It Started With a Four Year Old

Last night, V and I had an impromptu wallpaper removal party.  And he sent me the invite.  Over the past few days, V had been slowly working on peeling wallpaper from the small area under my desk.  Once he got that off the wall, he turned his attention to the small area by the breakfast nook window.  Because I’m a good mom hate the wallpaper, I joined him.

Ben thought we were crazy, but didn’t object.  Fortunately, it peeled off easily.  Well, the design part peeled off easily.  The paper split, leaving the glued paper on the walls.  In many places, full sheets of the patterned parts came off quickly.  And in about an hour, we had all the ugly blue paper off the walls in the kitchen and office.


I’m happy to see the kitchen lighter and brighter, but I know it’ll be a complete pain to tear off the glued paper parts.

Lucky for me, I can work on this when I’m in the mood.  Hmmm, how often is one in the mood to remove wallpaper?  I guess we’ll find out.

For now, we’ve got a mock Tuscan look going on.

But I guess the crazy blue wallpaper wasn’t all bad.  Now the crazy things the previous owner did are completely obvious.  Like these five(!) nails randomly above the kitchen window.

And three more above the breakfast nook window, because, you know, everything is better in odd numbers.

My office has a few issues, too.

Like a wall full of pin holes.  Seriously, a little cork would have been better than this:

Gah, I love wallpaper…NOT!  Well, at least I’ve got time to work on it.  Anyone know an easy way to get the paper off without further damaging the walls?  Raise your hand if you want to come over and help.  Ah ha, I see you in the back.  Come on, I’ll feed you and provide the booze after.

35 thoughts on “It Started With a Four Year Old

  1. Actually the glued part isn’t so bad! If you spray with a water bottle, let sit for a minute or two and scrap off with a paint scraper (get the widest one you can!) it should come off easily. I love to see wallpaper come down…I’ve taken down a bunch in my life, and am not going to jump on the new wallpaper fad anytime soon!
    Good luck!

  2. Plain hot water worked best for me. We literally sprayed and scraped our’s off last summer. I bought all of the removing products but the hot water was the most effective. I also bought a scorer for punching holes to allow the water to penetrate, but I see you already have those. We were really lucky that most of it peeled off in sheets like the top but stubborn places took forever.

    Also, there probably isn’t enough wine in the world for me to do it again. 😛 I am pretty jealous that Vincent could do it though! My grownup boy complained the entire time!

  3. You are lucky the top layer came off so easily! As long as there is a coat of paint between the wallpaper and the drywall the rest will come off quite painlessly. All you need is a comfortable spray bottle or a clean garden sprayer (since you have so much square footage to cover), hot water and any cheap liquid fabric softener. Mix equal parts hot water & fabric softener, spray onto walls and leave for about 10 minutes. Test with a putty knife or any flat scraper tool to see if it is loose enough to remove, if it is then scrape away but if not give it another coat and wait 5 more minutes. Once you have all of the gluey bits removed make sure to wash your walls well to remove all of the softener before you prime. No crazy chemicals and no bad smells! So safe and easy your little helper can do it!

  4. TSP – tri-sodium phosphate. Buy it at a hardware store…mix a half cup (+/-) with a spray bottle full of warm water…score the paper and then spray, soaking the paper. After about two minutes, scrape off with a plastic putty knife. Messy but the easiest way to get the paper off! After you’ve gotten it all off, it’s a good idea to wipe the walls down (really well!) with a wet rag to prevent streaks showing through your paint.

  5. I tried Dif and got iffy results. Downy and warm water in a spray bottle worked the best for me. You don’t even have to score. I used a plastic putty knife to help remove to avoid further damage.

  6. We diluted liquid fabric softener with water to remove some well glued paper in our kitchen (I did “such a great job” when I put it up 24 years ago that my husband felt bad about tearing it off!). I think I found that idea and “recipe” online when I googled “how to remove wallpaper”, but if plain old hot water will do it – that would be simpler! We also rolled a tool over the paper that made little holes so the liquid would soak in better. Good luck – it will be worth all the work. That’s so cool that Vincent got into it!

  7. Hello Amanda 🙂 Spray or sponge with water and go over it with a blow dryer. The paper separates itself from the wall and comes right off. I’ve used this method before and it worked well. I’m sure you can Google articles for more specific instructions. We (by “we” I mean my husband, haha) have removed wallpaper recently, but from plaster walls and it is much more tedious than removing it from sheet rock, which is what I am assuming you have. “We” have been using water and vinegar in a spray bottle and a scraper to get old wallpaper glue off the wall. Good luck!

  8. Like Debi, I diluted liquid fabric softner (Wal-mart’s GV Orange scented) after scoring the paper with the “tooth monster” which is the tool that makes pinpricks in the paper. My 4-y.o. grandson loved doing that part. A lot of work, but definitely worth it (and I do like wallpaper; just not UGLY wallpaper!)

  9. lots of good suggestions – but i will add to them but saying that you should spend a few bucks and rent a steamer. it will make the job so much easier and faster! your son would probably love using it too.
    i’ve removed a lot of wall paper using the hot water, soap, etc. method. all worked but when i finally smartened up and borrowed a friend’s steamer, i was so thrilled at how fast the job got done (and you wont have slimey water dripping all down your walls, baseboards, and floors!)

    good luck!!!

    1. I second the steamer. I used my garment steamer and it worked like a charm. My husband’s friends were helping us and they got so into using it.

    2. I HIGHLY recommend the steamer route. I had a 2800 sq ft house covered in nasty wallpaper and the steamer made my life so much easier!

  10. I have removed several rooms of stinky wallpaper… what worked best for me was hot hot water in a spray bottle with downy in it! and it smells wonderful too!! Spray it on the walls and let sit and it should peel off with a putty knife.

  11. I can’t add anything more… the above suggestions work wonders. I’ve removed a lot of wallpaper in my day as well, and have always used the spray water bottle and wide putty knife. I DO love wallpaper (the patterns “I” pick out myself)… if it weren’t so derned expensive, I’d have at least ‘some’ in every room!

  12. I used a wall paper spray remover and a paint scraper to get rid of the left over residue. Worked like a charm! Yours appears to be in sheets though, while mine was more in spots. I also had to score the larger areas to allow the spray to work in. I am not sure what scoring would do to your walls?? Mine walls are wood planking so I didn’t have to worry about scratching. You can check out my blog to see the brand of wall paper removal and what I mean by “spots” of wall paper. Good luck!!!! I totally feel your pain

  13. The glue isn’t as bad as you think. I also vote for the spray bottle of water. I started with warm but it came off just as well with room temp water. Just soak it really good (until you see drips) and go to town with a putty knife. I had a metal one as well as a plastic knife… the metal worked the best, but I had to be careful I didn’t ding the drywall. As much as I hated it, it was so satisfying getting pulling it all off.

  14. I would bet cold hard cash there was a collection of baskets hanging in that kitchen back in the ’80s!

    Whatever you do, don’t use one of those “scorer” tools for removing wallpaper. I learned the hard way & wound up with a ton of tiny holes in my wall that all had to be spackled.

  15. Since you already got the top layer off, do what most of the others have suggested, water and a scraper. Absolutely don’t use the paper scorer as that will just leave holes in your sheetrock. And a steamer is overkill. You only need those things if the top layer is still in place!

  16. I had to remove a lot of wallpaper borders that were really stuck on there in our house. Downy worked okay at first, but the best thing for the stubborn bits (a lot of them) was using my mom’s travel garment steamer – wish I had used that from the beginning.

  17. Another vote for hot water mixed with vinegar in a spray bottle with a paint scrapper. Like many others, I would suggest spraying the water onto the paper backing and then sponging it into place (no need for a scorer). I had great success with this method. Good luck!

  18. Did you say booze? I’m there! I must say I’m so happy that your wallpaper came off easier than the floral wallpaper border (gag) that the previous owners had in one of the bathrooms here. With scraping and steaming and scoring, it took my Mom and I almost an entire night. I like the idea of wallpaper and I’ve seen so many beautiful ones, but for me it is like a tattoo, I know I would change my mind eventually, and it is a pain to remove.

  19. I have removed a LOT of wall paper in my life, and tried all the “best” ways to do it. The only method that works: fill a spray bottle with hot water and fabric softner. Spray it all over, wait a bit, spray it again, wait a bit, spray it again, and it should just slide off with a putty knife. The kitchen looks a lot better w/o the paper!

  20. Spray bottle of vinegar water, lightly warmed. Spray an area thoroughly and let it soak in for a few minutes, then it will just fall away.

  21. Hello there,
    like everybody else before, i would say “water…” but depending on the quality of the paper, (thickness, embossing etc) and the type and amount of glue used by the perp, the easiest way i found not to get crazy and frustrated is the Steamer! It’s fast, easy, and added bonus, it’s good for the skin! you get a day at the spa, a workout (great way to tone your arms…) and a better/after très satisfying (Yes i’m french and we do put très everywhere!!!) oh and also it’s fun with kids too! So, good luck, and rest assured i would come and offer to help if i didn’t have to cross an ocean and half a continent to where you are!
    Sorry if mistakes have slipped in here somewhere, blame it on the autocorrect!

  22. We used vinegar or fabri softener mixed with water and either scored or didn’t and it still worked!! Just have to say I LoVE following your blog!! I used to live there and we had friends in your neighborhood so i remember that house! Anything by the rims is gorgeous!!! Thank you for all your awesome tips and giving me a weekly dose of where I consider home!!!

  23. Just a comment on the nails above the windows…I am betting they had some decorative plates hanging on those!

    I used vinegar and water in a garden sprayer. I will NEVER have wallpaper in a house that I have to remove it from again

  24. Hello everyone!

    Thanks so much for the awesome suggestions! Fortunately, the glued backing is coming off easily with a spray bottle of water and metal scraper. I’m almost done, just have the parts above the deep cabinets that I can’t easily reach. 🙂


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