How to Strip Old Wallpaper

If you’ve got old, out of date, or peeling wallpaper in your house, it may be time to remove it. Depending on what type of paper and glue was used to put the wallpaper up, this can be a simple or complicated process. Either way, if it needs to come down, it needs to come down.

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*If the wallpaper that is already up is smoothly and securely fastened to the wall, try painting or papering over it instead of removing it.

Steps for Removal:

ONE: Try to use a scraper or putty knife to peel off the wallpaper; lift up a corner at an angle and continue peeling if it seems to remove easily; you can also use a rolling pin to remove dry paper

Tools Needed: scraper/ putty knife, kitchen rolling pin

TWO: If you can’t peel the wallpaper completely, fill a spray bottle with a solution of hot water and wallpaper removing solution, or use gel remover to avoid water damage to trim and floors; let solution sit on a test section of the wall for 15 to 20 minutes to see if this loosens up the wall paper

Tools Needed: spray bottle, hot water, wallpaper removing solution/ gel remover

THREE: If step two doesn’t work, you’ll have to use a special scarifying or scoring tool, coarse floor-sanding paper, or the tooth-edged side of a hand saw to score the surface before applying the solution

Tools Needed: scarifying/ scoring tool/ floor-sanding paper/ saw

Know what type of wallpaper you’re removing? Here are some type-specific tips!

  • Flocked: some flocked wallpapers can be removed using a solution or a steamer; if not, you may need to dampen flock fibers and then score the surface; saturate the scored surface with the removal solution for 15 minutes and then remove using a broad knife.
  • Commercial grade vinyl: pull wallpaper off at a 10-degree angle in narrow, 4-6 inch strips
  • Cork Veneer, Felt, and Suede: start by stripping the decorative surface from backing; score the backing with coarse sanding paper, then soak the wall with full strength removal solution and let sit for 10-20 minutes; use a broad knife to scrape away the backing; if you absolutely can’t remove the substrate level, install the new paper directly on top.
  • Foil: score wallpaper with rough sandpaper, then dampen with wallpaper-removing solution
  • Natural cloth paper: cover wall with removal solution and scrape to remove the texturized surface; repeat this process to remove the backing; if you cannot remove the backing, dry it, sand it, and add the new wallpaper on top.
  • Expanded vinyl: try to dry peel the surface layer; scrape away backing after soaking with a mixture of warm water and removing solution; if backing can’t be removed, lay new wallpaper over the backing
  • Liner paper: try to dry strip; if you cannot dry strip, soak and scrape
  • Photo mural: try to peel away the surface; if you can’t, score, spray, and scrape
  • Mylar: dry strip the surface layer; soak and scrape the backing
  • Solid sheet vinyl, silkscreen, or wetlook: pull the surface layer off
  • Standard Paper: remove top layer with coarse sandpaper; spray backing with warm water/removing solution mixture, let soak for 15 minutes, scrape
  • Vinyl coated: dry-strip; if this doesn’t work, score with sandpaper or a scarifying tool, then soak with solution, and scrape

Check out Realtor.com for more tips on removing wallpaper.

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