Monday, February 18, 2013

Removing Wallpaper with Safe & Simple

First things first, congratulations to Erin Dammen  who won last week's PleasanTrees giveaway! Erin, I've sent you an e-mail to get your address, so look out for that!

Now, onto the whole...house thing.

This weekend we decided to tackle removing the wallpaper from our upstairs bath. While it was in pretty good shape, it was very dated and the colors in it made the room very pink and dark. It wasn't working for me.


I honestly don't remember which blog I read about Safe & Simple on. But, I decided to use it because it was non toxic, non fumy, and if somehow the dogs got it on their paws it wouldn't poison them. But then after all that, I may or may not have bought the bottle about 6 months ago and hid it away because removing wallpaper seemed really intimidating to me. Before I forget, I purchased mine here and it was very affordable for how concentrated it is.

I heard a lot of horror stories about removing wallpaper in old houses all the way to my friend's mom's horror story, "I steamed the wallpaper and the whole plaster wall crumbled down and we had to re-drywall!" I was horrified. But, since we are amazingly short on cash this week, I decided to suck it up and do it.


The wallpaper in the bathroom was not peeling without a fight, as it states on the bottle that you should remove as much of the top layer as possible before applying the solution.

Which literally, in a squirt bottle, I put a small squirt in it and then filled it up with water.

Sadly, nothing was coming up, and I was lucky to get a 1 inch piece off. I tried running a DIF tiger over it (you know, that round thing with the razors in it that cut small holes in the paper) and tried squirting the solution into the cuts, but it didn't work. We later found that when we DIDN'T cut it up, it worked out much better.

Once we were able to get a little corner up, we would soak the shit out of it with the solution, get a putty knife under it, and get it up just enough that we could grab it with our fingers and slowly pull it like a sunburn.

I worked on this room alone for about 4 hours, then Nate came in and kicked my ass. We decided this is because I am a picker while he is a peeler. If Nate has a sunburn he can NOT leave it alone. Whereas if I have a scab or a zit or something, I have to kill it.

Wallpaper was not a good chore for me.

I am also telling ya, that you haven't lived until you've seen my husband balancing on a clawfoot trying to get wallpaper down (even on the ceiling).

Don't believe me?


Once you get the top layer off, just soak the paper, wait a few minutes and it comes of like butter. It was really easy once the stupid top layer was off.


We did discover the shocking joy that it was plywood under the wallpaper. I'm assuming there's plaster behind it, but it does mean that there's no need to skim coat since we couldn't gouge anything. We'll do a coat or two of primer and then paint it, and put it on our list of rooms that need to be redrywalled when we get to that point on the house.

Now we're just stuck cleaning up all the gunk.


We swept up and cleaned, but I'm pretty sure the reason this stuff works so well is that it reactivates the glue which then...sticks to your floor when you're not paying attention.

What did you guys all get done this weekend?

16 comments:

  1. Oh, wallpaper--why are you so much trouble?! We were very relieved that there was no wallpaper in this house....although in repainting walls we've discovered that there WAS (of course; it was built in the 80's), and that it got painted over instead of taken down in at least a few cases.

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    1. I understand why people get frustrated and paint over it, but it makes it so much harder down the road to take care of problems correctly. Drives me crazy.

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  2. 1- Please never try to use this stuff on your sunburns.
    2- YAY YOUR WALL PAPER IS DOWN!

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  3. Wall paper is the devil's own decoration, and good for you for getting it down!

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  4. There must be a special place in hell for those who put up wallpaper. These days, there is no need to do that with all the cool painting techniques like stenciling, etc. The reason it's so much easier to get off when the top layer is off, and why paper tigers sometimes help, is because most papers (especially those used in bathrooms) are vinyl coated. So you can spray and spray and spray and soak and soak all you like, but until that vinyl coating is off, the stuff you are spraying on will never get to the glue to loosen it up, which is what you need it to do.

    I did a bathroom before, and thought I was going to stick a pen in my neck.

    Also - be careful with a paper tiger on drywall - I left all sorts of pock marks in mine that showed through the paint. :-(

    So glad you got it down ---- so what's next for that bathroom?

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    1. That vinyl was killer! Near impossible to get off, and that stupid tiger wasn't helping. Once we got the vinyl off it was easy breazy, but that stuff was only coming off in small sections!

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  5. Doesn’t it seem a bit spooky that wallpaper is having a resurgence right now? So often I’m like, “I want to jump on this bandwagon! Soooo many cute patterns right now!” and then my mind skips ahead 15 years, to either myself or some other poor girl standing in front of the (now) ugly wallpaper cursing as they try to scrape it off. So then I feel like I’d be mean and crazy to put any in my house. But soooo cute! But won’t be cute forever! But cuuute now! But…! But…! I have no clue what to do.

    I am very stoked about the earrings, BTW! I’m telling everyone I know I feel cool for winning and that they need to check out your blog. Big giggles when I mention the name. ;-)))

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    1. Wallpaper is very appealing, and I'm not going to lie, I totally have plans to put wallpaper up in one of our rooms. And I don't feel bad about it! If a buyer down the road has that much to say about it I'll spend a weekend taking it down, but it's my house and I'll do what makes me happy!

      Also, I'm so glad!!! I can't wait to see how you like them!

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  6. Posts like these keep me from carrying out my great ideas that involve wallpaper. Thanks. :)

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    1. Ha! You're welcome. I must be crazy, because I'm totally putting wallpaper up in one of our rooms

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  7. When we bought our house we had to overlook every room...because EVERY room had wallpaper. I was like "No problem...I've removed it before, this won't be a big deal!!" WRONG! Whoever put the stuff up (although they did a great job hanging it) didn't prep the walls correctly before putting up the paper. Getting it off now (along with the paper on the drywall) is beyond a nightmare. It comes off in dime size pieces (if I'm lucky). I've tried every trick and product out there to no avail.

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    1. People really do make it seem like it's no big deal. It wasn't once we got the top off, but just that top, stupid design layer is a nightmare. I wish people wouldn't undertake projects without doing research on how to do it (says the woman with a DIY blog that 98% of the time I make it up as I go...)

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  8. I keep thinking that someone, somewhere, knows the trick to easy wallpaper removal, but the more posts I read like this one, the more I'm realizing that there just is no easy way. We still have a bathroom with wallpaper that has seashells on it. Unfortunately, some of them look like vaginas and others like tacos (at least to us), but I'm still feeling scarred by wallpaper removal in our kitchen (more than a year ago) so they aren't coming down any time soon.

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  9. Dewallpapering has been my least favorite task so far.... it's just a sloshy gooey thanksless job. Glad you got it all done! Also, Nate's pants are fantastic.

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