

How Not to Remove Wallpaper

Our house is 18 years old and our downstairs bathroom looked 18 years old!  It had original wallpaper and cabinets from when we bought it in 1993 and if you remember, wallpaper was quite the rage then - now not so much.  I took the wallpaper off another bathroom several years ago and planned to do this one also, but the first one was such a traumatic experience I just couldn't face it again.  Finally, I  couldn't tolerate it any longer and when I discovered I had a few vacation days I was going to lose in October I decided to take 3 days off last week and tackle this room. 

My first suggestion if you are going to try this is don't - walk away and hire someone to do it for you.  It is not a job for the weak at heart or body.  If you read directions for taking off wallpaper, the first thing they all say is to score with a wallpaper scorer and then spray with a remover.  My next suggestion is skip this step completely.  It is useless.  Unless you score your paper much more than I did the solution only penetrates a few spots and the underneath layer of paper is still mostly dry.  This means after you get off the first layer you still have to spray again and start on the second layer and in my experience that spray bottle is killer on your hands so you don't want to do it any more than necessary.  Also the top layer of paper didn't come off a bit better wet than dry so my decision was to pull off the top layer dry.  You can see from the pictures sometimes this was great and it came off in long strips and sometimes little postage stamp size pieces.  Once you get the top layer off ( if your arms and hands are still attached to your body) then spray the underlayer and scrape off.  This is the easiest part, but still a lot of work.

 Two wallpaper removers I tried.  They both worked - I couldn't tell any difference.  I have also heard you can use fabric softener, but didn't get to that point.  (You can see ugly wallpaper in background)

Red object on right in wallpaper scorer (don't waste your money!) and yellow on left is wonderful wallpaper scraper.  It is worth its weight in gold.  You hold onto the yellow knob and it works much better than a putty knife and is much easier on your hands.

 This shows the work in progress.  You can see I sometimes had better luck than others.  It was a long day!
Thursday was paint day and that went much easier.  I used Behr's Ultra with primer and it was great.  It just took one coat and a little touch up after. The woodwork took two coats, but even that went fairly quickly. 

Friday I tackled the ugly cabinets with 90's hardware.

I first cleaned with TSP, let that dry, sanded lightly, primed with Kilz, and then painted.  DH removed all the hardware before I primed and I placed the doors on the kitchen table on an old shower curtain. After the first mishap (the black paint I had bought was dark, dark green), and another trip to Home Depot for black-black, the painting went fairly smoothly except that the paint took forever to dry.  The guy at HD said that the darker the color, the longer it takes to dry (didn't know that).  Finally after a few touch ups we got the new hardware on and the doors back up.  I had hoped to finish in three days, but it actually took part of Saturday and Sunday too, allowing for drying between coats and installing new hardware after it dried.

This is now:

It is really hard to take pictures in a tiny bathroom.  We aren't finished.  We are in the process now of  replacing the light fixture, mirror, faucet and floor (and maybe counter top later).  Also, now I need rugs, towels, new towel racks - it never ends!


Anonymous said...

Really nice. I love the black cabinet and will consider using it myself. Fortunately I have no wallpaper to remove.

Jenn said...

Wow, that bathroom cabinet looks amazing now!!

Thanks for the tips on wallpaper removal, I'm currently living in an older house and every wall is covered in wallpaper! Hope to remove the wallpaper soon =)

Bruce Glasscock said...

I'm doing this now. You didn't use steam, just the scraper?!