9 Tips for removing wallpaper

I’m going to say it. I hate wallpaper. It’s too permanent for my tastes. It’s hard to put on, it’s hard to take off. It dates a house after just a few years. The flipper house has two whole rooms of wallpaper. The dining room and family room. And the people who put it up were very good at it! Here’s my tips for removing wallpaper.

1 Buy a scoring tool. This tool is used to put tiny cuts into the paper so when you apply the water, steam, or chemical to the outside it can get between the paper and the wall to loosen the paper. We’ve had the red one, made by Zinsser, for about a dozen years. And it still works great! Now, we haven’t used it every year but we’ve used it about half a dozen times and it’s still cutting like new.

The orange one, made by WP Chomp, we bought for this job. It lasted about three swirls around. It was junk. We returned it. Spend the extra 12 cents and go with the Zinsser.

2 Buy a scraper. Previously I used a putty knife because I’m so cheap. This week the Mister went behind my back and bought a scraper. And boy am I glad he did. It had a more ergonomic handle than my old putty knife and my hands were very thankful.

3 Rent a steamer. I thought we could get by without one, remember, I’m a cheap skate. But I’m so glad we got our hands on one. It made our work go so much faster! To save on the time we had it, we used it just to get the outside layer off. Be careful with the steamer, follow all the directions carefully. It gets very HOT. I know, Mr. Obvious. 

4 Skip the chemicals and make your own remover solution. I mix hot water and cheap fabric softner together and put it in a spray bottle. I’ve seen some posts that use vinegar. Spray an area, wait about 4-5 minutes, then spray the next area and scrap the first area. Repeat. The recipe I use varies. Usually it’s 1:1 fabric softner and water. As I start to run out of softner the ratio shifts and it still works.



5 Use a drop cloth. Live and learn, you can see we didn’t. We left the tack strips in because we plan to install carpet in this room. It made a huge mess, and this picture was taken after I swept up!

6 Protect your trim. If you don’t cover it, be sure to wipe it down as you work. The water or chemicals can ruin it.

7 Protect yourself. One of my besties was over helping me and she took one look at the walls and said, “you have to wear rubber gloves.” Our walls are heavily tobacco stained. She sited a recent case of a man who was restoring a bar and ended up in the hospital with nicotine poisoning. She’s a doc so it wasn’t some fake news story she read somewhere. It was legit.

8 Speaking of besties. Ask your friends for help. It’s always more fun working with a team than alone. And believe it or not, pealing wallpaper can be somewhat soothing.




9 Gotta have the tunes playing. The old CD player filled the rooms with Michael Martin Murphey’s Cowboy Songs; Mary Mary’s The Sound; Don Henley’s Building the Perfect Beast; and a mix tape featuring old school Newsboys our son made for me. I ventured away from memory lane for a bit to treat my ears to some new AA Sound of the Saints. That’s an incredible record! Their title track features images from their trip to Haiti. It just touches my heart so much. I love and miss our Haitian family.  Perhaps I’ll more about that another time.

What tip did I leave out? I’d love to hear from you!





 

 

Ew, what’s that smell?

Pet urine, that’s what. It’s a good thing this blog isn’t Scratch ‘n’ Sniff, just sayin’.

The last family that lived in the flipper wasn’t, how do I put this politely?, um, they weren’t good about putting Rover and Spot out to do their business. Thankfully the seller ripped out most of the carpets before we bought it, but the smell still lingered.

So, first things first, cover the subfloors with Kilz. After covering the family and dining rooms with a good layer of the magical solution, the smell in the house got so much better. It was a big area, here’s a before picture.

I know what you’re thinking, we must keep that sexy wallpaper!

As you can see, it’s a big area and the house immediately smelled so much better! I was thinking, “maybe that’s the only place we have to worry about.” Um, no. When we walked into the kitchen, it smelled like we were walking into a kennel. Ugh.

We had to do something about the kitchen. Pronto! Stat! Fast! Now!

It had this fantastic laminate tile, at least I think it’s laminate, it might be vinyl, here, see for yourself.

I asked the Mister if we could do the kitchen floor next. I’d need him to help me get that tile up and out of there.

He said, “no, we have a master plan, it will have to wait.” So, wait I did, for FOUR WHOLE DAYS! Then, while the Mister was in the back of the house working on his custom-tiled, master shower, featuring Italian tile, I tossed our plan out the window. I had to get that nasty floor out of the kitchen.

Armed with my mask, a box cutter and a crowbar I pushed play on the CD player and the air filled with vintage Audio Adrenaline. Underdog was one of my first Christian records and is still one of my favorites. But I digress. Squirrel!

Anyway, while he was distracted, I went to work on that floor. Surely the smell couldn’t get any worse.




After I pulled the first two tiles up I couldn’t believe my eyes and nose. The smell got worse. The linoleum underneath was wet! Wet with pet urine! How long had that been trapped in there? Did I mention it was still wet? Ew, yuck, gag!

I was praying the urine hadn’t found a way through to the subfloor and those prayers were answered, whomever installed it did a great job! Our subfloors were safe from the damaging effects of the urine.

Removing the tiles and tearing up the linoleum was hard work but I persevered and I got most of it up. And, the Mister didn’t blink an eye when I enlisted him to help carry out the discarded floor. I think he knew I might not follow all the rules. Bless his heart.