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March 6, 2007

Discussing wall paper stripping technique

Not only do I traumatize my son by yelling at him on his birthday. I also force him to sleep in a bedroom with flowered wallpaper for almost four years.

At least we are calling it wallpaper. It has the texture of contact paper. And given the other things that were done to this house, like pink velour fabric glued to the dining room walls, contact paper as wallpaper would not surprise me in the least.

I am not sure there is enough therapy to undo all the damage I have inflicted upon him.


I am not sure that there are words to explain how much I hate stripping wallpaper. Tedious, mind-numbing, rage invoking, all come to mind but are hardly adequate. Even when strung together with expletives in between.

Melissa does a pretty good job of expressing the wall paper stripping hatred. We seem to be living paralell home renovation lives recently, though her house is almost done. And mine, well, let’s just say some days I look around and think I will die here. Possibly of wallpaper stripping fumes.

Posted by Chris @ 9:50 am  

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  1. Chickadee says:

    Heh. My mother-in-law is big into decorating and redecorating rooms and wallpapering is something she loves to hate. She gets frustrated with it, but still does it. In fact, she will not allow anyone in the house when she does it because she will blow up when she gets frustrated when pulling down or putting the stuff up.

  2. wyliekat says:

    Delurking after having recently found (and enjoyed your blog).

    We had some horrific wallpaper removal work to do in our house, too. Best thing in the world for it is one of those little disc wallpaper cutters (you can get one at any hardware store) and a fifty-fifty mix of water and Downy fabric softener in a spray bottle. You pretty much have to soak the stuff, but ones you do, it peels off like it wasn’t even there.

  3. Tuesday says:

    My steamer really helped me to peel off wallpapaer in one of our rooms. No fues, no mess.

    I highly suggest it! HTH

  4. Keith says:

    In the house my wife and I are remodeling, the previous owners decided to paint over the wallpaper……


    I can sympathize.

  5. Woman with Kids says:

    Perhaps at some point your house was on one of the decorating/make over shows… They always seem to hot glue feathers on the walls or cover them with fabric they got on sale for 5 cents a square mile.

  6. peepnroosmom says:

    I dislike wallpaper for that very reason. Don’t feel bad. Peep had to sleep in his “nursery decorated” room of baby animals until he was 8 or something. I just never got around to changing it.

  7. Julia says:

    Another delurker here…I love your blog, I even found a friend through your blog!
    No words can express how much I hate stripping wallpaper, in Russia, where I grew up, wallpaper was a favorite way of decorating. Since it would fade very fast, wallpaper stripping had to happen every few years…

  8. Lorraine says:

    I just had to remove the wallpaper in my kitchen. May I suggest a Shark Steamer?? Steam a small area of the wall, then scrape away. you may have to go over each area twice, once to remove the paper, once to remove the glue.

    another useful technique, boiling hot water and a mop. use the mop to apply the hot water to the wallpaper, then scrape away. not as effective as the steamer, but chances are you already have a mop.

    but dude… the steamer is soo totally worth the 100$. there are so many things you can clean with the steamer. I love my steamer. It has worked wonders for cleaning out the filth left behind by the previous owners of my nice new house.

  9. The Lazy Organizer says:

    Luckily I have never had to do this. I think my prefered method would be ripping down the sheet rock and installing new. Or moving. That sounds easier too.

  10. bgirl says:

    Okay, even though the blogosphere is knee-deep in people removing bad wallpaper…I’m actually going to be hanging some in the next few weeks. I love it! There are some remarkable new patterns that I can’t resist. So, apparently in four years, I will just copy and paste your and Melissa’s posts when I’m super angry that I ever thought papering was a grand idea.

  11. Steph says:

    I second the Downy and hot water in a spray bottle. It works very well– and smells great. Actually, if it’s a big room you may never want to smell Downy again as it brings back wall paper stripping memories, which are never good. I also like the idea of ripping down the drywall, that seems easier sometimes!
    Good luck.

  12. Izzy says:

    I actually refused to buy a house I really liked because it had ugly wallpaper on nearly every wall in the house and I couldn’t see myself spending the next 6 months removing it all.

  13. kris says:

    Pink velour fabric on the walls . . . your home sounds like it may have fallen victim to Hilde of Trading Spaces fame. At least it wasn’t her famous Wall of Hay . . .

  14. Sara says:

    Gak! I have stripped wallpaper and painted-over wallpaper and I feel your pain. Especially when the paper comes off in slivers. I hate that. Good luck to you. I’m sending sympathy vibes your way.

  15. Colleen says:

    I just posted about this same topic this morning. I hate it, but since we’re getting our house ready to sell, I’ve got to do it. There just isn’t enough beer in the free world to make it enjoyable.

  16. cce says:

    All is right with the world..there are other people out there hating their home renovation projects as much as I am.
    When we remove the wallpaper in our house, the horsehair plaster comes down with it. This is not something we anticipated when we bought this Fixer-Upper b/c we were hoping to do the fixing up ourselves. Skim coating is beyond my expertise…
    Living With Old Wallpaper, Kinda of Shabby Chic if you ask me, but that’s just me coping with the reality of this disaster.

  17. Julie Q. says:

    Who got to decide that flowers are feminine anyway? Maybe he’ll grow up to be one of those amazingly rare sensitive husbands who buys roses for his wife out of the blue. He may also grow up with a strange aversion to flaming cakes, but who’s to say that’s your fault?

  18. jm says:

    Nthing the wallpaper steamer (I rented one) and the Paper Tiger. Roar!


  19. Jennifer says:

    Vinegar and water worked really well for us and we just finished stripping hideous 1971 floral paper from our dining room. Good luck!


  20. Kristi says:

    Just rip out the drywall and replace it with new. Seems like it would be less painful.

  21. Suburban Turmoil says:

    I can’t even imagine. We’re far from rich, but my husband and I just save up for a while and pay someone else to do that shizzle rather than attempt it ourselves.

    You are a brave woman!

  22. cole says:

    Do you have one of those little toothed wheels that you run across the paper and it breaks it up? I can’t recall what they are called…oh well.

    If he has to help strip…is he gonna pick the color? I vote for a mural on one wall….his design. My husbands great/great gran use to paint a new mural in her dinning room and living room every year. Sounds kinda cool? To make it less messy, you can use your finger print to make pictures (look up Chuck Close for the expert person….). Just adding fuel to the fire. ha.

  23. Me says:

    1. That IS shelf lining contact paper. I remember the pattern.
    2. Last week in the NY Times Home section on renovation, one couple said they had better results using a water bottle and an iron on wallpaper than using a steamer, FWIW.

  24. Jen says:

    Our kitchen was wallpapered … geese everywhere. Large geese. A futile attempt to strip it that resulted in wallboard coming off along with the paper because it had never been painted, ended in my painting over it. Yes, you read that correctly. I chose to paint wallpaper. The shame. However, a little oil based primer and a couple coats of paint later and no one would ever know. So much easier. Did I mention there were geese??

  25. Liz in Australia says:

    Jen, our kitchen is wallpapered too. It’s the only room in the house that isn’t painted. WHY wallpaper your KITCHEN? But at least we don’t have geese on ours. Just grease.

  26. ben says:

    I have been known to sell a house and move rather than remove wallpaper.

    Not always the most practical choice, but there you are.

  27. rachel says:

    your stories are making me so happy to be a renter. seriously. *twitch twitch*

    Have I told you that BG ended up being sent away from her friends at a birthday party because of a meltdown? I’m wiling to share the “bad mom” crown with you.

  28. sarah says:

    My mother wallpapered the lounge room and laundry room….ceilings! The walls were painted. It was um….odd to say the least. And a bugger to get off.

  29. Suzanne says:

    Hah! We had contact paper on all our kitchen walls. Wallpaper on every other wall in our (built in 1909) house, and the ceiling as well in two rooms. I share your wallpaper stripping hate. I swear I will never again buy a house with this much wallpaper.

  30. Suzanne says:

    Oh, I need to add: A huge part of the problem of stripping wallpaper in an old house is it’s usually not just one layer of paper. In our house there was layer upon layer of painted-over wallpaper. Pulling off the wallpaper would result in patches of wall with various layers of painted wallpaper exposed, down to the original plaster. So it’s either scrape to the plaster or plaster over the patches. UGH!

  31. Meg's Mom says:

    Perhaps this works the same as the Downy, but using a dishwasher rinse agent mixed with hot water and sprayed on the paper will take off the paper and glue with minimal effort. It’s worth the try.

  32. Melanie says:

    I’m jealous, if that’s not weird. I live in an apartment, so I’d LOVE to be redecorating right now instead of living in white walled hell. My husband loves to strip wallpaper. How weird is that? He spent days upon days a few years ago stripping the wallpaper of a house he lived in when we first met. He was also off his meds, then, though.

  33. Jenny says:

    Delurking to add my £.02. My 100 year old house in London had every surface wallpapered and I removed it all myself. The horror.
    Started with a steamer and scraper but my builder recommended just soaking the paper with plain water and big sponge. I swore it wouldn’t work, but it came off perfectly - in sheets! But you really have to soak it and let it sit. Do the whole wall, and then come back round to test the first sheet. I was working with bare plaster underneath, but presume it would work for sheetrock/plaster board. Good luck!!

  34. Rebekah says:

    I have been reading and loving your blog for some time now! You have an awesome sense of humor! I hope you don’t mind my peaking! Rebekah

  35. Mama T. says:

    Wallpaper is evil. A border is the closest thing I’ll ever come to wallpaper.