How to remove old wallpaper easily {Bathroom Makeover}

Friday, March 23, 2012


My in-laws' guest bathroom needed a makeover. This is not a post about how quick and not messy the process was. I like reading people's blogs about how fast and easy it was...oh...just put on a layer of paint and half an hour later it looks amazing like in a magazine.

No...this took me about a week (granted I had a toddler on my hands AND the last two days of the project we found out we were moving to CO in TWO weeks). The wall paper removal took me a day, with lots of interruptions from the aforementioned toddler.

Let's proceed with some awesome BEFORE pictures:




Not bad -  a nice and clean bathroom. It was a bit dated and the wallpaper, cabinets and shower curtain have probably seen better days.

My first biggest challenge was THE WALLPAPER!!! I was dreading this first step. Why? Because a few years ago, my husband and I removed all the wallpaper from their first floor and it was sooo hard. We tried everything: special sprays, even rented a steamer, and eventually had to sand it all off. I am not sure what century we lived in and why we didn't google how to do it, but we just went with the recommendations of the Home Depot guys and they sucked.

This time around, I was armed with patience and ready to have the same challenges as before. Not so fast....honey. I googled it (like in Shopaholic when Isla Fischer says...yes...I googled) and found lots of good tips. A lot of them involved going and buying all kinds of nifty tools like a wall paper scorer. I did not want to go to the store and so I kept looking for home remedies. I decided to go with the fabric softener idea.

HOW I DID IT:

1. Take a large bucket and mix in equal parts warm water and fabric softener. I poured the mixture in a spray bottle (I had to pour out the leftover windex and rinse the bottle).



2. I thought I could just spray the wallpaper and then it will soften, and then I'd be able to just peel it off. Well, not really. Old wall-paper (in this case probably the '80s) has :
              - a vinyl top layer and no amount of anything will take that off
               -and a layer of kinda fuzzy wallpaper backing.

So, the best way is to peel off all of the vinyl. In most areas it all came off in strips. I did that until all that remained on the walls was the paper backing



3. I proceeded to spray the wall in sections and it was like a miracle - it all came off. The 2 pictures below show how easily it came off after I soaked it in the fabric softener mixture.


I only photographed the removal of a small section, before I figured out out I should just remove all the vinyl first. But you get the point.



3. Although it came off easily, it was still a time consuming activity. After a while, spraying was really hurting my hand, so I just poured my mixture into a paint tray and rolled with a paint roller. MUCH faster, but messier. Also, when you get close to outlets, turn the lights off. Because this bathroom doesn’t have any windows, it was completely dark, so I brought a table lamp that I plugged in the hallway outside the bathroom.

IMG_4225

After I was done taking off the wallpaper, I cleaned all the crap off the floor and wiped the walls with warm water and a sponge, to remove any glue residue and any left over fuzz. Vois-la!!! All ready for priming.

I really am super excited I found such an awesome way to remove old wall paper. Seriously, if you give it a try and you can see it come off this easily, come tell me and let’s have a happy dance together. If that is not the case…still come here and we can encourage you and find a different method. I do hope this is a helpful post and if you have any questions/comments/ or whatever…please do share.

Here's what the bathroom looks like after the makeover:


You can read about the rest of the transformation here

Hugs, 
Linking to these awesome parties.
Iuliana

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23 comments:

  1. Last time I got so frustrated that I took joint compound and just mudded over the whole walls which was actually kind of nice...looks old world with paint over it.

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  2. lol...I totally know how you feel. Next time, call me for help!

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  3. This is the first time visiting your blog and you have been so helpful with this posting.
    I tried this at once and it works like a dream! Thank you!

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    1. Elin, I am soo happy that it worked for you as well!!! And thank you for stopping by my little blog!

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  4. I just found your blog through Making It with Allie's link party! Removing wallpaper is on my to do list today, which I also despise! I've used the fabric softener trick before and love it...as much as you can love any part of this process! I've never tried rolling it on as you suggest, I might give it a try today! Glad I found your blog, can't wait to check it out more!

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    1. Let me know how the wallpaper removal went. Thank you for stopping by my blog.

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  5. I'm going to try this over the weekend...I have 50 year old wallpaper in my bathroom that HAS to go!!!! I hope this works!! Oh yeah, how long do you leave the mixture on before removing the wallpaper?? thank you!!! Debbie from Wisconsin

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    1. Hi Debbie. I left the mixture only for a few minutes. By the time I was done spraying all the way to the bottom, the top was ready to be peeled off. You don't want to leave it for too long, because it will dry out. You'll be able to see as the pictures show, that it is bubbling up in some places. Make sure you spray plenty or use a roller (faster and easier). Hope this helps.

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  6. Make sure that you remove the mixture off your wall by rinsing it and the wood around doors and windows or else your paint will not stick. This is from experience in an old house.

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    1. You are absolutely right. Like I mentioned in the tutorial, I made sure to clean everything really well.

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  7. Awesome post! Great tutorial! I would also love for you to link up to my Linky Party via http://ourdelightfulhome.blogspot.com/2012/04/live-linky-party-11.html

    Mrs. Delightful
    www.ourdelightfulhome.blogspot.com

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  8. Genius idea! I H-A-T-E removing wallpaper and we have a remodel project coming up. Thanks for sharing!!

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  9. I have been LOOKING for this online! (All I could find was 'desktop wallpaper" and irrelevant This Old House episodes!) Thank you!!

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  10. I've been trying to remove old wallpaper that is very heavy and has a fabric backing. I can't separate the vinyl from the fabric and I'm sure they used a clay paste to put it on! Also doesn't look like any sizing was used. I've tried just about everything including scoring and trying to dampen the vinyl to get behind the vinyl and it is still pulling off the top off the drywall. What a mess! Any ideas.

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  11. Wow I am going to try this - I told my self never again would I strip wallpaper but when I got an estimate to have it done - YIKES! So I will try your method - any particular fabric softner?

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    1. I used what I bad on hand, which was the cheapest brand from Aldi. There's no need for any fancy brand; just store brand is fine. Good luck on you wall paper removal party.

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    2. Iuliana:

      Does this also work with FOUR layers of wallpaper? Most of it from the seventies. Some vinyl some paper and others I can't even tell,' cause I can't get to them. Soooo frustrated.

      Lorna

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    3. Hi Lorna. I am not sure how this would work. I feel like maybe once you start the first layer, the rest will follow. It seems like you have your work cut out for you. Good luck!

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  12. Did you have wallpaper behind the mirror? Did you remove the mirror to get behind it?

    -g

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    1. I really don't remember if there was or was not wallpaper behind the mirror. I wasn't planning on having anything to do with removing the mirror, so I didn't.

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  13. My Dad and I spent about 8 hours try to remove 20+ year old wallpaper with a scorer and a steamer. It was the really old kind that had to be removed in two layers and I think we removed only 3 panels before we were defeated by overzealous gluing. I remembered seeing this method on pinterest, and I showed him your post and he decided to give it a try. Words can't really describe how much easier your method made things. We removed the remaining 6-7 panels in like two hours. They came off so easily we were basically peeling them off in small strips. Towards the end, we even forgot to score it and it still worked, but it did require more of the mixture and more scrapping. Thanks so much!
    P.S. I used the cheapest fabric softener that I could find at the Dollar Store. I think it was just $2.

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    1. Oh my goodness Krista, it makes me so happy that this worked for you. Seriously, comments like yours really make this whole blogging thing worth it.

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  14. I'm ready to try this on my 1983 wallpaper. Does the mixture have to be warmed up again once it goes cold? Thanks!

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