Things are getting steamy in the foyer! As a refresher, we have five rooms full of wallpaper and we’re attempting to take five different removal methods for a spin, just to see what ends up working (and what bites the big one). For our first time at the wallpaper removing rodeo we used hot water and a spray bottle, which actually worked out pretty well. And in this week’s hard-hitting Wallpaper Exposé we’ll be tackling the foyer with this guy. His name? Steamer. His game? Steaming clothes. He’s actually John’s sister’s, but it was free to borrow and we thought we’d see how it worked out for wallpaper too.
But first, a moment of silence for the small blue flowers.
Ok, let’s get it going. This is the first area of the foyer we tackled, and our method for this area was for John to run the steamer all over that section of the wall and then I followed behind him, yanking all the way.
It worked pretty well (some areas left the backing when I peeled so they had to be resteamed and reyanked, but it wasn’t too bad. I’d score it as working a smidge better than the boiling water method simply because it was probably 10% faster/easier since around 10% more of the backing seemed to come off so it didn’t have to be removed in a second pass. But when you factor in the expense of buying or renting a steamer I’d say it was only marginally better than our first (free) method of hot water in a spray bottle. So it’s kind of a toss up. Do you want to pay $20-50 for something a little bit easier or would you need it to be a whole lot easier to spend that loot? Of course someone else might swear by a steamer and say it worked in two minutes, so the paper and how it’s applied are definitely a factor too.
Oh but it got a little hairy when we had to get the tops of the walls.
Since we were only dealing with a clothes steamer the hose wasn’t built to stretch very far, so it wasn’t quite long enough for the steamer to rest on the floor while we did the upper areas (which we never thought about until we got to that part). It wasn’t too much of a big deal, but John did get a nice workout holding up the equivalent of a gallon of milk as he worked his way around the top part of the foyer. So that’s just something to think about (definitely rent/buy a wallpaper steamer over a clothing steamer if you’re actually going to spend money on something).
Around halfway through we decided to try another method, which was pulling the paper right along with the steamer, so instead of John doing a big area and then me following behind him peeling, I literally peeled as he went like so:
This method was awesome. In almost every case it removed both the wallpaper and the backing behind it so the wall was bare and perfect underneath. Must have been because there was more heat on the part we were actively peeling instead of pulling the paper off after it started cooling down and John had moved on to another area.
Another reason this second steamer method was awesome was because one person can do it, so if you have a solo meeting planned with a wallpapered room, don’t fret. You can do it. And you can look this sexy doing it:
So I’d rank this second faster-peeling steamer method as around 30% quicker & easier than the hot water/spray bottle method. Although we were tackling a larger area than a small bathroom, so it was still a substantially longer process for us. Especially when we hit this Amazing Race-ish Road Block. Layered wallpaper.
For some reason, there had been two layers of wallpaper applied to the entire front door side of the wall. But it wasn’t an older paper underneath, it was exactly the same stuff.
You guys. It was like GROUNDHOG DAY. Basically we had to do that wall twice and I’m not gonna lie. There was whining. But we got ‘er done. Eventually.
The funny thing is that we have no idea why it was doubled along that entire wall. Our only guess was that something didn’t match up so they redid it with a second layer of wallpaper to correct whatever got crooked or mismatched.
Oh and we did have one “incident” where we think the paper was glued a lot more in one spot for some reason, so our drywall’s top layer got peeled off. Pretty, eh?
My plan is just to skim coat that with some spackle and then sand it down so it’s hopefully flush with the rest of the wall and just as smooth.
After we wrestled all of the paper down I went over the walls with a spray bottle full of half vinegar and half water (not hot, just room temperature) and used the rougher scrubby side of a sponge to make sure there wasn’t any glue residue anywhere. For the most part it had all come up with the backing so there wasn’t much to scrub, but a few tacky areas were a lot smoother after this step, so it’s definitely worth adding onto the end of your peeling project.
So that’s how we steamed things up, all in the name of deflowering the foyer.
Obligatory before shot from our walk-through. You know, for closure.
Oh but you’ll notice that the closet and the bathroom doors are off in the second to last shot, since we’re actively working on taking those from blue to white. We’re also about 20% into the blue trim out there, so we can’t wait to get that done and share the photos, hopefully sometime next week (four coats = Barfville).
Has anyone else taken a steamer for a spin? Did you do the follow-right-away peeling approach, or the steam-a-section-and-then-peel method? So far we’ve loved that we’ve never had to score anything and haven’t even needed a spackle knife (hand-yanking has done the trick). So I’d definitely put that in the pro column, right along with the zero dolla (holla!) cost so far.
OH you guuyyysss…
All that blue trim. :/
But everything is lookin’ so good!
Consider yourself high-fived! :D
That steamer reminds me of my wedding day. One of my bridesmaids was addicted to using it and could not stop steaming my dress…with me in it. She was also the bridesmaid who insisted on force feeding me pretzels even after I assured her that I ate a decent lunch. It was her first/only time as a bridesmaid so I think she had a lot of energy and ideas saved up.
I am incredibly jealous at the ease in which your wallpaper comes down. It was a NIGHTMARE in our old house. Perhaps it’s the difference between types of wallpapers ours is the depression era cardboard type paper glued to plaster walls. Eventually we gave up and knocked down the plaster to drywall :)
Amy Blake says
Thankfully, our current house did not have any wallpaper in it but our 3 prior houses did and I thought I was becoming an expert at removing wallpaper after all 3 of them. Never tried the steamer but would have loved to try it out back then. I got the best results from fabric softener/warm water combo. I think the foyer looks great now and do not envy all those coats of paint on the blue trim. Our current house had unpainted paneling in 6 rooms and took several coats of primer and paint in each room. It was awful. But I got it done and lived to tell about it. Keep up the good work!
You can also use a steam iron! Just hold close to the wall, press the steam button and yank! Works the same way, most people have one and its light enough to hold up in high places!
This might be a strange question but where did you get that rug, the circular one, next to the green chair, with the little rocking horse thing on it in the picture?
That was from Joss & Main a while back, although Overstock sells them too I think.
Jessica Rose says
My fiance and I bought a steamer to remove wallpaper in the bathrooms. It worked out well but we would get so sweaty from the steam and being in a small(ish) room!! Gross! We also weren’t able to just peel ours, we had to hand rip the first layer off and steam the 2nd sticky layer, one area at a time. Took forever but was SO worth it!
Looks great! I was worried I would get impatient waiting for the big makeovers, but you’ve already improved the house so much and it has been so fun to watch. I’ve never noticed that scrolly/curvy detailing on the side of your stairs. It doesn’t really seem like you guys but it might be hard to remove and actually might look nice with a coat of crisp white paint. Do you know if it’s going to stay?
We’re currently having a debate about whether we should remove it (me) or leave it and once it’s painted it hopefully won’t look as ornate (John). We’ll have to see who wins… haha!
My husband and I reached this compromise about our panelling: I will paint it, and if he still doesn’t like it, he can rip it off. /grin
I’m having flashbacks to the wallpaper in my childhood room. I love how there are always surprises when you DIY, like deja vu wallpaper. Not that it’s less fun to read without (you’re both excellent writers), but it definitely amps up the entertainment factor. Of course, I would have been whining right along with you had I been the one taking down two layers of the same ugly wallpaper.
Desiree C. says
You wanna know something? I couldn’t possibly give you more props for taking on these projects. Refurbishing a house has always been a dream of mine, but the time…man, the time, it eats at my soul and isn’t for me. I’ll stick to decorating, small crafting, and painting things (heck, I get cranky when a room takes me four hours to paint). You guys are true DIYers to see this thing through because your current house is going to be SO beautiful (I can’t express that enough) when you are done. Confession: I almost whined out loud for you when you informed us of the double layered wall paper and the four-coat trim painting method… Yikes! Like I said, not all of that work is for me, but it must feel great to not only accomplish so much, but to live in that accomplishment every single day. Kudos to you, Petersiks, kudos! You are the right people for this job and you will definitely show this house some love!
Aw thanks Desiree, you’re so sweet. We’re definitely hopelessly in love with house projects. Either that or we’re gluttons for punishment. Haha!
You are doing a fabulous job!!! I cannot wait to see the difference when you paint all of that trim a nice bright white – it’s looking amazing already. Nice job kids!
Jean (notsupermum) says
My ex-husband bought a Bosch wallpaper stripper which works really well, and I’m pleased to say that I got custody of it when we divorced. Yay!
Dang! Needed these posts about a year ago! I inherited four bedrooms full of wallpaper, and tried the scoring/fabric softener/hot water combo on three rooms (the first room’s paper pulled right off, so I was lulled into a false sense of lickety-splitness). It was a HUGE mess. What’s so awesome about watching your process is to see that you’re not gunked up with wads of sticky paper and glue goop. Yay! The rooms look great.
Jennifer I. says
I grew up in a 150 year old house where we took a wallpaper steamer for a spin. We had no idea what we were in for – 5 layers of wallpaper on the walls and 2 layers on the ceiling (picture a steamer above your head with hot water drops coming down around you, yikes!). This was such a painful post to read – I run every time I see wallpaper and am doing a victory dance now that you’ve removed it! We finally hired somebody to help us with the gummy mess of 5 layers. It was too much too handle….we steamed and steamed until we couldn’t anymore!
In the first apartment my husband had nothing had been touched in YEARS and was up to him to paint as he’d like. One bedroom had 5 layers of wallpaper. The top layer was actually just stapled to the wall. That was the easy layer to remove. The other four layers may as well have been cemented on.
Stapled = crazytown!
So, question totally unrelated to wallpaper removal…why aren’t you just using the sprayer for the blue trim? I know you want to protect the doors/floors, but couldn’t you just do the Katie Bower – put brown paper and tape on EVERYthing???
Because you have A LOT of blue trim in that house (as if you hadn’t noticed).
We’re using it for the doors (which we can remove and take out into the garage) but the trim just leads into too many areas (the kitchen, the dining room, the office, two closets, the bathroom) that taping those all off to protect them from flying paint would take about a million years. She says as she cries softly into her paintbrush.
AIEIE! Having PSTD flashbacks from my own wallpaper removal experience. Happy to report that I survived but it was baaaaaddd…the wallpaper was pasted (yup, totally old school style, no pre-pasted or self-adhesive for those folks, no siree) on walls that were not primed at all. Tears, they were shed.
Steamer was the best way to go, for sure. Looks great!
Melissa P. says
We had a horrendous sports-themed wallpaper border to take down in my daughter’s room. I tried the hot water & vinegar spray with zero success but we didn’t want to spend the $$ to rent or buy a steamer. So what I did was buy a cheap $7 Target clothes iron, wet an old hand towel, and ironed that paper right off. The iron came out of it looking used and abused but that paper peeled right off easy as could be.
Tricia Fike says
You LUCKED OUT bros, you just never know – usually if the person used wallpaper sizing on the wall before application, it will peel off nicely. Again, you got LUCKY! I’ve had wallpaper come off like this, but I’ve also had a 2″ piece at a time come off, all using the same method. Congrats!
That rug was from our walk through (it was the previous owners).
Amazing! Awesome work, and beautiful, clean walls. I’ve been so traumatized by wallpaper removal that I wasn’t sure I could read this without damaging my health…Our condo was the model unit when the development was built in 1976, meaning that the developers didn’t care to actually mud or prime the walls before putting up their oh-so-stylish-at-the-time wallpaper. Night. Mare. I’m happy for y’all that the walls look so lovely under all that floral madness!
“So that’s how we steamed things up, all in the name of deflowering the foyer.”
Nice one, Sherry. And oh-so-subtle. Love it.
xoxox from the gutter…
My sister had wallpaper all over her foreclosure house and each area needed a different method for removal. It was crazy-town. Her daughters room just came right off with a little hot water, her bedroom needed steam, the stairway needed steam twice with scoring and hot water, it was like it was crazy glued on there. I still have nightmares…..
Great post, as always. Even though we don’t have wallpaper, I always love reading your adventures and storing away little kernels of knowledge for any potential DIY situations!
Also, I sort of feel compelled to mention that your road block would be Phil Keoghan-like. Jeff Probst hosts Survivor, so he’s more likely to make you catapult a can of paint onto the top of a Jenga-style pyramid or something than give you a road block.
Haha, you’re right! All fixed! Also, have you ever noticed that when Phil is introducing something he’s always walking while he talks? Once we noticed it we couldn’t stop laughing. It’s his go-to method of info delivery.
Hey, walk’n’talking for the camera is not for the faint-of-heart, haha! It’s actually a pretty tough skill to master – maybe he just want to show it off ;)
Seriously. Dude’s a pro.
The before and after is so satisfying that I’m a little sad I don’t have any wall paper to tackle at home!
Jackie L says
Wow!!! What a difference with just the wallpaper coming down. I cannot wait to see this foyer finished up, it’s such a bright and open space that is just begging to be brightened up and modernized!
Thats a pretty smooth trick using the steamer, now I know mine can do double duty when we buy our first home! I love the internet! And the Petersiks!
Lauren N says
“steamed things up in the name of deflowering the foyer” who knew wallpaper removal could sound so naughty?! hilarious! Wall-paper removal is the bane of my existance. We did it at my grandfather’s house, the whole house was wall-papered, top to bottom, every room. Including ceilings. CEILINGS. Who wallpapers the CEILING? People who never removed wallpaper from a ceiling, that’s who. My personal favorite was the orange and blue floral wallpaper. Good times.
Lauren O says
Since you are planning to try a few different ways, here’s what we did:
Used a hairdryer for the top layer and heated it as we pulled it off. (Similar to what you guys did with the steamer during the second part.) We already had a hairdryer and extension cord so that was super helpful. The hair dryer only took off the top layer. We used a product called CHOMP from Home Depot to soak and scrap of the bottom part. My hubby and I fought over who got to do the CHOMP part because it was so much fun! Hope that helps give you another idea! -Lauren
Thanks for all the tips guys!
We moved into a house with painted wallpaper in the kitchen and one of the bathrooms. I’m embarrassed to say it had held up so well (and in the interest of time) we had the painters paint our colors over the walls (making 2 coats of paint over 1989 wallpaper). I hate the feel of the walls but its held up nicely.
Snaps to y’all for taking it all off! If I had more time I’d take it down in our house too!!
Stephanie Phillips says
Will y’all be removing the scalloped details from the stair risers? I’m assuming it’s only an additional piece of trim (not, ya know, like carved or something).
We’re currently having a debate about whether we should remove it (me) or leave it and once it’s painted it hopefully won’t look as ornate (John). We’ll have to see who wins… haha!
Stephanie Phillips says
I even checked to be sure my question wasn’t redundant. Sorry for the duplicate!
This is a battle I hope Sherry wins.
Our experience was nearly identical. We started in my son’s room upstairs as he only had wallpaper on one wall. We tried scoring and spraying, etc. but that was really not that great. Downstairs we tried a few different techniques, but what we eventually found worked beautifully was just as you described. The steamer, once we found out how to best use it, allowed my husband to peel and everything was coming off in nice, clean sheets. Easy peasy for the most part. We did wash down the walls well afterward to get minor residue off. In a few spots, we had weird adhesive, but what I think happened was that the previous owner likely superglued down curling seams. That was much harder to remove.
My mother in law papers and removes her own every few years and acts as if it is the easiest thing on earth. I think she just has the technique mastered and she no longer finds it even a bit intimidating.
Overall I hated the scoring tool and thought it was a waste. Once we got some practice and the technique down with the steamer, that was by far the easiest method.
Michelle @birdsofberwick.com says
I’m lovin’ the multiple “deflowering” references across different posts…
We used a wallpaper steamer to remove wallpaper from our foyer also. We had a textured wallpaper, and we found that we could peel the top layer off before going in with the steamer, leaving just the backing and then it was much quicker. We also found that things moved faster if we didn’t score the paper first, as it came off in bigger sheets, as opposed to small pieces where we had scored it. Looking good, Petersiks! Love watching the progress!
Yup, I agree that the steamer is the way to go. I used a small table to hold the steamer for the border and a wide putty knife along with a warm water-vinegar mix right after the de-papering. I also put down newspapers along the wall to catch all the scrapings which made clean up easier. I too had to skimcoat, but like someone else mentioned, I primed it before painting. The hall looks better already. And here’s the kicker, I put up the wallpaper and I put it up to stay, so I had no one to blame but myself.
Emily R. says
I steamed 2 layers (older and newer) off of every surface in my home in Lakeside INCLUDUNG CEILINGS!!!!!! I am pretty sure that I got carpal tunnel from that little project. I had to use a scraper and mine wouldn’t pull off like that. It was hell on earth and while I was on the ladder scraping the ceiling in my soon-to-be bedroom, I am pretty sure I put a curse on any future owners of my house that might attempt to hang wallpaper in my home. On a happier note, if you guys need to borrow a wall paper steamer I am just down the road.
NOTA BENE: It was like $50 to rent a steamer for a day from Home Depot and it was $50 to purchase one from Home Depot…clearly they didn’t think that through too well…
So funny about the price similarity!
First of all, LOVE YOUR BLOG! i recently found it and am obsessed. We just redid our kitchen ourselves and I’d love to pass on some before and afters. This method seems really easy, and I will likely try it because I already have a clothes steamer. I do have to say, worth spending the money on the steamer, as I use it REGULARLY instead of ironing, so duel purpose!
The foyer looks much larger now! I’d love to do a fun wallpaper feature somewhere in the house but convincing my husband is a whole battle in itself. He’s not much of a wallpaper guy… Maybe if y’all get to a wallpaper feature somewhere in your house, I can use it as leverage. “Look honey – John and Sherry did it! And it looks wonderful! Pppppplease?!” Yes, we refer to y’all on a first name basis, just as we do our friends! Happy de-wallpaper-ing!
I have one for you: My LR/DR of my ranch has wallpaper under several coats of paint (including 2 layers I put on *sigh*.). It is well adhered but I see the seams and can’t sand them smooth completely so I am always aware it is there. Is it hopeless? I assume I’d have to use a paper tiger to stick holes through the layers of paint, but any thoughts as to whether I could ever get down to drywall (and stop there)?
Oh man that’s rough! Anyone have any tips for Paula?
I think this is the same wallpaper my parents have in their entryway. If you look at it up close with your eyes crossed, the little blue flowers jump out at you.
Sarah @ House Made of Marital Glue says
Man, I really wish we were about two months later in buying our house so you would’ve done these posts before we ripped off the two layers of wallpaper (the oldest layer being 60 years old) on our plaster walls. We basically had to spackle all of the areas the wallpaper had been on because of the damage done to the plaster walls. So many dents because plaster is so brittle. I’m SO glad that is done!
You have my sympathy. I ended up spackling an entire room for the same reason:
It was the water/detergent stage that did me in though. I sprayed it on the walls to remove the glue and the plaster just started crumbling.
I just want to know why there’s so much blue trim in the first place. LIKE EVERYTHING IS BLUE.
I love how the blue frame around the door is painted on the inside (not that I love that color, but I like how it makes the door seem so much bigger). Did you consider doing that outside? Might beef up the entrance even more!
Oh yes, we googled around to see how people painted sidelights and liked them white best, but some folks paint them all the door color too!
It looks so much better already! These pictures bring back memories of our foyer right after we moved in. This is the method we used (we borrowed my in-laws’ steamer). AND we have the same slate floor in the foyer.
donna in TX says
I tried the spray solution method for a little while, but after discovering I had THREE layers of wallpaper, I bought a steamer. It was the best $50 I spent, since I have a house full of wallpaper!
Awesome idea! I never thought of using a clothing steamer. I did have a handheld Black & Decker steamer I borrowed to take down a wallpaper photo mural a couple of years ago. It worked well, but photo murals are glorified poster/magazine paper and don’t peel off as easily as regular wallpaper. Still, without it, I think it would have taken days vs a few hours.
I used a steamer to remove wallpaper in our kitchen recently, and it worked great, although the amount of glue left was unbelievable (two weeks of scrubbing with a nylon brush after hitting it with hot vinegar/water).
Things go in and out of fashion. I’m probably one of the older readers here (48 stars on the flag when I was born, lol), so I do get a chuckle out of seeing how things cycle back into vogue, like blinds on the windows, and paint vs. wallpaper.
I wonder if the spray bottle method would have been faster if you did it spray and immediate peel style, similar to your preferred method with the steamer?
I bet it would have!
Is the reason the blue trim takes four coats because it’s wood and not drywall? I haven’t painted over something that’s not light or white, and will be soon, so am getting nervous! It’s drywall though.
Sometimes walls take 3 coats but trim can take 4-5 so it’s definitely trickier! If you use a primer on your walls it will hopefully be 2 coats on top of that at the most.
It’s because brushing puts on thinner coats than a roller does.
Which is another reason I love using a roller on dressers and cabinets. Goes fast and less coats!
Off topic: What brand of jeans are those, Sherry? They fit you really well. I have a hard time finding jeans that don’t have saggy under-butt syndrome and that aren’t stuck to me like saran wrap.
Gap skinnies! I’m a crazed fan. They’re the best cheap jeans (I wait for their denim sales) that don’t get baggy.
You guys really area amazing. I don’t know why I’m surprised, but I can’t believe how much you’ve accomplished so far. I’d still be debating door colors. You’re doing a great job deflowering your house.
Aw thanks Kris!