Removing Wallpaper: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Removing Wallpaper: A Step-by-Step Guide

Staff Writer · Apr 16, 2010

Removing wallpaper may sound like a complicated job, but if you follow a few simple directions it can be an easy do-it-yourself project. You may have wallpaper that was already in the house when you moved in, that just doesn’t match your style of decor or you may have just grown tired of some you picked yourself. If the wallpaper was hung correctly, using primed drywall it should be fairly easy to remove. You will need a screwdriver, a wallpaper piercing or scoring tool, a spray bottle, water and vinegar.

Getting Started

Some wallpaper is designed to peel off in strips without the need for soaking it. Try to peel off a strip of the wallpaper in a corner and after you have a good size piece to grab on to, slowly pull towards you. If it is this type of wallpaper, it should peel off in one complete piece and you will be finished in no time. If you only get little scraps of paper to peel off here and there then it is going to require more work on your part to get the wallpaper off. This is the more common scenario so don’t be discouraged. To start with, use a screwdriver to remove any electrical outlet covers and light switches.

Scoring the Wallpaper

Wallpaper needs to be wet down in order to make the wallpaper paste lose its stickiness but water will not soak through most wallpaper very easily. This is where the wallpaper piercing or scoring tool comes in. You can try using other tools but these tools specifically designed for this purpose work best. Most of the tools easily fit in the palm of you hand and can be rubbed back and forth on the walls from the top all the way to the bottom. It does not need to be done in an specific way as long as much of the surface is pierced.

Wetting Down the Wallpaper

Get a small spray bottle or use a leftover one from a cleaning liquid. You can use just plain water in it, but many people recommend a mixture of water and vinegar. Wallpaper paste remover is also sold at hardware stores if you prefer to use that. Spray all of the wallpaper with whatever mixture you have decided on. Get the entire wallpaper covered in it. A sponge and bucket may be used to apply the solution to if this makes it easier to cover large areas than a spray bottle. Wallpaper steamer machines are another option to this wetting down process, they can be rented at hardware stores.

Peeling Off the Wallpaper

After wetting down the wallpaper you will want to let it sit for at least half an hour. After this time grab a corner and slowly start pulling. The Wallpaper should come off in fairly big pieces if not in whole strips. There are bound to be small pieces that do not peel off and those will need to be scraped off with a utility knife. Wash the walls to remove any glue remaining on them before attempting to paint.

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