Once the floor was installed we started taking off trim, stripping wallpaper, and painting primer.  What?!?  Painting after the floor was installed?  Well, there was a little miscommunication – the hubby thought we were just putting in the new floor, but I couldn’t see making that big of a mess without just finishing the whole thing.

First up was removing that lovely country wallpaper we put up together in 1989. Thankfully it was the pre-pasted version so stripping it wasn’t too difficult.  Even though it’s out of date and no  longer stylish (stop giggling, it WAS a popular wallpaper in 1989), removing it was like removing a little piece of our history.  It’s strange taking down something the 28-year old me put up.

We covered the floor in two layers - lightweight boards taped together to protect the new flooring underneath and then a layer of plastic.

We covered the floor in two layers - lightweight boards taped together to protect the new flooring underneath and then a layer of plastic.

Hints and Tips for Removing Wallpaper Quickly and Easily

Before you get started with the wallpaper removal cover your floor with plastic – it’s about to get messy in here!  Have a large garbage can ready for the wallpaper pieces you pull off and put them in right away – this means less water on the floor, less mess, and you only handle the paper once and it’s gone instead of tossing it on the ground to have to pick it all up again.

We took off the wood trim,  but you don’t have to. We did because we’re replacing it later on in the project.  If you’re leaving your wood trim in place, you’ll likely need to score the paper with a box knife along the trim before wetting it if the trim was installed after the wallpaper was hung. If the wallpaper was added after the trim, no extra steps are needed to remove it. But how do you know? Try removing one corner of the wallpaper – if it comes off near the trim easily you’re good to go. If it lifts off below the trim but appears trapped under it, you’ll need to score it.

We're not taking any chances - two layers of protection for the new floor.

We're not taking any chances - two layers of protection for the new floor. The first layer of paper was pulled off and now we're scoring and wetting it.

If your paper is a vinyl paper (2 layers) you should be able to find a seam and easily pull off the top layer which holds the pattern.  You’re left with a yellow paper that’s glued to the wall and that’ s the bit that’s a little tougher to get off, but don’t worry – you can remove wallpaper, I promise!

We used an inexpensive wallpaper removal tool called a Zinsser PaperTiger Scoring Tool for Wallpaper Removal (2966) (found at most hardware stores) and spray bottle of warm water and it worked beautifully. At under $10, it’s a best buy and real time saver. Don’t press so hard that you leave scoring marks on the wall – use just enough pressure to get through the paper.  Light and easy!

We’ve tried using a steamer in the past and found that the PaperTiger and a spray bottle work better. We’ve also tried stripping chemicals and other options and all pale to plain water. Just keep the water very hot/warm and let the water soak into the holes you’ve made with the paper scorer to make removal easier.

Wallpaper glue reside left after stripping the wallpaper

Wallpaper glue reside left after stripping the wallpaper

Cleaning the Wallpaper Paste Residue After Wallpaper Removal

We did need to clean the excess wallpaper paste from the walls and we tried plain warm water but found it didn’t cut through it well enough.  While I wanted to continue trying green products, my burn-it-slash-it husband went the shortcut route and bought GAL TSP Substitute (aka TSP  Trisodium phosphate substitute).  It’s a heavy duty cleaner that can cut through some hairy messes, take the gloss off before painting, and remove anything that’s stuck, but it’s a last resort in my book.  Wear protective gear – masks and gloves – when working with it and even though it says you don’t have to rinse it, we did.

What can you use instead of TSP?  Luckily you can mix up your own less toxic product at home.  eHow provides a great list of recipes for safer wall cleaners on their website – Alternatives to TSP for Cleaning the Walls Before Painting – ingredients include washing soap, Borax, ammonia, lemon, vinegar, and dish washing soap.

Even in this messy state I can see our new calm oasis coming into focus and I’m loving it!

Next up:  Let the wall priming begin!


Previous DIY Master Bedroom Makeover Articles

Previous DIY Articles

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