How to remove wallpaper

If you’re wondering how to remove wallpaper, one expert suggests liberally coating the wallpaper with a removal solution. This will help saturate the wallpaper and loosen the glue. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Rita G. of Philadelphia)

If you’re wondering how to remove wallpaper, one expert suggests liberally coating the wallpaper with a removal solution. This will help saturate the wallpaper and loosen the glue. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Rita G. of Philadelphia)

Ready to take down that old wallpaper? Two highly rated handymen on Angie’s List, David Winter of Boise, Ill., and Dan Schmidt of Las Vegas, explain the process in seven simple steps.

1. Cover surrounding surfaces — floors, baseboards, countertops and any other exposed areas.

2. Purchase a wallpaper removal solution from your local hardware store. Follow the instructions on the label and mix the solution with warm water into a pump-up sprayer or bucket.

3. Apply the mixture generously with a sprayer or a sponge on the wallpaper.

4. Give the solution about five minutes to set. Then, apply a second coat. When it comes to the wallpaper being saturated, Winter says, "The wetter, the better!"

5. Wait 25 minutes for the second coat to soak into the wallpaper. This will allow the solution-water mixture to loosen the glue holding the paper to the wall.

6. Start from the top of the wall and slowly peel off the wallpaper in a downward motion. Wallpaper comes in two layers, a decorative layer and a backing layer. Simply repeat steps 3 through 6 for the backing layer. If a layer of wallpaper does not come off, Schmidt says, "You just need to add some more water to it, wait a little while and it will come off."

7. For any excess glue, follow Winter’s advice: "Glue on the wall can usually be taken off with more solution-water mixture and a sponge, hand towel or stiff brush."

If you find that there are sections where the wallpaper is not peeling off, use a perforator to aerate the section. Then, reapply a good coat of solution-water mixture, let it soak and attempt to peel it off again. If needed, use a 2-inch, flexible putty knife to scrape off difficult areas. This is only as a last resort. Remember to really soak the wallpaper and give it time to absorb.


We've removed vinyl wallcovering, but we're left with the paste and sizing. How can we neatly remove it without damaging our new kitchen cabinets, which were installed before the paint removal?

Had vinyl wall installed in a kitchem several years ago. The installer used a heavy application of sizing to smooth out the swirl coated plaster walls. The walls have 2-3 coats of latex paint on them. I scored the paper and removed the top layer. The paper under portion of the paper comes off easily, but very little of the sizing. What is the best method to get rid of the sizing so I can paint? Thanks.

Forget the solutions. Nothing works as good and fast as the steamer. Rent it from your local HRDWRE store for $25/day.

I have a neat trick that I've used many times to remove wallpaper more easily. Cut open a large-size new thin plastic garbage bag to form one layer. After perforating the wallpaper and spraying it well with the solution, immediately smooth down the plastic bag all over the wet area and leave it there for about 15 minutes. The bag will stay in place by itself on the wet wall. This keeps the solution from evaporating too quickly, soaks the paper better, and you don't need to use so much solution. Try it! You can reuse the plastic bag until your job is done, too.

Anyone have suggestions for removing foil wallpaper? I'm told it's the hardest to remove.

Fabric REFRESHER with a well-known name. I don't mean softener - use REFRESHER! It comes in a blue spray bottle and can be found in any grocery store. It seriously works! We stripped an entire 3-bedroom house full of wall-paper when two professional paperers said it couldn't be done. It was just the answer we needed. Hope it can help someone else.

I am a wallpaper installer and I also remove wallpaper, do wall repair and paint. The best way to remove wallpaper depends upon what type of walls and what type of paper to be removed. For drywall walls I dno not reccomend using anything more than hot water--no Dif and definitely no paper tiger! These should only be used on plaster walls as they will eat into the drywall as well. If the walls are going to be painted, a stain blocking primer should be used prior to the paint to ensure that there is no glue residue that will belld through the paint. For pre-pasted papers, the top (vinyl) layer should just peel off. Then a generous soaking of the paper backing and some time will allow the paper to just slide off. If the walls were not primed there may be a problem with the adhesion. A GENTLE perforation of the vinyl and a lot of hot water and time will alleviate this problem. there is no such thing as too much water or too much time. For plaster walls, a gentle perforation and a mild Dif solution will work. The best trick is never use anything smealler than a 6" braos knife to scrape. Smaller things will gouge the walls requiring wall repair.

What works best for sizing removal?

I've been told that the fabric-softener works also.

Any suggestions for removing about 5 layers of wallpaper in an 80 year old house? I tried the solutions and water with no luck.

Does the steamer work on wallpaper that has been painted many times?

I have been removing wallpaper for 34 years and have a few things to say.Water is the main reason paper comes off. Diff remover is a big help.It breaks down the enzemes but what it mostly does is prevent the water from evaporating.Steamers ruin your drywall,since drywall is made with paper of course,but they can be helpful on plaster walls if the plaster is solid enough. Gary

No one's mentioned painted-over paper - there's no quick or easy way to work through a paper-paint-paper-plaster scenario in an old house. Couldn't have been done without the perforator, + much elbow grease and spackle.

I have also used a solution with fabric softener-- it works just as well as the commercial stuff and is less toxic.

I just spent $60 on a steamer and it was the best money I have spent in a long time. DANGER: It gets the drywall wet, so pull it off rather than scrape it off unless you are using a dull putty knife.

I've had good luck with a vinegar and water mixture, spray regularly and saturate, then scrape. The paper I've removed seemed to be sealed, so I had to perforate some of it and soak again to get more. Usually the top layer would pull off a log, then redial the bottom layer and real simple. The walls got tore up, bit mostly where the spackle was.

Honestly, I've only ever removed really old, VERY adhered to the wall wallpaper myself and it was excruciating, tedious, and a royal pain and required soaking, scraping, re-texturizing, and re-sealing the drywall before painting could take place. I'm about to remove some 3-year-old kids' room decorative border paper and I plan to just try LOTS of water and soaking first. Many experienced people I have asked have told me water or steam works just as well as the solvent and doesn't create all those fumes for my 4 children to inhale. Not to mention, me.

This article is completely contrary to my experience and I'd pay it absolutely no heed. The solutions for removing wall paper make extremely toxic inhalants. Steam and moisture can help depending on the paper and the glue, and at least it's non toxic and a perforator is less than useless. I'd just get a scraper with a wide blade, and aggressively scrap it off. If it's too tough going, stop and re-texture over what remains after a good effort to remove anything remotely loose.

Does using a steamer also work?

Make sure to use a pump sprayer (garden sprayer works well) or large sponge as they suggested. I've also heard vinegar works but haven't tried it.

I've tried every method for removing wallpaper and the best way I've found is to purchase a steamer. It literally melts the paper off in huge sheets (both layers at once). I manipulate the steamer with one hand and use a wide scraper with the other hand and presto, the paper just falls off the wall. Just be careful not to get the steamer too close to your hand.....IT IS VERY HOT!

I've had good luck using fabric softener for removing wallpaper-especially for those pesky remaining pieces!!

If you have plaster walls or blueboard+skim coat walls, then you don't have to worry about the wall getting wet. But if you have drywall walls, you better be careful! Hopefully, the drywall was primed or had previously been painted before the wallpaper was applied..

Won't all the water and remover cause the outer surface of the sheetrock to become damaged?

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