Wallpaper Take Down

2 Materials
2 Days
Medium

My first time at removing wallpaper! I searched on YouTube and the Internet and asked questions of friends. I borrowed a steamer from a friend who had removed wallpaper and who told me how easy a job it was to do! Got off to a rocky start with missing parts to the steamer so while waiting on those I started peeling my wallpaper off. It came off in sheets because it was heavy vinyl-like paper. Geez, I could use it as a tarp on the floor it was that thick. I took off all the baseboards because I will be painting and adding crown molding.

I covered the wall outlets in case water dripped down. I did not have a problem with this technique. The steamer will not reach around the area so I will do those areas last. Also use tarps to catch water on the floor. There will be drips from the hose/steamer. Have a towel handy to wipe up any water that gets underneath the edge of the tarp (it will). Note: that hole you see on the bottom left? That happened when the baseboard was pulled off. Way too big finishing nails were used. Be careful when you remove your baseboards!

This is what the majority of the walls looked like once stripped of the paper. Copious amounts of glue. Now imagine yourself up on a ladder scraping this glue. Where do you put the glue? Some of it falls to the floor but most sticks to ...your fingers, your tool; whatever it touches. One video used a wet shop vac to squeegee the glue off. I ask you, how would you clean the shop vac? No mention of that so I avoided that idea.

I used a bowl and a bucket and kept scraping my tool. When you are holding a steamer in one hand and a tool in the other it is very hard to scrape off glue. This bowl of goo is from my second swipe. My first go-round looked just like cookie dough! Glue ended up all over the ladder as well as the steamer hose. Since I am doing this by myself I couldn't hand off the steamer and you want to keep going while you have steam.

See this nice hole in my dry wall? A picture had been hanging there but when I steamed and used a metal scraper the scraper caught in that slight indentation and gouged the wall. This happened several times until I took the advice on one of the videos. Lots of bad words screamed whenever this happened and it happened a lot!

I started using a credit card or in my case my old casino card. No more gouging. Almost impossible. The card will get stuck but it won't do damage like a metal tool. I also could rub back and forth and get so much more glue off with this neat idea. No more screaming!

I would not advise using this.

This is the steamer I used. About 3/4 way through this project the steamer quit steaming! It has a thermal fuse that is supposed to shut the unit off if it overheats or runs out of water. Pretty sure I was careful on the water level. You get almost 1.3 hours worth of steam. You don't get very far in that amount of time as this procedure takes a long frustrating time to do but I would rather do it this way instead of changing out buckets of water and rags. The water has to be hot in order to melt the glue. Oh, this is such an awful process!

When the steamer quit on me I remembered I had a small clothes steamer and I thought maybe I could finish up with it. It was working but it was going to take even longer to do.

What was I thinking? No comparison! I went to Home Depot and bought another steamer (same brand $50). Well worth the time and money. I went over the walls a second time with the steamer and still was getting glue off. The reason I did this is because after spending $35 for a gallon of paint I'm not taking any chances of compromising the paint adherence. The walls will get a wipe down as well before I paint.

I can use the smaller steamer to go around the outlets. I also used oil eater on the wall to see if it would cut the glue and it did.

Also be aware if you don't clean up the glue (you will be tired) this is what you will be left to deal with. This glue is stuck like cement. I used the steamer to loosen it and the oil eater. It was really glued to the wood (still doing its job after 30 years). Repainting the trim as well but just be aware to wipe stray glue off. Also be aware that you should have two pair of shoes. One pair you wear while you are working on the walls and another pair to put on when you leave the room! Glue was adhered to my shoes as well!!

Hope this helps anyone taking down wallpaper and they find a helpful "clue to deal with glue".

Suggested materials:

  • Wallpaper steamer   (Home Depot)
  • Plastic credit card

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