How to Easily Remove Wallpaper with These 6 Steps

August 18, 2020

*This home improvement post is sponsored by Trimaco. All content and opinions are my own.

Today I am sharing tips for one of my most effective renovation strategies – how to remove wallpaper! My latest home project is giving our dated master bathroom a little refresh. The master bathroom in our home is original to when the home was built – the late 1960’s. The bathroom has the retro blue shower tiles and even matching blue sinks! My goal is to give this bathroom a modern update without a major renovation. Removing the wallpaper and adding a fresh coat of paint on the walls will completely change the vibe in this room.

Here is what it looked like when we moved in.

Original 1960's master bathroom | Building Bluebird
Original master bathroom
How to updated a retro bathroom without tearing out the vintage shower
Original bathroom

As a realtor, house flipper, and homeowner, I have seen SO MANY people scared away from houses with bad wallpaper. When you learn how to remove it correctly, the task no longer seems as intimidating. It is much easier to imagine how a home can look without it. I have taken down a lot of wallpaper over the years and I can’t wait to share my process with you!

How to remove wallpaper | Building Bluebird
#homerenovation #bathroommakeover #diy
The best wallpaper remover tool – wallpaper steamer

How to Remove Wallpaper | Tutorial

I partnered with Trimaco for this project to protect the floors and surfaces in our master bathroom. These products work super well for wallpaper projects and can be re-used again and again for all kinds of projects!

Tools to Remove Wallpaper:

Step 1 | Prep the Space

Before removing any wallpaper, it is important to protect the floors and surfaces in a room. To protect the new carpeting in the vanity room, I laid down the Stay Put Canvas dropcloth from Trimaco. The wallpaper pieces you remove will be wet and sticky from the glue so you want to make sure to protect the surfaces in the room.

With this triple-layer dropcloth, I was able to remove wallpaper without worrying about the wet and gluey strips ruining the carpet. The canvas has a thin layer of plastic to prevent any leaks beneath the dropcloth. The final layer of the dropcloth is a rubber backing to keep the canvas in place and prevent slipping.

Recommended products to protect floors during a renovation | Building Bluebird
Trimaco Stay Put Canvas to protect my floors

In the toilet and shower room, I used Trimaco’s toilet cover to prevent any glue from sticking to the toilet. The best part is that I can re-use these same products when I paint the room.

Recommended products to protect floors during a renovation | Building Bluebird
Trimaco toilet protector

Once your surfaces have been covered, remove as much as you can from the walls. This includes outlet covers, hooks, towel racks, etc. Removing these barriers will allow you to remove the wallpaper more quickly and easily.

How to clean our walls and prep for paint | Building Bluebird
Remove items on the wall

Step 2 | Steam the Walls & Scrape

As the wallpaper steamer heats up, use your scoring tool on the walls to allow the steam to penetrate through the top layer of the wallpaper. If the wallpaper has started to peel away, I remove as much as I can without the steamer. This usually reveals the second layer of the wallpaper which is the paper backing with the glue on it. The purpose of a steamer is to reactivate the glue that holds the wallpaper in place.

Top tips for removing wallpaper easily | Building Bluebird

When the steamer is ready (steam will push out of the handle), place it on the wall and let it saturate the wall for 5-10 seconds. Move the steamer to another spot on the wall and use your putty knife to scrape off the saturated wallpaper.

How to remove wallpaper | Building Bluebird
#homerenovation #bathroommakeover #diy
Removing wallpaper with a steamer

As you move across the wall, your scraper will get sticky. Keep a rag available to wipe the glue off of your scraper. I like to scrape the blank walls one more time after I pull off the wallpaper to remove as much of the glue as possible.

Top tips to remove wallpaper easily | Building Bluebird
Using my Trimaco rag to wipe glue off of the scraper

Step 3 | Remove Wallpaper from Tight Corners

There will be some areas in a room that the steamer cannot reach. This is where the spray bottle of wallpaper remover and the smaller putty knife come in. Saturate the wallpaper with the spray and scrape it off of the wall with the putty knife. Another challenging area to reach with the steamer is around a toilet. The spray bottle and small scraper work really well around a toilet and outlets close to door jams.

How to remove wallpaper | Building Bluebird
#homerenovation #bathroommakeover #diy
How to remove wallpaper from tight corners

Step 4 | Remove or Seal Remaining Glue

If there is glue still remaining on the walls, wipe them down with TSP and a sponge. The glue will feel slippery once you start wiping with the sponge and the more you scrub, the less slippery it will feel. This indicates that the glue was removed. After scrubbing the walls, I use my rag to wipe the wall dry and remove any lasting glue from the wall.

How to remove wallpaper glue from your walls | Building Bluebird
TSP solution to clean the walls

If you do not want to scrub the walls to remove the glue, another option is to apply a coat of oil-based primer to the walls before painting with standard water-based paint. Because it is oil-based, it will not reactivate the glue (like water-based paints will). Once the primer is applied, you can paint with standard interior paint. Oil-based primer is very smelly so ventilate the space as best as you can.

Step 5 | Fill Holes & Sand Walls

Once the walls are dry, fill in any holes on the wall with spackle.

Fill any nail holes to prep the wall for paint | Building Bluebird

Use a sanding block to smooth out the walls. Use a damp cloth to wipe the walls down once more to remove any dust.

Use a sanding block to smooth out walls before painting | Building Bluebird

Step 6 | Cleanup

Toss the wallpaper strips into a garbage bag. Fold up the drop cloth and bring it outside to be shaken out. Remove the toilet protector and fold up the canvas drop cloth to be ready for your next home project! In my case, I will be using these again to paint the walls in the bathroom.

You now have a blank canvas to paint the walls any color your heart desires! For the bathroom, I chose Snowbound by Sherwin Williams. The neutral palette allows the retro blue tiles and sink basins all of the attention without competing.

Freshly painted walls with Caroline Morgan artwork | Building Bluebird #art #snowbound #removewallpaper
Updating a retro bathroom with vintage blue tiles | Building Bluebird
Snowbound paint on the walls after wallpaper was removed

Want to save this tutorial to reference once you start your next project? I’ve got you covered! Use the pin below to easily find your way back to this tutorial.

Follow this easy tutorial to quickly remove wallpaper and prep your space for paint | Building Bluebird
#diy #homerenovation

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