HGTV is the devil.

With their handsome handymen, swinging sledgehammers through horrible kitchen cabinetry, moving load-bearing walls to create open concept floor plans, all within slickly produced 60-minute segments. Watch enough Property Brothers and you too will be bamboozled into believing in your own home improvement capabilities.

On the bright side, things are a-changin’ in my house.

We’ve stopped a horrible leaky kitchen faucet already with minimal psychological trauma.

Now, it was on to our living room.

This was one wall of our living room.


Flowery, huh? It wasn’t our choice, it was there when we moved in.

My wife was 50/50 on it. I liked it for three reasons:

  1. I thought it was kind of funky and gave our otherwise semi-boring living room some personality.
  2. Whoever did the wallpaper job did an excellent job. It was in great shape.
  3. If I didn’t like it, I’d have to take it down.

Well, two years later (and countless watched episodes of Kitchen Cousins) and we made the call. The wallpaper must come down!

This is what we learned:

Drop-cloths are essential. If you’re lucky, your wallpaper will come down in beautiful chunks, long floor-to-ceiling sheets, with minimal fuss. If you’re me, it comes down in fits and starts like a horrific combination of those stickers they put on illegally parked cars’ windows and gum stuck on the bottom of your shoe. The torn and shredded wallpaper served as snow in a virtual holiday scene in my living room. Drop-cloths make the cleanup that much easier.

One of the necessary tools to take down wallpaper moonlights as a medieval torture device. If a wireless mouse and dual-wheel lawn edger had a baby, it’d be a scoring tool. The handle looks like a friendly piece of Tupperware or game show buzzer, but underneath…PURE TERROR. You hold it and do the “Mr. Miyagi Wax-On, Wax-Off” move on the wallpaper, creating tons of tiny tears where the destickifier unhesive wallpaper removal goop can get behind it and work its magic on the adhesive. Also, at night it comes to life and prowls my house like a DEATH ROOMBA plotting my murder.

Using a tool that looks like it might be used to climb a waterfall when it’s frozen (that’s a real thing) might not treat the surface of your wall the gentlest. Buy a scraper, says one website. OK, says me.


Needless to say, after a few hours of work, scoring, spraying, scraping, my accuracy wasn’t the greatest anymore. Holding the METAL edge of the scraper perfectly parallel to the wall was a struggle, resulting in some gouges. But don’t worry! Like my dad always said, “A bird in the hand is worth a little sanding and plastering to cover up the holes in the wall.” Dad was strange. My suggestion is to use a heavy-duty plastic spatula in place of the scraper. Your walls will thank you.

We got things in pretty good shape, with just a weirdo part of the wall clinging to the last vestiges of that flower print. We’re planning on scoring the area again, spraying the goop, and giving it another try.

If that doesn’t work, it’s blowtorch time.

Coming soon! Either:

  • Things I Learned When I Burnt My House Down
  • Things I Learned When Painting My Living Room Wall

Or possibly, “Things I Learned Defending My Family From the Scoring Tool From Hell.”

Have you had the fortuitous luck of taking down wallpaper in your home? How’d it go? What would have made my project easier?

Let me know in the comments below!


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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Through a happy accident in cleaning, I found that Simple Green is wonderful for taking down the dried wallpaper goop once the top layer of paper is gone! Just spray and the dried goop changes color a bit, making it easy to use a scraper to get the remnants off. I’ve used it in 3 bathrooms and the kitchen so far in our current house. About a 10:1 water to Simple Green concentrate ratio did the trick!

    Someone gave me a bottle of commercial wallpaper remover, but I was afraid to use it with all of the warnings on the bottle!

  2. I am very happy to say that I have never had to take down wallpaper. I have heard no good stories about wallpaper and still wonder why people use it. I think its because they know they will just move and leave it behind for the suckers that buy their house.

    I have done a lot of patching, sanding, priming and painting so good luck on the next steps. 😉

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