Wallpaper – Ugh!

Have I ever mentioned how much I detest wallpaper?  When my parents moved into their current house I was 6 years old and my mom allowed me to help decorate my room.  I picked wallpaper.  Lots of wallpaper.  When I was in 11th grade I decided to rip down the wallpaper (I will have to find a picture).  All four walls of my room were completely covered in wallpaper.  After removing it all, I decided that I would never do wallpaper in my home.  At the time I didn’t really consider border wallpaper real wallpaper.

I used border wallpaper in my sons’ room when he was younger.  I painted below the border and while I loved how it looked, I didn’t realize that there would be a line from the paint that I would have to deal with later.  I also learned that you should prime your walls before you put a border up.  Otherwise your wallpaper can have a tendency to pull off the paper of your drywall (you can imagine how I found that out).

Now we have a new place that we are updating.  The lovely couple that lived in the home put borders way up next to the popcorn ceilings in four rooms and a bathroom.  I have never liked popcorn ceilings as I feel they absorb the light instead of reflecting it around a room.  I will be dealing with the ceilings after I finish getting off the border.  Since the border abuts the ceiling it’s a bit more difficult to remove.

I have learned to wear gloves.  Popcorn ceilings will tear your hands up if you don’t.  I wasn’t thinking when I started this project and didn’t bring gloves with me.  Since the new place is an hour and a half from home I just dealt with it. You can bet I will have them next time I head out.  Here is a list of what I use to take off wallpaper borders.

  • Large bucket (large enough to fit my mop in it)
  • Mop (and a replacement head) – Mine is similar to this one.  I like the roller mops but you can also use this.
  • Scrubber sponge
  • Wallpaper scorer
  • 4″ Putty knife – either plastic or metal. I used metal but I have read that some people feel you damage the walls easier.
  • Gloves – optional
  • Step ladder – Size of the ladder is up to you.  Mine has two steps.

First move everything off and away from the walls.  You don’t want the paste from the wallpaper to get on anything (especially fabric).  Take your scorer and gently score your wall paper.  If you push too hard you will mark the walls (and yes, I have done this).  If you push too far over the edge of the wallpaper you will mark the walls (and yes, I have done this too).  I like to have lots of score marks.  The more marks, the easier it is to have water penetrate to the glue and loosen it up.  However, the more marks you have, the easier it is to mark the walls. So, don’t have too many or too few score lines (how’s that for not being specific).

Once your done scoring all the paper, fill a bucket with hot water.  Get your mop wet and wipe it over the wall paper.  Depending on your wallpaper (acrylic or paper) you will see some water absorb a bit into the paper.  I like to go around my entire area twice to make sure it has absorbed enough water.  Then take your putty knife and scrape up an edge of the wallpaper.  I then gently pull on the paper with one hand while scraping with the other.  If you find the water hasn’t soaked through you may need to score the paper more.

Once I have gotten off all I can, I go back over the area with a damp scrubber sponge.  This allows me to get rid of any residual paste as well as any small bits of paper that might be remaining.  With the wallpaper all the way up to the popcorn ceiling, I find that about 1/4 inch of the paper will often still be on the wall as I can’t reach it with a scorer.  I take the scrubber sponge and dampen it then wipe it over the remaining area.  I let it sit for a few minutes then use my putty knife and scrape off the rest.

Once I have removed the border and paste I replace my mop head and use a hot water and simple green (cleaner) mix to clean the walls.  Afterwards I like to sit back and admire my work while waiting for Advil to kick in for any sore muscles I might have.  There are many way to remove wallpaper borders.  This is just how I prefer to do it.



Fill half way

Fill half way

Gently remove

Gently remove

Simple Green Cleaner

Simple Green Cleaner


















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