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  • Writer's pictureLee Varhola Home

My First Wallpaper Job

When we bought our house, it was covered in wallpaper. I mean, almost all of the bedrooms, the kitchen, the basement, the bathrooms, the entryway, you name it it was covered. I really did love some of it, and I can live with most of it for awhile, but our powder bath wallpaper just wasn’t my style. I’m not really into red so I knew that I wanted to redo it at some point.

Summers are crazy and I haven’t had a project in a while, so I was itching to do something. Wallpaper seemed like the perfect, couple days, easy project, and boy was I wrong.

Honestly, I now have a new appreciation for people who install wallpaper because I found out the most important part of installing wallpaper is prepping the walls. The wallpaper that was installed in this bathroom, I don’t know what happened, but the wallpaper came off in bits of confetti, I am not joking. Imagine peeling thousands of bits of confetti off the wall. I tried everything. I tried everybody’s recommendations, which I will list below. By the end of it I was so grateful that this was a very small room and there was was millwork half way down the walls so I really didn’t have that much to remove. All in all it took me about 12 hours clocked removing wallpaper. It took me probably another day to prep the walls for the new wallpaper, and then installing the wallpaper took me about four hours. I know that seems backwards, but about halfway through this project I never ever ever wanted to look at wallpaper again. I even thought about not reinstalling wallpaper. By the end of this project, I want to install wallpaper my kitchen! It was truly a rollercoaster of emotions.

So here's what I learned. This was my very first wallpaper and project so take it with a grain of salt, but I’m really excited to be on this wallpaper and journey after going through the whole thing.

If you have to remove wallpaper, here are my steps. In reality, these are the tips that everybody gave me including professionals, and experts. I am so grateful for them!

– Score your walls. You can buy a Wallpaper scorer. It basically has a little handheld device that puts tiny little micro holes in your wallpaper so when you steam or spray it penetrates underneath and gets the glue wet so that it makes it easier to come off.

– The most recommended item to me was a Wallpaper steamer. I just didn’t feel the need to go rent or buy one for such a small space but I did use a clothing steamer and I think that this was where I made the most progress. A clothing steamer works really well to get the wallpaper super wet and make it bubble so that I was able to peel it up in bigger pieces.

– A good scraper was also really important. I started with a plastic one. Just go ahead and skip that and use a metal scraper. You’re going to make a huge mess but this makes it a little bit easier.

- There are a ton of wallpaper stripper sprays on the market. I used one. I also use a concoction of water vinegar and fabric softener that worked great to and it was a little bit more cost-effective.

Once all your wallpaper is removed, prepping the walls is super important. I took some light sandpaper to the walls just to make sure everything was really smooth. That way that the new wallpaper lays on really smoothly. Then, I primed the walls. You can buy wallpaper primer that has sizing in it. Sizing will make the wallpaper come off in bigger pieces. That’s the proper way to do it. I ended up using a kilz primer that was more than mildew resistant because this is a bathroom. The can said that it was “prep for wallpapers” so we’re just going to pray that the wallpaper comes off easier than I did the first time.

Then the fun part came. I wallpaper came in the mail and I was super excited to get started. Mapping out your wallpaper and drawing lines to make sure you’re sure everything is level and square is really important. I had to turn four corners in the small little bathroom and it wasn’t an easy task, but you don’t want your seem to end up on the corners. We had to do a little bit of math to make it all work. It is also important to note, that when you go around the walls and the paper meets up, there is a good chance the pattern won’t match up perfectly. Pick an inconspicuous spot for this to happen like behind the door.

It can be a little nerve-racking doing your first couple pieces especially because wallpaper is so expensive. I just kept thinking when I was using the wallpaper that like “oh I’m cutting $10. I’m cutting 10 more dollars” It just adds up and it’s really stressful. So measure twice, cut once use your leve.

Once you get that first piece on it goes pretty quick. Like I said before, we wallpapered this bathroom in about four hours. We took our time, we took breaks and it turned out great!

There are a few different kinds of wallpaper you can buy. You can buy Peel and stick, Pre-Pasted or Unpasted. I have found that the unpasted wallpaper was the easiest to install. To install unpated you paste to the paper and then the glue is still wet when you put it on the wall. This allows you to move it around. Peel and Stick can be a little bit more tricky because it’s like a sticker, once you stick it on, there’s no turning back. So if you make a mistake, you kind of have to rip it off and start over.

Investing in a couple great tools for your wallpaper installation is a good idea:

  • A ton of really sharp razor razor blades

  • A Wallpaper brush to apply your glue

  • Smoothing tools

The best thing about wallpaper is it truly is instant gratification. When you get it up on the walls, it looks so goo. By the end of this project I was ready to do it all over again. I kind of forgot about the horrible experience in the begining. I’m sure I will be reminded of that when I go to do it again, but just kind of got through it and make sure you do all your prep work and most importantly take your time. This is a really easy fun project to do!

Visit my Instagram for lots of photos and videos of this project!



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