removing wallpaper photo

Photo by firepile

When I inherited my cabin from my grandparents, I started making little changes for my family. Recently, I’d worked up to removing the wallpaper in rooms like the bathroom. I wanted to return my log cabin to a more natural feel.


The first step with any log cabin improvement project is the preparation. Since wallpaper removal often involves liquids, I needed to cover my floors and electric outlets. I used a plastic tarp, which I taped down with painter’s tape. I also applied the painter’s tape over the electrical outlets in the room, since water and electricity do not mix.

Attempting to Pry

I started my wallpaper removal with a 5-inch putty knife. I worked the blade into a seam and then tried to pry that square off. If I were lucky, the wallpaper would have come off in sheets. Since I am not fortunate, I needed to go through removing the wallpaper from my log cabin the hard way.

Scoring My Log Cabin Wall

The trick to removing wallpaper is the adhesive letting go. However, I faced the problem of bathroom wallpaper, which is water-resistant. I needed a way to get through the wallpaper and at the adhesive. That’s where my scoring tool came in.

A scoring tool is designed to perforate the wallpaper. This damage then lets the hot water solution I applied through. Using a scoring tool took a little practice to get the right pressure. I had to sand and refinish a few spots where I pressed too hard after I completed the process.

Working with Hot Water

I had two options for creating my hot water solution, vinegar or fabric softener. If I chose vinegar, I would need 1 part vinegar to 2 parts hot water. I chose the fabric softener route, which requires 1 part softener to 3 parts hot water. After mixing, I put it in a sprayer.

The trick with removing wallpaper is working when it’s wet. In the interest of not needing to respray, I worked in 4 foot by 4 foot sections. I sprayed the area, let the solution work its magic for three to five minutes, and then went to work with the putty knife.

The fabric softener worked like a charm for removing my wallpaper. I was able to move quickly, though I needed to remix my solution a few times to maintain the hot water. My wallpaper came off and went straight into a trash bag.

In the interest of safety, I flipped the room’s breaker and removed the electrical outlet plates. Then I safely removed the wallpaper from them using the same method. I was able to reinstall them without damage.

Removing the Last Adhesive

Across most of the wall, I did end up with stubborn adhesive still on the walls. I used the same hot water solution on it and was able to get it all off. Following up with a clean rag left me with clean walls ready to transform into the log cabin of my dreams.

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