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.
Wallpaper Removal Tips
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!
Always start with warm water and a plastic scraper.
If you’re lucky, some wallpaper is easily removed with water and a scraper. Just spray it and scrape once the paper is wet. The water causes the glue to loosen. This method will cause 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.
I was hesitant to use a 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! Just don’t push too hard. You want to puncture the paper, not the drywall. Then spray it with water so that it gets under the paper.
Be cautious about using a wallpaper steamer.
I know that you’re feeling desperate, but if the wallpaper is thick, a steamer won’t work better. And if it does work, chances are it would have worked with paper 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 the chemicals. It still wasn’t easy, but it was the easiest method that I found. 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. It would have been faster! I’ve also read about ways to seal it with primer and paint over it.
My Favorite Tools for Wallpaper Removal
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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.
Congrats! You’re now ready to paint your walls!