Removing Wallpaper

You are ready to redecorate your house, or perhaps just a room in that house and you are wondering how to get rid of that out-dated wallpaper. Some do-it-yourself decorators choose to cover the wallpaper with new paper or paint, but this is not usually the wisest decision. Moisture in adhesives can cause new coverage to peel and lap marks maybe visible through your new paint or wallpaper. Simply put, new coverings and paint will apply more easily on clean, stripped-down surfaces so your best to expend a bit of elbow grease and remove that unwanted paper.

Some wallpaper is strippable and will peel from the wall quite easily. Unfortunately, unless you put the wallpaper up yourself, the only way to tell if your wallpaper is strippable is to try peeling it off the wall. Start in an inconspicuous corner and pry the paper away from the wall with a utility knife. Pull at the corner of the paper being careful to keep the pressure from pulling as close to the wall as possible. With steady, moderate pressure strippable wallpapers should peel away from the wall.

If the paper starts to tear or does not come away from the wall easily, your old wallpaper is probably the non-strippable type and you will need to soak or steam it to get it off the wall. However, take care as it is not advisable to soak or steam wallpaper that has been attached to drywall as moisture can moisture can soften and damage the drywall. In these cases, you will need to use a dry-strip method for removing wallpaper.

Still, first we should talk about methods for soaking or steaming wallpaper for removal. One of the most common methods is called slitting and soaking. Using this technique, you will use a utility knife or razor blade to make horizontal slits on the surface of the old wallpaper. Slits should be spaced eight to ten inches apart and will allow warm water or liquid wallpaper remover to soak the back surface of the wallpaper and loosen the glue.

After making slits over the surface of the old wallpaper, apply water or paper remover with a large sponge and let it sit for a few minutes. Using a wall scraper with a flexible blade, you can slide the blade under the edge of one of the horizontal slits and push up on the wet wallpaper. Continue applying consistent pressure as you push the wall scraper up and the wallpaper should come free. For stubborn sections of wallpaper, simply make a few more slits and apply more warm water. Dry-stripping is essentially the same method but without the water. Dry-stripping may be more time consuming and you will need to sand surfaces more thoroughly before applying your new covering.

Another alternative for removing old wallpaper involves steaming. Tool rental and wallpaper stores will often rent electrical steamers for removing wallpaper. Heat the water in the wallpaper steamer before applying the plate against the wall. As the wallpaper becomes moist, you will notice the color darken and wrinkle. Use a wall scraper to peel away the wallpaper. Once the paper has been steamed thoroughly, you may be able to peel it away from the wall as you would with strippable wallpaper.