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How to Remove Strippable Wallpaper and Prep the Wall to Paint

As much as we love our new home, there are a few too many rooms (I promise a tour is coming soon!!) with wallpaper that was probably beautiful in its prime, but just is way too dated now. In fact, I am absolutely in love with the big floral patterns that grace all of the home design sites and good magazines these days; but all of this removing has me questioning if I really want to go there. Talk to me in (several) months when all of this aged out stuff is out of here and maybe I will give you a different story. Maybe.

But before I take you into the future, let's just focus on removing some of the past. Every person I showed 'before' pictures to of this new house reacted the same way - a quick 'ooh & ahh' over the yard and charm of the place...and then eyes filling with loathing and a low, vile "ugh, wallpaper" escaping their snarling lips (most likely remembering a time in their past that they were exhaustedly peeling away little shreds of the blasted stuff or washing the sticky walls of their own future dream room).

Our kitchen wallpaper removed like wrapping paper from the best present I've ever received....and we ripped it all off (in fact, I did very little as all 3 of the kids tore it off with glee). The next room we moved onto, not so much. My oldest son was the only one with the patience to help with that room, but he stayed in there all evening and got most of the design off. This weekend we will set about taking the backing off the wall with a steamer.

Back to the kitchen though, because everyone tells me to relax and focus on one room at a time, don't get overwhelmed, don't think ahead, don't move onto another project until the last one is done. And unlike the "sleep before the baby comes" advice that I didn't heed AT ALL, this time I'm going to reign it in and follow the wise words of the sages who have gone before me.

After getting all the paper off the wall, I was left with drywall that had never before been painted. And although it didn't look like much, there was a glue left on there that no amount of washing would get rid of.

There are apparently 3 types of wallpaper out there, strippable (the Christmas present kind-hallelujah!), Peelable (the kind in our bathroom that leaves a paper backing), and Traditional (we have a few rooms with this and I am sitting here crying right along with you). So here is what to do with the first type, and also, congratulations if this is yours!:

How top Remove Strippable Wallpaper and Prep the Walls for Paint:

Supplies You Will Need:

-Putty Knife



-TSP (heavy duty cleaner from the hardware store)

-Killz original oil-based primer or Zissner Gardz

-trim brush & paint roller

-painter's tape

1.) Take the Wallpaper Down

Use your putty knife to lift the corner of the paper, then gently lift the paper from the wall, pulling slowly and staying close to the wall to minimize tearing.. If your paper rips, just loosen another corner and start over. Continue throughout the room until all of your paper is gone. Don't forget to check under outlet covers and shelves/major appliances to make sure you haven't missed any!

2.) Wash the Walls to Prep for Painting

This is a step that you must absolutely not skip, as you don't want that nasty glue to get in your way and ruin all of your hard work after you get your new color on the walls. Once all the paper has been removed, clean the walls with a heavy duty cleaner (like TSP) and water to remove any residue. If you have minimal glue, soap and water can work as well, I just didn't want to take any chances. Allow the walls to dry completely before painting.

3.) Oil-based Primer or Zissner Gardz

Because I was so nervous about all of the glue residue remaining on my walls, sticky to the touch after the washing with water reactivated it, I decided to prime for extra assurance. You absolutely must choose something OTHER than a regular water-based primer, as the water in the primer will re-activate the water base of the wallpaper glue and turn your walls into a crackling mess down the road.

Because it is winter here and we have young kids running about, I was very hesitant to go for the oil-based Killz. The fumes are just noxious and I didn't want to go that route. After quite a bit of research, I decided to go with the Zinsser Gardz primer. Although water-based, the Gardz has a hydrophobic resin that is better at sealing glue than other primers. The walls covered beautifully and we haven't had any bubbling issues.

Once you have taken all of these steps, your walls should be ready to paint! We will be back soon with our thoughts on how to deal with this peelable kind:)

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