Weighing in on Wallpaper

19 Jan

I guess you could say I have been extremely lucky in that before now I have never lived in an apartment with wallpaper.  For the most part I’ve always had the typical “renters white” paint… which can be repainted easily, and where the holes can be filled in with toothpaste.  Love it.

However with our new home I can now officially say that I have spent some real quality time with wallpaper…. removing it that is… and I’d love to share some of the things I learned along the way!  

First thing’s first. Wallpaper removal gets a really bad rap!  Now if there are multiple layers of paper on the wall, or even worse, paper that’s been painted over (eek!) that’s a whole different ball park.  However to remove just one layer, all you need is a few basic materials and little bit of patience to get the job done.

Jenny’s Wall Paper Removal Tips:

1. Try dry peeling first.  There are some types of paper that will come off pretty nicely with just a dry pull.  Use a scraper to get under the seam and pull away at a 45 degree angle.  

2. If this doesn’t work (which it didn’t for us), you gotta score and soak the walls before peeling.
To score the walls, I highly recommend grabbing one of these nifty scoring tools.  

Via Amazon

By running it along the wall, it creates small holes in the wallpaper (while not harming the wall behind it) and this allows the liquid formula to really soak the paper and the glue behind it, making it easier to pull away from the wall.

3. Next, let’s get soakin!  We used both a chemical solution:

Via Amazon

As well as a more natural solution (just mix white vinegar and water) and both worked great.
Simply add the solution to a spray bottle ($1 at Home Depot) so it’s easy to apply, and SPRAY AWAY!  Be VERY liberal here!

So to recap…

Score, Soak… and if an area gets dry… Soak again!

4. Now onto the fun part.  It’s removal time!  You can use a basic scraper like this:

via Amazon

Or to really help the job, pick up a wallpaper shaver like this:

This Old House

My dad brought one of these, and we all fought over it.  It’s really nice because you can change the blade to keep it nice and sharp.  But be careful not to gouge the wall!

So starting at one of the seams, try and pull a corner up from the wall.  I used my fingernails for this part which I found easier than using a tool.


Once up, take the scraper and start wedging it under the paper.  You won’t always be able to pull up the paper in one strip…. actually you’ll probably never be able to do this…. but with some extra soaking and scraping, eventually you’ll get all the pieces removed.

Yes I’m wearing a bandana.  Quit judging 🙂

5. Once the paper is gone, you’ll be left with 2 situations.  Some types of wallpaper will be just paper, while other types will have an additional layer of glue/paste behind it.  If there is a glue layer, simply apply the same steps as above to remove it.  If it’s just paper… well aren’t you special!  Go on to step #6!
Lucky for us we had both types throughout the house.

6. When all of the paper and glue have been removed, use the same removal solution as before to wash (scrub) the walls.  Be thorough!!!  This takes off any additional paper or glue that was left behind (you might need to scape a little here) and preps the wall for painting.

Sounds super easy, right?  haha.  I promise it’s really NOT that bad… just requires some patience and a good Pandora mix.



3 Responses to “Weighing in on Wallpaper”

  1. Liz S January 19, 2012 at 9:33 am #

    We used these (or similar) methods and I have to say our favorite method was renting an industrial steamer! It took of the paper and remaining glue in one easy step! Just glide a scraper behind the steamer and off it comes.

    When we used the spray and scrape method I filled a spray bottle with fabric softener and sprayed the walls – it softens the wallpaper and makes it easy to scrape off.

    Good luck with all the renovations! I imagine you’ll be at Home Depot every weekend 😉

  2. Domestocrat January 19, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    Great tips!

  3. tom January 23, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    If your interested in removing tough stubborn wallpaper , please see our videos of my propane generated steamer, at www. miller brothers – click wallpaper removal. We travel if needed. please give it a look , we have been using this machine over 80 years. I believe we are the only company that has a propane generated steamer. Thanks to all reading!

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