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Removing your old wallpaper, as you might already know, is a boring, messy, and time-consuming task, especially when you don’t employ the right techniques. Moreover, you should also know how to strip the wallpaper easily without causing any damage to your walls. However, if you follow the correct steps, you can complete this job in a more efficient manner. Therefore, we have compiled this step-by-step guide on how to remove wallpaper so that you can execute the project seamlessly and get your home ready for a fresh wall covering or a new coat of paint. Read on!

There are several methods to take down old, worn-out wallpapers. But the perfect technique completely depends on the type of wallpaper and how it was previously installed.

Step-by-Step Process on How to Remove Wallpaper:

wallpaper removalPhoto by liz west on flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Step 1: Prep Up Your Area

  1. Thoroughly scan your walls. Remove all obstacles that may obstruct your work. For example, there may be decorative items, wall hangings, pictures, electrical face plates, or telephone jacks. Remove all furniture that comes on the way. Cover electrical outlets and switches with plastic and tapes.
  2. Take a plastic drop cloth and lay it on the floor, while taping the edges over the baseboards so as to make a watertight seal. Put towels over the plastic sheet so that they absorb any water runoff from the walls.

Step 2: Check Your Wallpaper

  1. Waterproof and foil-type wallpapers are generally fixed by means of strong adhesives. These can be easily pulled away from the surface by simply stripping them off with your hands.
  2. In order to confirm the type of wallpaper, begin with one of the edges (toward the bottom) and attempt to peel it away using a putty knife or simply your hands. If it comes off easily without causing any damage to the underlying drywall, you can continue the process until the entire wallpaper is removed. If the paper is stubborn, use a razor knife. Make parallel cuts (not too deep), with gaps of around 10 inches each. Then pry away the wallpaper with your fingers. Any remaining scraps can be scraped away later with the help of warm water solution.
  3. However, if this is not the case, you might need to go either for the solvent or steam method.

Step 3: Employ the Solvent Method

  1. For this process, you need to purchase a liquid stripper concentrate. Check the label, read the instructions, and mix it with hot water.
  2. Next, get a wallpaper-perforating tool and make tiny holes across the surface. These devices come with rollers and small spikes and ensure that the solution penetrates the wallpaper, thereby, allowing the entire solvent to soak in and dissolve the glue. Be careful not to press too hard; else you might damage the drywall’s paper surface.
  3. Take a sponge or paint brush, dip it in the solution, and apply the liquid all over the wallpaper — starting with the bottom and covering one small section at a time. Leave it for at least 30 minutes.
  4. After half an hour, check the paper by trying to scrape it away with your fingers. If it is loose, you can begin the next step. Sometimes, you can see that the wallpaper has started to sag and is already pulling off from the surface.
  5. In the end, start to remove the paper with the help of a scraper or putty knife. You may need to repeat the steps for the more stubborn areas.

wallpaper removing scraperPhoto by syvwlch on flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Note: The majority of commercial solvents available in the market are caustic. Therefore put on gloves and eye gear to protect yourself from the harmful chemicals.

Step 4: Apply the Steam Method

Well, you can adopt this method only when the above two techniques fail. It is a lengthy process and requires you to steam and strip simultaneously. You might need to employ this procedure only when you have stiff, heavy, and old-style wallpapers, which have been on your walls for quite some time.

  1. Rent an electric steamer and get a wallpaper-perforating tool. Make tiny holes just like we described for the solvent method. Once this is done, keep the steamer pad over the surface, covering one section at a time. Hold it long enough so that the steam penetrates the paper and loosens the glue. Now, don’t keep it for too long. Otherwise, the drywall underneath will also get damaged.
  2. Once you see the wallpaper softening, start removing it with a scraper or putty knife, starting with the seams or edges of the perforations. Be careful not to strike too hard or you will end up tearing off the drywall below. Never use your hands because the superheated steam and wallpaper adhesive mix can burn your fingers.
  3. You might need to repeat the process for the more stubborn areas until the entire layer of wallpaper comes off.

Note: Steamers also release hot steam and super hot water. Therefore, always wear gloves and eye protection.

Step 5: Clean the Walls

Make a solution with a small portion of tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) and water. Take a sponge and rub the entire wall, removing all remaining traces of glue. Once the walls are clean, wipe down the wall with a moist towel or sponge.

There! We hope to have answered your question — how to remove wallpaper. Once all your hard work is over, you have a fresh wall, ready for a new coat of paint. You can also pick a striking wallpaper, as per your preference, and renovate the space with a creative, beautiful design.

How to Remove Wallpaper? A Step-by-Step Guide was last modified: April 27th, 2019 by Anisha Dutta
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