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How to Remove Wallpaper

02 Oct 2020

Knowing how to remove wallpaper so you can put up a new option from our selection is an easy weekend DIY. Check out our steps here!

How to Remove Wallpaper

Removing wallpaper is much easier to DIY than you think. Though it seems like quite a large task, you certainly don’t have to be a professional in order to get the job done. Take these simple steps to help your wallpaper removal journey go as smoothly as possible.

1. Clear the Space

Step one is to remove all items from the walls you will be working on, as well as any furniture or breakables in the room. It would be best to remove all items, large or small, from the room if possible.

2. Turn the Power Off

This step is important, as you will soon be dealing with the electrical outlets in the room you’re renovating. Go to your breaker and cut the power to the room.

3. Cover Floors and Electrical Outlets

Leave outlet covers on and, using painter’s tape, carefully cover the entire façade of the outlet. Make sure to wrap the edges properly. Once those are taken care of, lay down a drop cloth or large plastic tarp, which can be secured to the floor with your painter’s tape.

4. Investigate the Type of Wall and Wallpaper

Before you dive into the fun part of scraping and peeling, you need to determine if your walls are plaster or drywall. This will come in handy later when you start the soaking process.

5. Using a Scraper, Pry up the Wallpaper

See if you can first loosen a corner and peel. If you’re lucky and it starts to come off, that means that you have strippable wallpaper that will probably not require soaking. Most types of wallpaper include several layers though. The outer layer, which you will first pry up, is usually made of bamboo, vinyl, textile, or paper. The inner layer acts as the adhesive and is in most cases paper. Take a large scraper and begin to chip away at the outer layer. It is easiest if you find an edge and try to start there. Once you have lifted a portion, attempt to peel the wallpaper down. If it does not come off as planned, continue to scrape away in a downward motion. Ideally, it will come off in sheets.

6. Score the Wallpaper with a Scoring Tool

Use a wallpaper scoring tool to gently perforate the covering. This is the step you can take secondarily if the solution doesn’t absorb as expected and the wallpaper is difficult to get off. The scoring technique will eventually allow the hot water solution to get under the paper and loosen up the adhesive so that the remnants come off easier. When scoring the wall, don’t use too much pressure as you can accidentally puncture through the thin layer and into the sheetrock or plaster. This will only add extra work at the end of your project because you will have to spend additional time puttying the wall to get it back to a smooth finish so that you can lay the next wallpaper properly.

7. Implement Hot Water Solution

There are two ways to make an effective hot water solution with household items. The first is to mix ¼ fabric softener with ¾ of hot water. The second is to mix 1/3 vinegar with 2/3 hot water. You will probably need to experiment with both solutions to decide which works better on your type of wallpaper. Place your solution into a spray bottle or a household pressure sprayer. If you decide to use the pressure sprayer, wear goggles, and anticipate large pieces of wallpaper falling onto the floor. The good news is that your tarp will catch everything and make for easy cleanup at the end.

8. Apply Solution to Wall and Scrape Off Remaining Wallpaper

Once you’ve used your spraying device, wait 2-3 minutes to allow the solution to fully penetrate the wallpaper. Then use your scraper to pry at one of the corners and remove a section of wet wallpaper and the backing. Pull the wallpaper off in sheets if possible, and let it fall onto the floor or into the trashcan. Continue to remove all wet pieces of wallpaper until you need to spray the remaining dry bits. Repeat the process until as much wallpaper is removed as possible.

If none of these soaking and scraping techniques work, you can use a household, electric clothes steamer, or a more official one from a home improvement store, and run it up and down the walls to loosen up the adhesive. Do not place the steamer directly on the wall. Instead, let it hover an inch or two away.

Once finished, revisit the electrical outlets. Before touching them, make sure the breaker is off so that no power is running to the outlet. Remove the painter’s tape and cover. Take the scraper and chip off the remaining wallpaper around the outlet. If the smaller pieces don’t want to come off, wet the area with the hot water solution and try scraping again after a few minutes.

9. Clean the Walls

If there is still adhesive on the walls at the end of all of this, gently remove it by wetting it with the hot water solution again, and scrape it with your tool. Use a clean, damp rag to wipe down the walls.

10. Completion Congratulations!

You’ve just successfully removed your wallpaper through a DIY project. The next step is to prep your walls with an oil-based primer if you’re intending to paint. Otherwise, take the steps to prepare to lay brand-new wallpaper.