When it comes to wallpaper, what goes up, must come down. If you're ready to give your walls a fresh start, the first step is learning how to remove wallpaper. Whether you'll be painting or re-papering, experts agree that taking down the old wallpaper is essential. Fortunately, you don’t need to hire a pro—it's a DIY project you can handle in a day. Read on to find out what you need to do to strip your wall coverings without damaging your walls. No matter what type of wallpaper you’re dealing with, we’ll show you how to remove it as painlessly as possible.
Begin by removing items from the walls and moving furniture to the center of the room, or out of the room if possible. Cover floors and remaining furniture with drop cloths to protect them from getting wet.
You’ll want to figure out whether your walls are plaster or drywall before you start peeling. Drywall can be damaged if gets too wet, so be careful not to over soak. It’s also important to determine what kind of wallpaper you’re working with. Use a putty knife to loosen a corner of the paper and try to peel it off. If it comes right off, then you have strippable wallpaper. (You lucky thing, you!) If the wallpaper peels away but leaves a paper backing, then you’re dealing with peelable wallpaper. If the paper doesn’t budge, then you have a traditional wallpaper that will need to be removed with water and a chemical stripper. (Sorry) Below, you'll find instructions for how to remove each type of wallpaper.
Use your putty knife to lift the corner of the paper. Use your hands to peel the paper from the wall, pulling as close to the wall as you can to avoid tearing the paper. If the paper does rip, loosen another corner and start again. Repeat the process around the entire room.
Once all the paper has been removed, clean the walls with soap and water to remove any residue. Allow the walls to dry completely before painting.
Combine hot water and wallpaper stripper according to the manufacturer's instructions. Pour the solution into a spray bottle or garden sprayer.
Use a spray bottle, garden sprayer, or paint roller to apply the solution to a small section of the wall, about 3’x3’. Let the solution sit and absorb for several minutes.
Use your putty knife to peel off the wallpaper, working your way up the wall. Be careful not to gouge the drywall as you scrape. Once the paper has been removed from the section, move on to the next area.
If the solution doesn’t absorb and the wallpaper is difficult to scrape, you may need to score the wall before applying the solution. Roll a scoring tool over the paper, making overlapping circles.
Wipe down the walls with soap and water to remove any residue. If there’s stubborn adhesive left behind, follow our guide on how to remove wallpaper glue.
Begin by peeling off the top layer of the wallpaper. Loosen the corner with a putty knife and pull the paper off the paper backing.
To remove the paper layer left behind, you’ll use the technique described above for removing traditional wallpaper.
If your wallpaper refuses to budge no matter how much you spray and scrape, you may need to use an electric steamer, which can be rented from a home improvement store.
Follow the manufacturer’s directions to prepare the steamer. You’ll add water to the steamer and let it heat up before beginning. Be sure to wear protective gloves and long sleeves so you don’t get burned by the steam or drips of hot water.
Hold the steamer to the wallpaper to loosen the adhesive. If you have drywall, be careful not to oversteam. Scrape the wallpaper off with a putty knife. If the steam doesn’t penetrate the wallpaper, use a scoring tool to make small holes in the paper. Continue the process of steaming and scraping until all the wallpaper is removed.
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