Tips for Wallpaper Removal

Wallpaper removal is one of those tasks that nearly every homeowner faces, but none ever look forward to. It can be a time consuming and frustrating job. Additionally, if not done correctly, you can damage your walls, making it harder to get a good paint job or get new wallpaper to look good. Here are a few tips if you are planning on tackling this job yourself:

  • The best method for removing wallpaper depends on what type of wallpaper you are taking down. A quick tip to determine this is:
    • Remove an outlet or light switch faceplate. This will help you determine if you have more than one layer of wallpaper on your wall and if you have drywall or plaster walls.
    • Tear the edge of the wallpaper.
    • If it comes off in strips or large pieces, you should remove the paper in a dry state first. It will likely leave behind the backing or paste, which will then require a wet removal process.
    • If it comes off in small pieces, you should start with a wet removal process.
  • Before you start, be sure to cover your floors and furniture with a drop cloth to protect them. Also, make sure you have the necessary tools, including: a sponge; a sanding sponge; a flexible putting knife/scraper (six inches or so in width); a single-edged razor blade; and a garden sprayer (a plant mister probably won’t dispense enough liquid for the job).
  • Once you’ve finished any dry removal that’s needed, spray the wall and let it soak in. You can test sections of the paper, backing or paste to see how long it needs to soak (it could need as much as 30 minutes and more than one spraying).
  • Use the scraper and sponge for removal. Only use the sanding sponge if needed in tough areas. Use the razor blade around fixtures, utility boxes, etc.
  • It’s not recommended to paint over wallpaper or paste or apply new wallpaper over existing. This can result in problems if the first layer peels or bubbles.
  • Only use a scoring/perforating tool as a last resort. Perforating wallpaper will mean you can’t remove it in large pieces. As well, it can damage the integrity of the wallboard or plaster.