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Something I never thought I would write: A tutorial on how to remove decoupage from a bathroom sink and countertop.
Perhaps you decoupaged something and no longer like the way it looks or you want to update whatever you covered with layers of paper and Mod Podge. Or maybe–like me–you moved into a new home and absolutely abhor the decoupaged master bathroom sink and counter and have to get rid of it to keep your sanity.
This project seriously took an entire week to finish, but by cutting out all the things that didn't work for me, you may be able to cut a couple day's time off.
What Didn't Work to Remove Decoupage
Girl, what is decoupage?
Decoupaging something is very similar to paper-mâché. Both include pieces of paper adhered to a surface. Neither should be done to your sink or countertop. EVER.
Since the paper is glued down to a surface with an adhesive, this surface should not be a place that gets wet. Sinks and countertops surrounding sinks are not ideal decoupaging surfaces. When adhesives get wet, (especially Mod Podge) it tends to become tacky again. Needless to say, there was a lot of icky mold underneath the layers of paper and glue that I ripped up, especially near the drain.
Where to Start
I tried Goo Gone. It literally did NOTHING. I scrubbed the heck out of the countertop and sink basin with steel wool. It also didn't do anything to aid in the removal of this laminated-like surface covering my sink and counter.
So don't do that. Instead, I got a roll or shop towels and soaked a bunch of them in water. I laid the drenched and dripping blue paper towels all over the counter. I stopped the sink and filled it to the brim with water. I covered the shop towels with plastic (Saran) wrap. I walked away and came back hours later to check on the progress.
The countertop was now somewhat sticky and soft. The formerly plastic-like covering was now sort of pliable. I cut and sliced at it with a box cutter. and was able to get layers of it up. I started near the sink since it was the most saturated. This took hours, but it actually worked. I spent a few hours for multiple days scraping up and cutting at layers until it was all gone. I'd leave the soaked shop towels on it overnight with plastic wrap when I was done for the day because once it dries out you have to soak it all over again.
Once I got all the way down to the original first layer of adhesive, I used Goof Off Professional Strength. It took half the bottle, but it was effective and worked quickly at removing the final layer.
I also scratched at it with my fingernails a lot. They were effective, but I do not recommend this. I have spent weeks growing them back out from the tattered, broken messes they became. Get a razor blade scraper, it works great and won't hurt or damage your nails.
I assume whoever decoupaged it in the first place was trying to cover up the cream color it has and the scratched up surface around the drain. I, too, wanted to get rid of this color and the gray scratch lines near the drain once I saw them. That's where Homax Tough As Tile in white came in.
Tough As Tile is an epoxy that leaves a new bright white surface that looks like porcelain behind after being painted on. One can is enough to do two sinks OR one bathtub. I feel as though one can could cover two sinks AND a tub, but that's not the suggestion on the packaging.
Quick Tough As Tile Tips
A roller is INFINITELY easy to use than a paint brush. Get multiple because this stuff requires two coats, and you will HAVE to throw away the paint brush or rollers you use for the first coat. Get a respirator and safety goggles– this stuff is strong. (And will NOT come out of the leggings you just bought with pockets. Sad face.)
I didn't realize it at the time, but I have a couple drippy marks in my sink basin from areas that got a thicker coat and bled down later. This epoxy is super runny our of the can, but turns into a stiff glue very quickly. It is a pain to work with and if you don't catch drips in within a couple of minutes, it might be too late to try to smooth it out afterwards.
You can really tell the color difference in this photo. I have plans to cover up the counter top with heavy duty marble contact sheets, but I ended up putting a coat on the counter as well just in case I change my mind.
Now I just need to update the hardware on the drawers, and patch up and paint the walls. The previous homeowner who did this glued the paper to the wall where the backsplash meets it, so a lot of the textured wall came off with the pieces.
May you never need this tutorial; God give you patience if you do!