Get easy tips for removing wallpaper borders. Removing wallpaper borders is an easy way to update your home.
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One of the first things that we did in our new house in Florida is take down the wallpaper borders.
Wallpaper borders were very stylish in the 1990s when my house was built. The previous owner must have loved them because they were everywhere.
Can you paint over wallpaper borders?
You should not paint over wallpaper borders. The edges will create a visible line on the wall.
We bought our house from flippers who didn’t finish the job and thank goodness! They did paint over the borders and I can see them through the barely-there layer of paint they used.
They also applied wall texture over them so hopefully, a new coat of paint will completely cover them.
Don’t do this. It’s so disrespectful to future owners.
Do things the right way, which is removing the wallpaper borders.
Luckily, most borders are really easy to remove!
Can I sand off wallpaper glue?
It’s far easier to wash it off. Use warm water, vinegar, and a sponge to wipe down the walls. A Scrub Daddy works great to remove excess glue.
As you work, feel the walls to make sure that they don’t feel slimy. When they feel clean, the glue is gone.
How to Remove Wallpaper Borders
Wallpaper removal works by soaking it with water. It’s the most effective when the water hits the paper backing on the wallpaper.
We worked on removing the wallpaper borders before our moving truck arrived. I own a wallpaper steamer, but I didn’t have it at the time.
It’s totally possible to remove wallpaper borders with minimal equipment.
Removing Wallpaper Borders
We had 2 rooms in our house with borders. One was extremely difficult to remove and the other was extremely easy.
Fingers crossed that you get the easy kind!
- Protect your floor with a tarp. This is a messy job. (If you forget, the paper dries and is easy to vacuum up though!)
- Peel away as much of the wallpaper as possible. Start in a corner or edge and pick at the paper. Loose bits are also a good place to start.
- If you’re lucky, the decorative part of the paper will come off and reveal the paper backing, which is easy to remove.
- Spray the wallpaper with warm water in 3 foot sections.
- Let the water soak in for a few minutes.
- Use the plastic putty knife to remove as much wallpaper as possible until you reach dry parts.
- Don’t worry about the tiny parts as you go. We’ll come back to those.
- Repeat steps 3-5 until you’re finished.
It might take a while, but it can be done with these simple steps.
Removing the Residue
At this point, most of the wallpaper should be gone. It’s important to remove the tiny bits and the glue residue before you can repaint your walls.
- Fill a bucket with warm water and a little vinegar.
- Use a sponge to scrub the walls to remove the leftover wallpaper bits.
- Rinse your sponge often.
- You might need to discard your water and replace it with clean water.
- Wash the walls as you go, touching the spot where the border was. It shouldn’t feel slimy.
- If it feels slimy, keep rinsing that area until it’s clean.
How to Remove Difficult Wallpaper Borders
Some wallpaper borders are stuck on better than most. Here are some tips to remove them.
- You might need to use a Paper Tiger tool. This is a tool that makes tiny holes in the wallpaper that allows water to soak through. Use it in a circular motion, making sure that you don’t press too hard and damage the walls.
- Another solution is to use a wallpaper steamer. You fill it with water, let it heat up, and apply the steam plate to the wallpaper. Use a plastic putty knife to help remove the paper as you go.
- Ready difficult wallpaper might need wallpaper remover chemicals. For me, this is the last thing I try. (I have a dog who likes to lick weird things…) Follow the instructions on the back.
When using these alternative methods, you will still need to clean the glue residue from the walls.
If your walls are in good shape, you can repaint them once they’re dry.
Simple wall repairs may be needed if your walls were damaged in the process.
One of the rooms in our home had pieces of duct tape stuck to the wall under the border. Removing the tape caused a lot of damage that had to be repaired.
Hopefully, your wallpaper borders come right off.
Tips for Removing Stubborn Borders
Our new house had borders attached that were impossible to remove. I’m pretty skilled at removing wallpaper at this point, but I was struggling.
All of my effort was just producing little crumbles. The previous homeowners either used the wrong glue to attach the border or the very cheap paint and textured walls were the culprit.
Here’s how I removed them.
- Remove as much as possible using the previous methods.
- Let the walls dry and sand away any loose bits of paper.
- Skim-coat the walls with joint compound (here’s a post about mudding drywall.)
- Let it dry and sand it smooth.
- Seal it with a strong primer before painting.
The walls aren’t perfect, but they are so much better than they were.
You might also like:
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- Repainting Stenciled Walls
- Removing Popcorn Texture Ceiling
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