Removing Wallpaper

Wallpaper removal is a fairly common process that homeowners go through. Your tastes may vary from the previous owners or maybe the wallpaper gets damaged. More often one will find that coated "washable" paper is more difficult to remove than more formal papers. Before starting, remove switch and outlet covers. The power to these exposed areas should be turned off.  In addition, if you have drywall walls and the paper facing starts coming off the drywall, you should stop immediately and get a professional opinion on what to do next.

Scoring tool
Items needed:
Putty knife/Scraper
Spray bottle
Wallpaper remover (optional)
Scoring tool (optional)
Sandpaper (optional)
Safety Suggestions and Tips
Wear Safety glasses
Place drop-cloths or rags along the baseboard to catch excess water
Keep paper towels on hand to clean up excess water
Level of difficulty

Time Required:



Step 1:

The best way to removing wallpaper is to start simple and then attempt other solutions. Fill up a squirt bottle with water (others suggest using some vinegar) and saturate the wallpaper. Let water soak for a few minutes. If the water does not soak in at all, you may have coated wallpaper - skip to step 3.


Step 2:

After the wallpaper has soaked in, start scraping. The paper should start coming off where it is saturated. Stubborn areas may require another application of water. Keep spraying and scraping. Also, make sure to keep the area clean. Wallpaper scrapings should be placed in a trash bag.

Scoring tool
Scoring tool

Step 3:

If there is a particularly stubborn paper on the wall, you may have to use a "scoring tool" or sandpaper. If you use sandpaper, make sure to wear a dust mask. Either of these tools will work to "open up" the coating and allow water to penetrate. In addition, there are special wallpaper removers available (sometimes called enzyme based) that are more aggressive in dissolving the wallpaper adhesive.

Perforated paper

Step 4:

When using the scoring tool and special removers, the process is still the same but you should check the directions on the package. As above, you should not allow removed paper to accumulate on the floor. If this process fails to yield results, you may need to steam the wallpaper off. This is especially true if the paper you are trying to remove has been painted over. It is best to rent a steamer and follow the directions included.