How To Remove Wallpaper

Apartment Therapy Tutorials

While there are many methods of removing wallpaper, I decided to turn to the experts for advice - my brother and sister-in-law. They recently purchased an old Victorian home and have since been steadily eradicating every inch of wallpaper from their new dwelling. Here's a quick guide to their tried-and-true method:

Materials:
• Pump Sprayer
• Wide Putty Knife
• Drop Cloth
• Trash Bag
• Large Sponge
• Ladder or Step Stool
• Screwdriver
For particularly difficult wallpaper these items may also be helpful:
• Scoring Device
• Fabric Softener
• Wallpaper Steamer

Instructions:

Step 1: Ready the Space
Remove curtains or drapes, artwork, and any outlet covers and switch plates. Position your drop cloth beneath the first wall to be sprayed. Shut off the power at the breaker or fuse box.

Step 2: Prepare the Solution
Heat water in a kettle on the stove. Fill your sprayer halfway with hot water from the sink and the other half with boiling water from the kettle. For particularly difficult wallpaper, you may also want to add fabric softener. In this case use a 1:1 mixture of hot/boiling water and fabric softener.

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Step 3: Spray the Walls
If you are working with particularly difficult wallpaper, you may want to score the walls first to allow for maximum saturation. This is not always necessary, so try a test section first and save your time and your walls - score too hard and you can damage the surface.

Replace the lid and pump the sprayer to pressurize the solution. Spray the walls evenly, saturating the wallpaper. If you are only removing a small area, wait fifteen minutes before moving on to the next step, or until the wallpaper begins to bubble. If you are removing an entire room you should be able to work on the initial wall as soon as you have finished spraying the space.

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Step 4: Remove the Wallpaper
Use your wide putty knife to begin scraping the wallpaper. Start by focusing on seams and bubbling sections. Wallpaper that was recently applied to primed walls may come off in large sheets. Older wallpaper or wallpaper that was applied directly to plaster/drywall will be more difficult to remove.

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Step 5: Repeat
Add more boiling water to your solution and saturate the walls again. Continue scraping. Repeat these steps as necessary until the wallpaper has been removed.*

*If you've tried these steps and it just isn't happening, you may have to break out the big guns and rent a wallpaper steamer from your local hardware store. Choose a gas-powered steamer if possible as electric steamers take longer.

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Step 6: Clean-Up Residue
To remove any remaining residue, use a large sponge to wipe down the walls. Lightly spray the walls one final time with clean water for good measure. Allow the walls to dry for two to three days before taking any further action.

Congratulations - your wallpaper is gone. Now comes the fun part: deciding on a new wallpaper pattern or paint color. Enjoy!

(Images and text: Lauren Hufnagl)