Bathroom Remodel From Hell: How to Remove Wallpaper in Just Four Years!

A special note to whoever installed this hideous wallpaper: there is a special room in hell, just for you.

This was our bathroom when we first moved in. That was 2008. Sometime in 2009 we moved the treadmill to the family room, because honestly, who wants a treadmill in the bathroom? Shortly after that, we ripped out the wallpaper. Or tried to.

We scored, we sprayed chemicals, we waited. We pulled and off came the paper, leaving a fuzzy wallpaper backing behind. We tried scoring again, and spraying more, stronger chemicals. With putty knives, we hacked away the sticky backing one inch at a time. That half wall behind the toilet? That took an entire day.

Over the next couple of years I'd return to the mess. The wallpaper itself was gone, but all the walls were discolored yellow fur. I'd try chemicals, hot water, fabric softener. All the things friends said would peel wallpaper off like a charm. But nothing worked.

By about 2011 the carpet had ground-in toothpaste, new gross stains in addition to the ones that were already there. So we ripped it up. Bare concrete with rusty nail heads along the baseboards, yellow-fur-lined walls. The bathroom was so nasty guests refused to use it. H@ll, even we refused to use it.

And then the amazing happened. It's now 2013 (obviously). I asked a man at church how to get nails out of concrete, and I Googled for wallpaper removal tips. After five or so pages of, "Dif!" and "Fabric softener!" one blogger mentioned removing wallpaper with vinegar. Wow, vinegar that I already use for everything from setting dyes to cleaning glass. What could it hurt? So I mixed up a bottle of half-vinegar, half-hot-water, and set to work.

An hour later, I'd cleared an entire wall of yellow fur. By the end of a weekend, our bathroom looked like this:

Ok, not much of an improvement, unless you'd seen the furry walls and rusty nails. The glue residue is now gone, the ceiling washed and prepped for fresh paint. We're almost done! The next post will likely have something to do with chalkboard paint, or lighting, or tile, or shopping for sink bases.

Sigh. I was so excited. I guess we're not almost done after all.