January 05, 2006


Professor Purkinje used to like to talk about how he was lied to when he was young: "all my life I was told that science was really, really hard, and getting a girl pregnant was really, really easy. It turns out that science is really, really easy, and getting my wife pregnant was really, really hard."

Ditto on the getting pregnant part. Sheesh.

But the other thing I've been lied to about is wallpaper. For years people have told me that getting wallpaper off of walls is really, really hard. And not only is it easy, it's also rather fun.

All this floral crap on my walls is toast.

Posted by Attila Girl at January 5, 2006 01:46 PM | TrackBack

Huh. *I* coulda told you THAT!

Are you using a paper scraper? I bet so. That's one of those Tools that Makes a Difference.

You usually don't have to use solvents, either. Hot water works great. Cheaper, and no breathing in chemicals and dealing with gross cleanups.

Wipe on the hot water with one of those sponge mops - you can do a whole wall in less than two minutes. Let it sit 10 minutes or so, then pull up a corner. Lots of it won't even need any scraper at all.

It's kind of like getting the labels off of glass jars. The glue they used makes the most difference in ease of removal. But often, jsut soaking it does the trick.

And talk about satisfying! Lovely clean pure walls. You get to do Throwaways of the Old Junk. Then a blank canvas awaits your artistry.

Posted by: k at January 5, 2006 06:01 PM

You're more likely to have a problem when the house is quite old and the wall paper is many-layered. Go for it.

Posted by: John Enright at January 5, 2006 08:53 PM

You were lucky! The previous owner prepped the walls correctly. probably used sizing or primer beforehand, and used a modern paper with no additional adhesive. One day you will meet an old house with real, old, plaster walls. And someone who didn't follow directions... or listened to his brother-in-law. The adhesive won't be water soluble and you'll have to score it and find a suitable solvent. And plaster will break away from the wall. And you'll finally decide that a complete tear-out (of the walls) is the only possible course of action. And you'll have to hide your firearms.

For most modern cases, a gentle scoring and a little steam do the trick.

Posted by: Darrell at January 5, 2006 08:59 PM

That's because you are dealing with "modern" strippable wallpaper (around since at least the '70s.

Try stripping wallpaper from an old victorian - paper that was put up with wheat paste.

Posted by: Zendo Deb at January 5, 2006 10:41 PM


Posted by: maggie katzen at January 5, 2006 11:11 PM

There seem to be three layers: 1) the paper itself, which comes right up; 2) a sort of "underlayer" of paper that needs to be wetted, scored and scraped; 3) the stubborn glue, which is also water soluble.

The goal is to get a section all around the edges of the room completely clean tomorrow, so I can put up sample patches of the two paint colors I want to use. And that way we can see them in a few different types of light before finalizing our decision.

But I need a third color, for the trim. I'm considering something daring, like cobalt blue or cranberry. (The main color is a sort of sage, with tan accents.)

Posted by: Attila Girl at January 6, 2006 01:40 AM

I feel for you. I tackled such a project a few years ago. May I recommend a putty knife? It requires a deft touch, but it does remove the paper pretty nicely...

Posted by: caltechgirl at January 9, 2006 02:02 PM

Well, I got the Spartan model of wallpaper scraper, and it's just a smidge wider than a conventional putty knife. I might need the knife for those corners, though.

Posted by: Attila Girl at January 9, 2006 04:01 PM


I just LOVE cranberries. Last night I finally polished off the rest of my homemade cranberry sauce.

Your blog always makes me hungry.

Posted by: k at January 9, 2006 05:47 PM

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