Removing Wallpaper

This story covers the process of removing wallpaper.


When you remove wallpaper, take it down the same way it went up -- in whole sheets, not pieces. To remove the wallpaper and adhesive without damaging the wall, you have several options -- removing the paper in layers, using wallpaper removal solutions (either liquid or gel), or steaming it off.

Removing a wall covering in layers requires stripping off the vinyl top sheet, then removing the paper backing with a liquid (a commercial product or a 1-to-16 solution of vinegar/water) or gel. If your wallcovering is a fabric-backed vinyl or strippable solid-surface vinyl, you can probably remove it in layers. Gels offer the advantage of clinging to the paper while they soak in and attack the starches in the wallpaper glue. Steaming is dangerous, both to operator and the wall, especially drywall.

Whatever method you use, turn off the power, remove all outlet and switch plates, and thoroughly protect switches and outlets with duct tape to prevent water or steam from entering and causing shorts when you turn the power back on.

Prestart Checklist

Several hours to two days, depending on the type of covering and size of the wall

Screwdriver, perforation tool, spray bottle or garden sprayer, rubber gloves, plastic bucket, scraper, sponge, drop cloths, 1-inch dowel rod (as long as wallpaper section is wide)

Using wallpaper-removing tools

Remove fixtures and outlet and switch plates and cover them with duct tape

Baseboard masking, solution for removing wallpaper

Stripping a layer: Step 1

Begin by peeling a corner of the top edge of a sheet of wallcovering away from the wall about 2 inches to give you an edge you can hold onto. Use a stripping knife to help strip the vinyl layer away from its backing.

Stripping a layer: Step 2

Hold a dowel against the flap of loose paper and roll the paper down around it. Continue rolling the covering about 8 to 10 inches. The dowel keeps the pressure spread evenly across the sheet of paper, which should reduce tearing.

Stripping a layer: Step 3

Hold the paper on the dowel with both hands and pull straight down, keeping the dowel close to the wall and wrapping as you remove the paper. This should minimize tearing the covering and damaging the drywall surface. If the paper starts to tear, roll the rest of it off the wall -- don't pull it. When all the top layer is off, use the methods on the next page to remove the backing and glue.

Using a liquid wallpaper remover: Step 1

Perforate the wallcovering with a perforation tool. Its teeth penetrate the surface and the perforations will allow the solution to soak through and soften the adhesive. Start at a top corner, working down and across the wall in large circles.

Using a liquid wallpaper remover: Step 2

Apply the wallpaper remover with a garden sprayer or spray mister. Spray the walls from the bottom up, working around the room in one direction. Apply the solution at least three times.

Using a liquid wallpaper remover: Step 3

When the walls are saturated, smooth 7-mil plastic sheeting over the surface with a wallcovering brush or squeegee, cut the plastic to fit around the moldings, and tape it at the top. This keeps the solution from evaporating so it can dissolve the glue. Leave the plastic in place overnight.

Using a liquid wallpaper remover: Step 4

Test the adhesive to determine if it will release the paper. Pull back a lower corner of the plastic and gently scrape open a seam. If the covering won't come loose easily, lift the plastic away at the top of the wall and resoak the covering. Smooth the plastic back and let the solution work for an additional 6 to 12 hours.

Using a liquid wallpaper remover: Step 5

When you can strip the paper easily, fold back about 4 feet of the plastic and anchor a corner with pushpins to keep the rest of the glue from re-adhering to the wall. Starting at the top, scrape off one section at a time. Keep the scraper low to avoid gouging the wall. Spray additional solution to keep the backing moist.

Comments (2)
patpayson wrote:

Repair textured walls

8/18/2013 11:53:43 AM Report Abuse
rlhamilton2291275 wrote:

Can you paint wall paper?

12/9/2010 06:19:05 PM Report Abuse
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