Big Time Suck

More often than not, I enjoy having a project to work on.  Using my hands, working, creating something that I can (hopefully) be proud of once finished.  Then there are times that totally suck the life out of me.  Removing wall paper that has three coats of paint over is exactly one of those times.  Throughout my 10 hour removal process, I cursed the previous owners for a) putting up this dreaded wall paper and b) painting over it and not removing before.


Using a wide metal spatula, I was able to get most of the paint and paper off, leaving the glue behind.  See how lovely the pattern was?


In a few areas, before painting over the paper, someone spackled over low spots.  Please, I beg you, never paint over wall paper.  Certainly don’t patch areas on top either.  It’s not good.


With hot tap water, I was able to scrape most of the glue backing off easily.   The process left the walls looking like this:


More spots than a dalmatian.  Why did I torture myself?  Because I’ve decided I don’t want to add wood on this wall.  And we need to texture the walls with orange peel (unfortunately, to match the other two) before trimming out the door.  Hence the scraping marathon and my claw hands.  On a more positive note, every window in the house has been replaced.  Now we’re in the process of casing and trimming everything.  I’ve got three windows completely finished.


To match the other windows and doors, we painted the wood accent wall trim white.  I really love the contrast between the two.


Our bathroom window is done, now I have to go back and touch up the wall paint.  A walk in the park compared to the scraping.


After a summer of outside work, it’s nice to get some things done inside, too.  Now to clear out our bedroom so I can start scraping popcorn off the ceiling.

Because misery loves company, feel free to share your worst wall paper experience.

17 thoughts on “Big Time Suck

  1. When we moved into our current home in 2006, nearly every room was wallpapered in 80’s wallpaper. I was determined to get it all off and it was the worst job ever! Somewhere along the way, as I was whining about it to a friend, he told me to try TSP. Bought it at a hardware store, mixed it up with water in a spray bottle, and voila! the paper came off. It was still a mess, but it was so much easier than any other method I’d tried. Not sure how it would work with the paint on top of the paper…but the scoring SHOULD go right through the paint and the paper, I’d think. Good luck…I swore when I got it all off (and my husband issued the decree) that I’d NEVER wallpaper anything again in my life. And now really cool wallpapers are making a comeback! haha, figures! But now, at least, it’s okay to just wallpaper ONE WALL of a room instead of the whole kit n kaboodle!

    1. Hi 3littlehops!

      Ugh, that’s the WORST!! We lucked out and only had two rooms here, but there’s evidence (mainly behind outlet covers) that most rooms were originally wall papered. I’ve never heard to use TSP. I’ll have to remember that next time. I too have vowed to never have wall paper. Though a stenciled wall could be really fun…


  2. I can sympathize with the wallpaper. I was in the same boat as 3littlehops, and the house we bought had wallpaper in EVERY room. I took it all off at once – it was horrific and I have also vowed to never use wallpaper in my house.

    On a different note, have you finished the outside yet? Did I miss that post? Or is it still a work in progress? If it’s not done, is it something you need to get done before winter hits or can it wait till spring?

    1. Hello Tanja!

      Oh I’m so sorry you had to deal with all that wall paper.

      We’re actually waiting on our steel order to come in. Otherwise, we’re as done as we can be this year. Ideally we’ll get the steel on before winter, but it’s probably not a huge deal if it has to wait. 🙂 I plan to share more once we’ve wrapped thing up.


  3. Bought a 60’s house in 2003. 2400 sq feet and ALL of it was wallpapered. In my daughters room there was blue paint, 3 layers of wallpaper, and paint over that. Wallpaper on the ceiling of that room too. my entire family scraped and steamed for 2 weeks just to get the upstairs ready to paint. I never did get the downstairs done. I hate wallpaper.

  4. No doubt about it, some home improvement jobs just suck. In the end, though, it will all be worth it and you will be able to give yourself a great big pat on the back and an “atta girl!” I don’t have any miserable wallpaper removal stories to share, but the previous owners had decided to spray the ENTIRE HOUSE (wall AND ceilings) with “knock down” texture. Only problem? They forgot to KNOCK IT DOWN. Ugh. it looks AWFUL! So, we will be having to scrape every single wall, skim coat, prime, and paint. I’ll probably be feeling just like you, claw hand and all. Haha!

    1. Hey Hevel House!

      Ugh, I loathe textured walls, but that really sucks! For that much space, I wonder how much it would cost to have a sheetrock guy/crew tackle the job? Might be worth it… Good luck!!


  5. I had a house with that country blue with ducks and stuff in the guest bathroom-laundry room-hall-wet bar area-breakfast room AND kitchen. I have taken wall paper down, no big deal. Well, this was glued straight to the sheetrock. It was horrible. Of course, the only house I have owned with 9 foot ceilings. I used all kinds of strippers and scrapers and a scorer and basically destroyed the sheetrock, took the sheet and left the rock. I ended up having to have large areas refloated by a sheetrock guy. So expensive. If I had it to do over, I would have primed and painted it and someone else would be cussing me now!

    1. Hi Nancy!

      Geez, that’s rough! for the life of me, I don’t know why someone would wallpaper directly on sheetrock. Worst idea! I’m so sorry you had to deal with someone else’s mistakes.


  6. Oh, my. I just realized you guys dropped out of my feedly after August. I have a lot of catching up to do!! It looks like a blog name change? Hope all is well.

    1. Hi Sarah!

      I’ve had a few people say they had issues, too. I’m not sure what happened in Feedly that it dropped off because we changed the name over 2 years ago… If you add us again, does it work? I’ve looked into it but didn’t see anything that I can change.


  7. I just took off some wallpaper I installed myself and it was so easy. Found a corner and peeled in all off in just a few minutes. I’m still working to build up the courage to tackle the wallpaper in our bathroom installed in the ’80s. Good luck and I love all that beautiful light coming in your bedroom in these photos!

    1. Hi Jennifer!

      I’m glad to hear new wallpaper isn’t the same! In this house, getting the decorative paper layer off first makes glue removal easier. Two steps, but my walls aren’t in awful shape. The kitchen went a lot better than our room. The bright light makes me want to go dark again. 🙂


  8. I bought a fixer-upper with ’80’s vinyl country wallpaper everywhere. The kitchen print had apple bushels that looked more like little hamburgers on navy and white circus stripes. Every single room had at least a wallpaper border around the top – making the ceilings seem shorter, even in semi-vaulted rooms! Dark, dumb, country wallpaper. All installed directly to the drywall – no primer. I just knew that all this place needed was some light, bright paint! So I tried everything: steaming, fabric softener, vinegar, TSP, scoring, scraping, scraping, scraping. The vinyl wouldn’t come off clean (tiny strips), the paper backing wouldn’t come off clean (tiny clumps), the glue wouldn’t come off clean (bonded to the drywall paper). The scorer left holes in the drywall. The scraper gouged into the drywall paper and ultimately ripped that off. I ruined every last piece of drywall in the house and ended up having to skimcoat everything before priming/painting and crossing my fingers before selling. If I would have kept the place, I would have put up new drywall or planked every surface in the place (they had painted-over stomp-textured ceilings too, ugh I couldn’t even deal).

    1. Hi GG!

      Ha, love your description of the paper. I’m certain I’ve seen the same thing. Seriously, what’s with people putting paper directly on sheetrock?! We planked the one wall in our bedroom because it too has painted paper. But I didn’t want it to be our only option. Does your current house have wall paper anywhere? After your experience, I don’t think I’d consider a house with paper…


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