What is the best method for removing wallpaper?

If your wallpaper pattern has worn out its welcome, the prospect of removing it might seem a little daunting. But while wallpaper removal can be time-consuming, it is definitely a project the average DIY-er can handle.

Remove everything from the walls

Start by removing everything from the walls, including outlet, switch and telephone jack covers, and tape over the electrical components. Protect baseboards and trim with masking paper or tape and cover the carpet with a water-resistant drop cloth or plastic tarp. Then gather your supplies. Depending on what method you choose, you may need a ladder, a wallpaper scoring tool, a sponge or garden sprayer and a putty or drywall knife.

To remove the wallpaper, you’ll need to dissolve the adhesive. In most cases, hot water (or hot water mixed with a little white vinegar, mild detergent or fabric softener) will do the trick. Working in small sections to ensure the water stays warm enough, use a sprayer or sponge to wet the paper and then gently pull or scrape it off the wall. If you prefer to use a chemical solvent, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and always wear protective goggles and gloves.

wallpaper stripped

 

Use wallpaper steamers or “strippable” wallpaper

Wallpaper steamers are another option for wallpaper removal, and are especially effective on stubborn wallpaper. This method uses hot steam to melt the wallpaper adhesive so you can pull the paper off the wall. Wear work gloves to avoid burns and work in small sections, being careful not to oversaturate the walls. Regardless of the removal method you choose, if your wallpaper is coated in vinyl for extra durability, you might need to use a scoring tool to create small holes that allow the steam, water or solvent to penetrate the adhesive.

Some newer wallpaper styles are “strippable”; they can be pulled off of the wall without dissolving the adhesive. If that’s the case (find out by trying to pull up a corner), the job is even easier: just loosen the bottom of each strip of wallpaper and pull up gently to remove it from the wall. “Peelable” wallpaper, another type of wall covering, is also designed for simpler removal: the top vinyl layer peels off of the wall, leaving the backing behind. The backing can be removed with the water-stripping method.

Clean off adhesives

Once you’ve removed the wallpaper and backing from your walls, clean off the remaining adhesive using a diluted tri-sodium phosphate cleaner or household detergent. Then rinse the walls with a damp sponge and allow them to dry fully. If the walls were nicked or gouged during the removal process, simply fill the holes with a spackling compound. Sand the repaired areas once they’ve dried and your walls are ready for their new design.

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