Painting your walls can be one of the simplest ways to brighten or update your home, giving a room or the whole house a makeover. But it gets a lot more complicated when you have to remove wallpaper first.
Before you decide on a course of action and start to do the preparation work, you might want to check a small corner that is out of sight. For one thing, this will help you determine whether the wallpaper you’re trying to remove is strip wallpaper. We sure hope so, because this is much easier to remove.
You also need to check to see if there is another layer of wallpaper underneath. Unfortunately, when faced with old wallpaper, a lot of homeowners just put new wallpaper on top of it.
Locate a seam in a corner of the room. Use a putty knife to loosen a tab, and then pull. If it comes off relatively easily in strips, then you’re working with strip wallpaper and all you need to do is pull it off in most places. Use a razor blade to cut sections that adhere more closely. If your project proves more difficult, follow the tips below.
Even though you aren’t painting, you need to carefully prepare the room, since the wallpaper is going to come off in a wet, sticky mess.
Take everything off the walls and move furniture away from walls as well. Lay down drop-cloths or use other protection for your floors. Have buckets or other receptacles ready so you can throw away the removed wallpaper.
Use painter’s tape as though you were going to paint, and if you have wood baseboards, you’ll need to cover them with towels to prevent them from getting wet.
Depending on the size of your room, removing the wallpaper might take a few days. In addition, it is tedious work, so build in breaks for yourself and be prepared by finding some good music or maybe a podcast to listen to while you work.
Without using any water, peel or rip off the other layer of the paper. You’ll leave the backing behind, but it will absorb water more easily without the facing. You may need to use a putty knife or a razor blade to help you get this job done.
The layer that’s left now is the backing. You will want to really soak this to soften the glue that adheres it to the wall. Working in small sections (especially if your walls are drywall), use the hottest water possible—you can apply the water with a floor mop or spray bottle.
Then, using a putty scraper with rounded edges (to protect your walls underneath), gently and patiently scrape away the wallpaper backing. This is when having an assistant comes in handy, because one person can soak while the other scrapes.
There’s no way to avoid it: there’s going to be a lot of glue on the walls when you’re done, and it has to be removed to finish the job right. For this step, use the putty scraper and some elbow grease to get as much off as you can.
Then, use a gel stripper for the rest. Just spray it on, let it sit for about 15 minutes, and scrape it away.