Best Ways to Remove Wallpaper Before Painting

wallpaperWhen your wallpaper has seen better days it may be time to remove it and update the room with fresh paint. Removing wallpaper can be a daunting task and may mean you need to hire a professional or at least rent some professional equipment.

These steps will help you remove the old wallpaper and get the walls in tip-top shape and ready for painting.

Determine if the Wallpaper is Vinyl or Paper

Vinyl wallpaper is much easier to remove than paper and to determine which type of wallpaper is on the wall, find a wallpaper edge and try to peel it back. If it peels back with relative ease in a large segment, it’s vinyl and can be removed by peeling it off the walls in large sections.

If pulling the edge of the wallpaper yields nothing or just a tiny scrap of paper, the wallpaper is made from paper and removal will be more labor intensive and you will need to hire a professional wallpaper remover or rent some steaming equipment to assist in the removal.

Score the Wallpaper

The wallpaper needs to be scored (except for vinyl wallpaper) for easier removal. Use a special tool called a ‘wallpaper score’ to make shallow slices into the wallpaper. A utility knife can be used to score the wallpaper, just make sure you use a light hand so as to not cut through to the drywall underneath. A wallpaper score can be purchased at any home improvement or hardware store.

Soak or Steam

After the vinyl wallpaper has been removed from the walls or the paper wallpaper scored, soak the walls with a wallpaper removal solvent or fabric softener. Mix one part liquid fabric softener and one part hot water in a squirt bottle and saturate the wallpaper or wall.

A rented steam machine can also be used for this step if preferred. the moisture help to loosen the paper and glue from the drywall underneath it so it can be removed. Wallpaper removal solvent or fabric softener needs to used on the bare walls after vinyl wallpaper has been removed to remove any remaining glue.

Grab a Large Putty Knife

Use a large putty knife and scrape away the wallpaper and glue. Both should come off easily, if not, spray more wallpaper removal solvent or fabric softener on the wall and let sit for a few minutes before attempting to scrape again.

Wash and Prime the Walls

After all the wallpaper and glue has been removed, mix a 50/50 ammonia and water solution and wash the walls down to remove all traces of glue and debris. Repair any wall damage and fill in holes with spackle. Allow the spackle to dry and sand smooth. Apply a coat of latex based primer, allow to dry and the walls are ready for their new coat of paint or new wallpaper.

Time and Effort

Removing wallpaper can be done as a DIY project, but it does require a lot of time and effort, not to mention ladders and a few other pieces of equipment. It would be best to consult with a professional wallpaper remover and house painter before undertaking a DIY project of this magnitude, especially if you have a large room or high ceilings.

Share Your Experience

Join the discussion and share your knowledge on this home improvement topic.