Removing the Wallpaper in the Laundry Room

March 10, 2021

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Some of our readers were really apprehensive about us putting up wallpaper in the playroom, Greta’s room, Faye’s room, and Polly’s room, and usually those people have had terrible experiences with removing wallpaper. Now that we have removed the wallpaper in the laundry room, we completely get it. What a pain! You’re kind of at the mercy of whoever installed the wallpaper, and there’s no guarantee they followed all the proper preparation steps. Priming is key, and if you don’t prime the walls before installation, then whoever decides to remove it will basically have a big sticky mess on their hands. Just to be clear, we have primed EVERY time we have installed wallpaper, and just in case the future-home owners decide it’s not for them, removal should be a lot easier (fingers crossed).

But back to the laundry room. We wanted to give it a little face-lift before selling, and that included removing the yellow, ornate wallpaper that just wasn’t my style. Once we peeled up a little corner and saw how stubborn it was coming off, we had a hunch the walls weren’t primed beforehand. Enter in lots of research to figure out the best way to go about this task, and lots of trial and error. This was quite the project so we wanted to share a few techniques that we tried, and also a possible solution that might work better if you find yourself in the same “sticky” situation.

Google found this wallpaper removal kit from Lowe’s for us. Basically how it works is you first score the wallpaper all over, mix the concentrate with warm water, soak a rag in the solution, and wipe the rag directly on the wallpaper. After about 15 minutes it’s just supposed to scrape off. “Supposed to” is the key phrase here. We didn’t have much luck with that, so we turned to plan B.

We already had this industrial power steamer that we originally got for cleaning floors so we gave that a try. We steamed an area, slowly peeled, and scraped away. Steam, peel, steam, peel… and it was coming off! I mean, it still wasn’t coming off very easily, but it was working better than the kit we tried. We just kept on going with this because it was the best we knew how to do.

After the fact, we actually got a lot of messages on Instagram recommending this removal product called SimpleStrip. It’s a kit that comes with these sheets that adhere to the wall, and penetrate the solution deep into the wallpaper. Plus the sheets are reusable. Hindsight is 20/20, but I do have a feeling we might be using this kit in a future house? Time will tell.

The removal left behind some peeling paint and ultimately we had no choice than to skim-coat the walls afterwards. I don’t think this is a typical step if the wallpaper comes off cleaner but our walls were pretty damaged. Skim coating doesn’t actually take too much time and we do have a little tutorial if you want to try it out, but just a little lesson to the wise; do yourself and future generations a favor and always prime before you install wallpaper.

Our original plans for this room were to try a new wall treatment we’ve never done before – limewashing. Unfortunately, the limewash samples we ordered a month ago have not arrived yet, plus even after selecting the finish we like, we would have to wait even longer for the product to arrive so I don’t think it’s in the trajectory anymore. Instead, I turned to my trusty paint deck and decided on Alabaster for the walls (the same white paint in the rest of our house), and Argos for the cabinets.

A little reminder of what the laundry room looked like before.

…and currently. We also took the trim off the drying racks, and we’re going to add a little siding piece and paint it all the same color as the cabinets. Here’s a little moodboard we put together to better represent the face-lift it’s getting. I think the rug and art will tie it all together nicely.



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What do you think?

  1. Looks like a lot of work but your article made it look like an easy task.

  2. Kattie J Larvick says:

    So funny, I came to your page because I am conquering my first diy’s and need ideas for peel and stick wallpaper! You just happen to be redoing your laundry and ripping down wallpaper! Can’t wait to see how yours turns out!

  3. M Nelson says:

    I have 4 rooms in the house that I am going to remove wallpaper from I bought a steamer from menards for $50 cheaper than renting. After several attempts I found what works best is to start at the top of the wall place the steamer there for about 20 seconds remove the head and pull the paper down tearing about as wide as the head is put the steamer back on the wall just below the pealed wallpaper walk the steamer slowly straight down the wall pulling the paper at the same time keep the paper right at the top of the steamer. The paper will tear and you can remove a piece full length top to bottom if you want. It will take 3 times to remove 1 sheet of wallpaper. Steady progress not hard work. This left a lot of glue on the wall witch I washed with a sponge and some tsp soak the wall and scrape with 6” putty knife. Then washed and rinsed again wall was clean and painted well. I did score the paper 1st and the drywall was primed no damage to the wall primer did come up in a few places and I did patch over them as it would show thru the new paint

  4. Kate says:

    I am about to wallpaper my laundry room. It is already painted. Should I paint the walls w/ a primer before I paper them, or should I be OK since they are already painted?

  5. Jen says:

    It’s going to come together & be gorgeous! Did you have your drying racks made or purchase them somewhere? Thanks!

  6. Jill says:

    Many years ago in my first home, I had the powder room wallpapered by a professional. The walls were painted. Years later I attempted to remove it when my tastes changed. After a couple hours of attempting it, I hired the removal out to a professional too. I have never used wallpaper again and most likely never will after that experience. Maybe the peel and stick kind, but probably not!

    You guys have way more energy than I do! I know the laundry room will look fantastic, just like the rest of the house.

  7. Julia Broughton says:

    I have had experience removing wallpaper in 3 houses: my parents’ old 1890’s Victorian where the wallpaper was from the 1920’s, my parents’ “newer” 1970’s house with original papering, and now our own 1950’s mid-century home. I must agree with the other comment that I believe plaster was a far superior wall material. Even if the paper is glued on and papered over, and even painted over, enough time and moisture and scraping can get you back to bare plaster, which is relatively easy to repair. I just wish plaster walls were more affordable for when we have needed to do renovation work.

  8. Lina López says:

    Julia, whats do you mean when you said primer? The same primer you use before painting or their is a different process?

  9. Michelle says:

    Having spent considerable time removing wallpaper, I’ll add that there is a significant difference between removing it from plaster walls – where steam heat and elbow grease will eventually remove all the glue and paper to a clean finish. Wallpaper on sheetrock (dry wall) is less amendable to steam removable, in my experience. Because truly soaking the paper and heating/softening the glue also soaks through the surface of the dry wall, causing it to separate. May be why you needed to skim coat.

    Will also note that most big box stores rent wallpaper removal equipment, so you don’t need to invest in a single purpose tool.

    • Michelle says:

      Additional thought: For years, people just papered OVER existing wall paper. But for the LOVE of all that is pure and right in the world, please do not paint over wallpaper. THAT is a removers nightmare.

  10. Louize says:

    I had to remove 5 layers of wallpaper from my whole apartment when I moved in – what worked best for me was fabric softener in warm water in one of those pump garden spray bottles – I scored the paper, sprayed it to really soak it, left it a while and then peeled it off – it didn’t come off easily, but I was dealing with 80 years of layering!!

  11. Julie S says:

    I bet you’re getting all the wallpaper stories for sure!!! We had a houseful of wallpaper and removed about half of it prior to move-in. After a year and a half hiatus I finally felt recovered enough to remove it in the hall bathroom… now a year after THAT I’m tackling our master bedroom which is pretty tough stuff! Only our bathroom paper is now left and we might gut it so I’m in no rush. Everywhere in our home the paper was applied over satin sheen paint and knockdown texture, but has still been a huge chore to remove even with a scoring tool and steamer. I think real glued on paper is always hard to get off. Maybe smooth walls are easier?

  12. Katie says:

    There are multiple rooms in my mother’s home that need the wallpaper removed and I’m dreading it. (My husband and I are currently living there while between homes and we are doing as many DIY projects as possible to help her out!) My one previous experience was not good! Very tempted to try the Simple Strip kit and see if it will help…

    On a positive note, I’m loving that art print and can’t wait to see how you frame it so I can copy it for my next home :)

  13. Annie says:

    What do you mean by prime? Prime with paint? A special wallpaper primer? Just curious so we do it right the first time!

  14. Lori says:

    Not to throw more work your way???? but wouldn’t it be nice to recess the drying racks into the wall they stick out so far!? Not sure if there’s anything on the interior of wall that would prevent that from happening?

    Wishing you well wishes on your wrap up!

  15. Breanna says:

    What color did you paint your ceiling? We are going to be doing SW Alabaster in our laundry room & upstairs bathroom (with no window) and I’m undecided on painting the ceilings bright white or using alabaster as well. My first time painting our whole home alone. Decisions!

  16. Venita says:

    I have ptsd from wallpaper removal in our first little house. If I were you, I may have decided the laundry room would look great with boards on the wall, bc I don’t like the tedious stripping! I think this space will look great! I look forward to seeing you lime wash in your new space! Love you guys!

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