One of the first things I did upon purchasing this little bungalow of mine was to peel the wallpaper from the bathroom walls. Or, rather, one of the first things I did was try to peel the wallpaper from the bathroom walls.
I didn’t really dig the brown flowers on the tan background. Too dreary and too brown. It was, after all, on the bathroom walls, and I just didn’t need any more emphasis on that color. So, I started ripping it down.
Underneath the brown flowers was an aqua and bone-colored pinstripe pattern. I really don’t like blue as a household color. I had painted the exterior of my home a steely gray/blue shortly after I moved in, and regretted it daily until three years ago when I covered it over with another color scheme. Now it is a fantasia of suede and mahogany hues, and my neighbors like it almost as much as I do. But blue pinstripes in the bathroom? No, thanks. So I started peeling that, too.
None of this was going nearly as easily as I had hoped. I would occasionally pull off an odd-shaped strip nearly as long as my forearm, but otherwise I was removing a nibble at a time, my progress becoming as patchy as the walls’ new appearance. Remnants of the brown flowers and the blue stripes remained on the wall when I got to the next layer - a paper skin that had inhumanely been covered with bright yellow paint. Yellow like those marshmallow Peeps that were always the last thing left in my Easter basket. It was a very unappetizing sight.
And there I stopped, about ten years ago.
This week, with considerably more time on my hands than I have had in the past several years, I decided to attempt a bathroom renovation. The bathtub surround is currently lying in pieces by the curb, and I have dozens of pictures of bathroom hardware spread across the dining room table. But, first, before anything else, I knew I had to bring down that wallpaper.
Previously, I had tried scoring the walls with a Papertiger, and spraying them with DIF, but neither approach yielded results. I jumped online and Googled “wallpaper removal.” The first several entries were paid advertisements for DIF, so I skipped them. Then I hit a series of entries that advocated the “green” use of vinegar. I hate the smell, so I continued. One witty website advised using fabric softener:
Mix equal parts of fabric softener and warm to hot water. Pour it into a clean spray bottle. Use one that’s sturdy as it will take a lot of hard use during your project. Some folks like vinegar and warm water in equal parts but the fabric softener seems to often do better.
I had recently purchased three bottles of Nice ‘n Fluffy at a fat discount, so I decided to try it. I opted for the wet and sloppy approach, and prepared the mixture in a painter’s tray. Then, using a roller on an extendable pole, I got a healthy dose of the now Hot ’n Nice ‘n Fluffy on the roller and began spreading it on the wall. My stanky bathroom smelled just like mountain rain!!
After two messy and drippy applications, do you know what happened? I reached up, ran the palm of my hand over a section of aqua pinstripes and they just slid away. Right into a goopy pile on the tile floor. It was a miracle! There was still some glue and backing paper left on the wall, but with the aid of a 3-inch scraping tool and another dose or two from the paint roller, it eased right off. I was left with a hideous mess on the floor, but also a beautiful bare plaster wall upon which I could now inflict my non-blue, non-brown, non-wallpaper bathroom artistry.
I’ll probably paint it white.