Removing Wallpaper

Elizabethton (Stoney, TN(Zone 6b)

Help! Please tell me: what is the best way you have found to remove wallpaper?

I'm working on my living room. I'm doing a combination of steaming with water, sponging with fabric softener, and wiping with vinegar.

Fortunately, there is only one layer of wallpaper and underneath is the older, thicker type of paneling.

I'm not a patient person and I would like to know the most efficient way to do this.

Thanks in advance!

Northern Piedmont, NC(Zone 7b)

GrannyLois, a good friend of mine just finished removing wallpaper from 3 rooms. She mixed 1 cup of carpet shampoo to 2 gal. of water in a pump-up garden sprayer and put down plastic and old sheets/towels to soak up the water. Said it worked great! I haven't tried this yet but plan to when I re-do my kitchen.

Norwalk, IA(Zone 5b)

Also a product called DIF wallpaper remover..mix with a little water(its a gel) and spray on wait 10 minutes and it just peels off!Avail. at Home Depot /Lowes etc.

This message was edited Mar 7, 2005 8:19 PM

Lafayette, NJ(Zone 6a)

GrannyLois, I've never done anything with wallpaper. I like to watch Sell This House and they use the little thing to perforate the paper and diluted fabric softener. I think the ease of whatever you use depends on how the wall was prepped before the paper was put up. I've seen them use the fabric softener and the paper comes off with relative ease and with great difficulty.

Elizabethton (Stoney, TN(Zone 6b)

Thanks everyone.
Elsie, I am using that perforating thing - it helps a lot. This sure is a slow process. I'm giving myself little goals to get to each night. The fabric softener is my favorite so far.

Okeechobee, FL(Zone 10a)

The "sizing" step in applying wallpaper will save anyone a world of agravation down the line. It saves the wall and your blood pressure. Several of the TV shows omit the importance of this step.
I also skipped this one time, (first and last). The beautifully hung deep green wallpaper was perfect when DM and I went to bed, but woke up to a 1/32nd of an inch gap between each strip. That and removal is why they make wallpaper sizing.

Langley, WA(Zone 7b)

I used the scoring tool and the spray on stuff they sell at hardware stores esp for removing wallpaper. I also sprayed on hot water in addition to that gel stuff. I had the paper come off fairly easy, esp the bedroom, which only took a couple hours. The laundry room was toughter as it came off in two layers and the bottom layer was tougher. That room took a lot longer and we did it over about 3 days. I'm guessing we spent about 6 ot 8 hours on that one. We had to do a lot of scraping to get every last little bit of the underlayer off. My kids actually did most of it and they enjoyed it! Do you have kids?

Elizabethton (Stoney, TN(Zone 6b)

Yes, Gwen, I do have (grown-up) kids, and my daughter and her DH are coming next weekend (Mar. 4-5) to help. There apparently was no sizing done, and it's a real chore - I've been doing a little each night - about an hour - and it's gettin' there, but it's a slow process. The spray on stuff isn't as good as the fabric softener applied with a soaking wet sponge.

Middle, TN(Zone 6b)

We didn't have any sizing under ours either. We have been fighting that rmmoval battle a little at the time in our bedroom. Man, what a chore. (No, I will never put up wallpaper again if I can just get that wall painted once again. I am going to do some stenciling this time. Then all I will have to do it paint over it. I think the whole process of removing that paper is why we waited so long after we removed the paper in the other rooms several years ago. We finally bit the bullet and we are worn out with the process. We have tried everything on ours and nothing is working except using a lot of effort and patience. It also helps to drink lots of coffee or caffine laden drinks. Ha!

Let us know when you get finished and I will do the same. Good luck!

Okeechobee, FL(Zone 10a)

I'm starting on 3 rooms today and just wanted to re-read.

Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

We had to do this when we bought the house last year (had about 6 layers of paper the last the old stuff) A few things to watch is don't load down the wall with the spray it could damage the sheetrock and second the cheap exacto knives work great because the blades flex better. If you have a boo boo and tear down to the brown on the sheet rock remember to patch and sand before you apply the new paper or paint

Dayton, OH(Zone 6a)

The best thing I have found is fabric softener. Just score the walls gently and keep adding fabri softener--I use it straight from the bottle and buy the cheapest kind available. The best part is that is won't harm the floor/carpet if some gets on it.

Good luck.

Okeechobee, FL(Zone 10a)

Thanks, this is what I've run into. They just skimcoated the area that had part of the paper removed. I really detest shodddy, high dollar work.

Thumbnail by sugarweed
Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

Sugar why do you have a picture of my walls? *G* It's a pain in the butt I know but just keep thinking how nice it will look after it's done. I didn't think I'd ever get the walls floated after we had so many boo boo's but a little mud, a lot of muttering terrible things about the past owners and some elbow grease and it turned out fine.


Thumbnail by araness
Okeechobee, FL(Zone 10a)

Yes, yours did. Unfortunately this is all being done for sale purposes.
The floors and walls and some kitchen spiffing.

Auburn, AL(Zone 8a)

I wish we had bought from someone like yourself. We've ended up doing all the "spiffing" ourselves. *G* When you get done can you post pictures I'd love to see them. I want to replace the floor in my kitchen and all three baths as well as update my kitchen cabinets. We have a list made in the order of how badly we want things (or need) done and next on the list is a screened in porch. Guess the kitchen floors and such can wait.


Archie, MO(Zone 5b)

The trick to using the fabric softener method is to soak wall, wait ten minutes, soak again, wait ten minutes, do this 4 or 5 times before trying to peel paper off. It will come off much easier.

Vegas,NV Filbert, SC(Zone 7b)

Also if your wallpaper has a shine or a vinyl type covering on it, use a syringe to inject water behind the paper. Once you get started just keep spraying water on it. All wallpaper paste is water based. Assuming that the installer used the right adhesive.

The fabric softner helps soften the plaster or wall mud, if you are trying to remove wallpaper from bare drywall or wood it is just as easy and less costly to use plain warm water. Using fabric softners or soap on bare wall board will actually cause you more problems then with out it because it causes the chalk in the wall board to remain damp and could create mold issues.

DH has been a journeyman wall treatment/painter for over 20 years. And he uses a hudson sprayer with water and a 6 in putty knife. You would think with as long as wall paper has been around they would have perfected a way to make it easier to remove considering how often some redecorate.

Okeechobee, FL(Zone 10a)

CARAT, I think they have done that. I also think some get in a hurry and don't 'size' the wall before hanging. I had a nightmare getting the walls at mothers stripped in some rooms and in others it just flew off the wall. Wall sizing is really the difference. I or my DB had hung all of it.
The remodelers in 2000 just pulled out the drywall taping mud and smeared it around instead of taking the time to strip it.

Vegas,NV Filbert, SC(Zone 7b)

Oh ouch. My sympathies to you. Been there and hated it.

Brockton, MA(Zone 6a)

There is a tool that I use to get the glue off that saves a lot of time.
It's made by 3M and available in the furniture refinishing isle of the big box stores and some good wallpaper stores. It looks like the gas grill scrub brush but it is not as abrasive. It has a 1 inch thick blue mesh pad that grabs on like Velcro to a black 'D' handle. Sold together and /or 2 replacement pads. The set up is less than $5 and the pair of replacement pads is like $2.
Once the vinyl and most all the backing paper is removed, use this tool to scrub off the remaining glue and bits of residue paper. Use lots of water and sponge off the muck.
You can not paint over old glue because it puffs up when wet and ruins the paint finish.
Andy P

Radford, VA(Zone 7a)

I am in the process of painting a kitchen that had wallpaper curling at the edges. I grew impatient trying to peel it off and decided to paint over it. WHAT A GREAT IDEA! No-really! Because the wallpaper under the wet paint bubbled up and disconnected from the wall a few minutes later-so obviously I couldn't paint over it, but I had discovered an extremely simple way to loosen the wallpaper! It peeled off like a dream, taking only a few minutes! Maybe I just got lucky, but you can try painting on some latex enamel and see if you get the same results. Let me know if it works for you!

Baytown, TX(Zone 9a)

My Mom had that really old kind of fuzzy almost fabric like wall paper. She painted over it, however, it did not come off. She liked it fortunately, and it is still there to this day. The paint made the wall paper stiff / sharp in some places and if you bump up against it, it will take your skin off!! It doesn't work on all types of wallpaper!

Radford, VA(Zone 7a)

Yeah, AND I forgot to say (sorry!!!!), that I first peeled off what was loose. It was a vinyl type and the top layer came off easily leaving just a brown paper-bag type layer. THAT is what the paint took care of. Sorry again!

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

When we were looking at this house, the previous owner showed us, with great pride, the guest bathroom which he had carefully covered with randomly torn grocery sacks and then varnished to supposedly look like leather. He obviously loved it... I hate it. As he went on about the HGTV show that he had gotten the idea from, I was staring at the walls and wondering how hard it would be to take down.

Fast forward 7 years... We haven't gotten around to redoing the bathroom yet, but we have found a good way of taking it off! Have babies who grow into toddlers who love tearing bits of paper off of the wall everytime they go in there to go potty! The wall is half cleared (as high as they can reach), and I haven't had to do a bit of work on it. Of course, I always have a bit of explaining to do whenever company comes, but frankly it doesn't look a whole lot worse now than the "faux leather" look did then. LOL

Radford, VA(Zone 7a)

Give it another 5 or 6 years and they'll have it ALL off!

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

That's what I'm thinking. LOLOL

Brockton, MA(Zone 6a)

I saw that once, many years ago. It was professionally done and looked good ~ in a den.

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

I'm sure it did... I can imagine it looking very good in a den. It looks awful in my bathroom, though! LOL :-)

Baytown, TX(Zone 9a)

Many years ago in approx. 1976 we bought a townhouse in Va. We were on a tight budget and could not afford wall paper at the time. Decopage was the going thing, so I decided to decopage the comic strips from the Sunday newspaper all over a couple of the bathroom walls in the hall under the stairs. It was a very small room, so there wasn't much to do. Some pages came out better than others, but overall it looked pretty good. My husband and neighbors thought it was quite a conversation peice. When we went to sell the home to move here I was concerned about how well the house would sell with that on the walls. Fortunately the buyer didn't mind, was rather amused by it, and the house sold within a week.

One wall in the kitchen I decopaged food items all over it. It came out very nicely as well. Thru the years I wondered how well it had held up, so wrote a letter to the "resident" of that address to ask if my artwork was still there. They were kind enought to write back and say, "No, it wasn't." It probably had been 20 years at least, so someone along the way probably was cursing me while trying to get it all off the walls. I've considered redoing my kitchen that way again, but just don't think it would go with my decor of Light houses, and ships, unless I decopage Light houses and ships on there. It is alot of work, so probably won't happen again.

It sure was fun when I was younger. Wisdom probably says we should use paint this time! LOL!

Lakeville, MN

I discovered you don't have to buy anything except the tool that scores the paper. Just use hot water. Get the wall nice and wet and keep wetting it for about 20 minutes and off it comes.

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