How to Remove Wallpaper (the easy way!)

Flowers and kittens or paisley and unicorns, everyone’s had an unfortunate wallpaper moment in their life. Don’t worry. All hope is not lost. You don’t have to be stuck with the poor decorating choices of the previous homeowners (or yourself) forever. Removing wallpaper can be a painless process with the right tools, the right preparation, and a little bit of luck.

How-to-Remove-Wallpaper-the-easy-way

If you don’t like to read, you can watch the movie about How to Remove Wallpaper

Step One: Prepare

This is going to be one sticky job. Move whatever furniture you can out of the room and cover the floors and remaining furniture with sheets or drop cloths. Because you’re going to be working with water, consider shutting off the power to the room while you’re working, and definitely cover all electrical outlets and switches with tape before starting to remove the wallpaper.   It’s going to be wet so if you have carpet it would be a good idea to cover it with plastic as well as cloth drop sheets so its absorbs the water.

Step Two: Figure out what you’re dealing with.

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Is your wall plaster or drywall? This is important to know once you get started: while plaster walls can stand up to the rigors of a steam bath or scrubbing with hot water, drywall can easily start to fall apart with too much moisture, so more care has to be taken. Determining which type of wall you have can be as easy as knocking in several places. If it sounds hollow, it’s probably drywall.

Here’s where the luck comes in: if the wallpaper you’re removing is newer, it will be much easier to remove the wallpaper. Some wallpapers now are even designed to be easy-strip.

Step Three: Removal

  • Easy-Peel Wallpaper

Try to find a corner and give it a little pull. If it starts to come away easily, say a prayer of thank you to the DIY Gods for giving you an easy job. With a bit of patience, wallpaper will peel right off, leaving only a bit of glue behind. Get the walls bared and proceed to Step Four.

  • Peel-able Top Layer

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There is another type of newer wallpaper that comes away in two parts, the top plastic wallpaper layer and the bottom paper layer. If you test a corner and find that the top comes away easily but leaves a thin layer of paper, this isn’t bad either.

Apply hot water to the wall with a sponge, paint roller, or in a spray bottle and let it soak for several minutes. This is where you have to be careful with your drywall. You do want to loosen the adhesive of the paper backing without soaking through the drywall behind it. When the paper has been softened, scrape and peel it off. You can use a plastic putty knife to help with this part, but again be careful of your drywall: you don’t want to leave gouges that will be hard to fill. Once you’ve gotten rid of all the wallpaper, proceed to Step Four.

  • Traditional wallpaper

If you test a corner and cannot remove the paper without any serious scraping, you’ve got traditional wallpaper. Curse the DIY Gods for your bad luck and get ready to work.

  • First, score or sand the wallpaper you want to remove. This will allow the steam or stripping solution to penetrate the wallpaper and glue behind it more easily. If you don’t have a sander on hand, you can buy a wallpaper scorer, or even just use a fork, a razor blade, or a pizza cutter.
  • Next, mix up a wallpaper-stripping solution. While you can buy chemicals specifically designed for the task, a 70-30 solution of water and vinegar or fabric softener works just as well. Use the hottest water you can stand to handle, and mix it up in small batches to keep it from cooling off.
  • Using a sponge or spray bottle, apply the solution to the wall. Try to work in small sections, saturating only what you can get done in about fifteen minutes before moving onto the next section. Give the solution several minutes to loosen the wallpaper glue before starting to peel and scrape it off. Use a plastic putty knife or a plastic spatula, and try to peel upwards, keeping a low angle of incline. This process can get very sticky, and may require multiple applications of the stripping solution before you’re done.
  • Alternatively, look into buying or renting a steamer from a hardware store. The process is much the same as when applying a wallpaper-stripping solution. Lightly steam a small area of the wall, giving the steam several minutes to work away at the adhesive. Scrape it off with a putty knife or spatula, working in small sections. When the wallpaper’s finally gone, proceed to Step Four.

Step Four: The Cleanup

With wallpaper removal solution, soap, and hot water, wash any remaining glue or paper residue off the walls.

Step Five: Admire Your Work

Stand back and admire your wallpaper-removal skills and hard work.

Step Six: Keep Going

Now that your walls are bare, ready, and hopefully not sticky, you can get ready to prime and paint or re-wallpaper your dream space.

The main thing is that removing wallpaper is a time consuming tedious process. So patience is a virtue and be diligent as well.

Watch this video, which is about How to Remove Wallpaper

However, you want to get rid of this really old, dreary, outdated wallpaper that has been on those walls for decades. The problem is, you realize the cost of stripping the wallpaper is excessive. To make matters worse, you have a 70 year old plaster walls and are in danger of ruining them. What can you do?

Believe it or not, there is a way to paint on top of wallpaper and have it turn out really amazing. Read this new article to find out How to Properly Paint on Top of Wallpaper

As a full service painting contractor, at Home Painters Toronto wallpaper removal is a common request for a lot of our projects. We specialize in this process and can do this for you if you this is your home renovation project. Please feel free to check out our other tutorials on home renovation projects, or browse our Pinterest boards for inspiration.

For a free quote, we encourage you to call us at 416.494.9095 or email us at Brian@HomePaintersToronto.com and we will be happy to help you!

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