When we bought our home 2 years ago, it was covered in wallpaper. There were 7 rooms with wallpaper, borders or wallpaper and borders.
It took me almost a year to remove it all and I learned a lot of tricks along the way. Today, I’m sharing some tips and tricks for wallpaper removal.
Note: The scraper shown above will destroy your walls! Use a plastic one instead for wallpaper removal.
DIY Wallpaper Removal Tips
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What type of wallpaper is it?
Not all wallpapers are created equal! There are many different types of wallpaper and the type affects removal. For instance, vinyl wallpaper is tough to penetrate with water.
Age also matters. Older wallpaper (and old glue) can also be difficult to remove because it’s brittle. Thinner paper wallpapers are the easiest to remove.
Was the wallpaper professionally installed?
If you’ve just bought your house, chances are that you have no idea if it was a DIY job or a professional job.
We had knowledge that the previous neighbor owned a wallpaper store, so it was very likely that our house had professionally installed wallpaper. This made wallpaper removal more difficult. The pro’s put it on to stay!
How to Remove Wallpaper Borders
For the most part, wallpaper borders are really easy to remove. This is because most wallpaper borders were DIY jobs.
Remove as much as you can with your hands. Then use water and a scraper as outlined in the directions below.
Make sure to clean the walls to remove the wallpaper residue.
Can you just paint over wallpaper?
I don’t recommend this for a few reasons.
- Seams. No matter how much paint you apply, the seams are going to show through.
- It could peel in the future, leaving a mess on you walls.
- The most important reason NOT to paint wallpaper is that it is much harder to remove wallpaper after it has been painted. Respect future homeowners and do it the right way.
Removing Wallpaper from Walls
What is the best homemade wallpaper remover?
Some wallpaper is easily removed with water and a scraper. Just spray it and scrape once the paper is saturated. The water causes the glue to loosen.
This method causes the least amount of damage. I’ve even heard tales of some wallpaper being able to be pulled down in sheets with little to no effort! I’ll believe it when I see it.
The right tools make all the difference.
In my home, I was hesitant to use a paper tiger tool because I didn’t want it to damage the walls. It was a lifesaver though, especially in the kitchen where we had many layers!
A paper tiger tool is perfect for removing difficult wallpaper. It makes tiny holes in the wallpaper that allow the water to soak into the glue on the wall.
Just don’t push too hard. You want to puncture the paper, not the drywall. Be generous when you spray the wall with water.
Use old towels on the floor if needed.
Be cautious about using a wallpaper steamer.
I know that you’re feeling desperate, but if the wallpaper is thick, a wallpaper steamer won’t always work better. And if it does work, chances are it would have worked with water and a scraper anyways.
Save yourself the mess and chance of burning yourself. I used a wallpaper steamer because I was under the assumption that it was the correct method to use. It worked okay in some rooms, but in others it destroyed the walls.
Sometimes chemicals are necessary.
My kitchen had 3 layers and 2 borders! After countless hours of picking at it, and wasted effort with a steamer, I scored it well with the tiger tool and sprayed it with wallpaper stripper.
It still wasn’t easy, but it was the easiest method that I found for that particular wallpaper. And I tried everything!
Consider more wallpaper, maybe?
If there are multiple layers of wallpaper, consider just papering over them. Seriously. It will save you time. Wallpaper today is quite beautiful. You’re no longer stuck with ivy and fruit.
Sometimes there are no easy methods.
I’m going to say it. If the wall was not properly prepared for wallpaper, removal is going to suck.
There were times when I considered knocking the drywall out and just replacing it instead.
My Favorite Tools for Wallpaper Removal
- Paper tiger
- Plastic putty knife
- Spray bottle (fill with warm water)
- Liquid wallpaper stripper
- Sponges (I like these large ones because they cover more wall!)
Wall Prep After Wallpaper Removal
When the paper is gone, remember to wash the remaining glue off of the wall. I like to use a sponge and diluted vinegar. It does a great job. Wash it until the wall no longer feels sticky or slimy.
You will probably need to change your water or water/vinegar solution many times. make sure all of the paper backing is gone at this time, as well!
Fill all holes and sand. I like this spackle because it changes from pink to white when it’s dry. Remember to use primer so that your paint doesn’t show where you fixed the wall.
Paint will soak up differently in areas where spackle has been used and it will look funny. Read this post about the best way to paint your walls!
Congrats! You are now ready to paint your walls!
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