How to Remove Wallpaper

Are you over that eccentric wallpaper you were so excited about last season? Do you want to give your walls a fresh new look? Well, it’s time to remove the old wallpaper. While putting up a wallpaper is the easiest way to give your walls some personality, tearing it down is not as easy as you think. Usually, the adhesive used for wallpapers gets attached to the surface of your wall and if you tear your wallpaper down without a proper process, it may end up damaging your wall. If you have been wondering how to remove a wallpaper, this article covers it all.

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It is advised that you should renew your walls in due time to increase the value of your house. However, removing the wallpaper should not be done often as it can damage your walls. If you want to go for a new wallpaper, it’s best to remove the old one and go for some timeless styles that will appeal to you for longer.

You should know that the process of removing a wallpaper depends on the type of wall you have and the type of wallpaper you have. The traditional wallpapers may require more efforts and tools while a peelable wallpaper may be easier to remove.

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Before you put your work pants on, here is the checklist of all the things that you need for wallpaper removal:

  • A putty knife or scraper tool
  • A Screwdriver
  • A scoring tool
  • A pressure sprayer
  • Hot water
  • vinegar/fabric softener
  • Rag
  • Safety glasses
  • A plastic tarp
  • A painter’s tape

Steps for Wallpaper Removal

Now that you have all the necessary materials, lets begin with the steps

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Step 1: Prep up The Wall

Begin by removing all the wall art and paintings from the wall. Since a solvent would be sprayed on to your wall, you must protect the floors by using a plastic tarp. Use the painters tape to cover any electrical outlet. The final bits of wallpaper from the taped area can be removed later. Make sure that you turn the power off from the main breaker.

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Step 2: Use a Scraper/putty Knife to Pry the Wallpaper

No matter how thin your wallpaper looks, it has two layers, the outer layer is usually coated with vinyl and the inner layer is the adhesive layer. Taking off these layers needs proper prying. Prying the wallpaper should be the next step after prepping your wall. For this, use a putty knife or a scraper to start removing wallpaper from one of its edges. If you have a peelable wallpaper, the peeling may be easier otherwise, scrape the wallpaper with your tools. Be careful and do not overdo the scraping, this might damage your wall

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Step 3: Score the Wallpaper

If your wallpaper has been on your wall for a long time, you might have to loosen up the adhesive layer. For this, generally a hot water solution is used. However, if your wallpaper is pasted on your kitchen or bathroom wall, chances are that it is water resistant. This gives you all the more reason to score the wallpaper. This tool helps in scraping of the outer coated layer which gives you access to the inner adhesive layer. Once this layer is scored off, the hot water solvent can easily penetrate into the adhesive layer. Make sure to score the wallpaper gently or else it can puncture the wall underneath that may call for some damage repair after peeling wallpaper.

Hot Water Solvent for wallpaper removal

Step 4: Prepare the Hot Water Solvent

After scoring down the wallpaper, you need to spray a hot water solvent onto your walls. While you can buy this solvent in any hardware store, here is a more effective homemade solution that professionals often opt for. For this, you need to mix hot water with fabric softener or cooking vinegar. Pour this solution onto a pressure sprayer. If you don’t have a pressure sprayer and just a normal spray bottle, give this solution an extra shake.

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Step 5: Spray the Solvent and Scrape It Off

Before you start spraying the solvent, make sure you are wearing safety glasses. There is a possibility of this spray getting into your eyes or the possibility of tiny scrapped particles getting into your eyes. Your safety glasses thus become an important gear.
Now spray the hot water solvent section-wise. At a time, only spray on a four feet wide section. Wait for a few minutes to allow this solution to dissolve the adhesive. Then begin scraping the section using your scraper tool or the putty knife. If some parts of the section feel like they have still not absorbed the solvent, spray more solvent directly on these parts and start scraping after 2 or 3 minutes.

You should then move on to the taped area. Check again and ensure that the breaker outlet is switched off. Instead of spraying the solvent on these areas, use a rag soaked in this solvent and run it over the wallpapered parts. Scrape these bits after a few minutes.

photo of rag for wallpaper removal

Step 6: Clean the leftover adhesive

For wallpapers that have been on the wall for a long time, the adhesive may become very strongly attached to the underlying wall. This is why you will notice some gluey parts of your wallpaper still stuck to your wall. Make sure you do not directly scrape these off. Ensure that you use a rag or the pressure sprayer to apply the solution. Using the scraper tool or putty knife directly may puncture your wall. Once all wallpaper is removed, run a rag soaked in the solvent one more time and gently scrub the wall using this rag. Apply gentle pressure only.

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With these 6 steps, you can easily remove wallpaper. However, if your walls are old and weak, consider getting professional help in order to not damage your walls further. Once the wallpaper is removed, you should paint your walls with an oil-based primer. This will restore the damage and prepare your walls for the next master piece.