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How to Remove Wallpaper

Remove wallpaper

I’ve successfully removed wallpaper from four rooms in my house — all with little to no damage to the drywall in the process (and my wife and I are still married). There’s no big secret, but I do have a few tips and tricks on how to remove wallpaper easier.

Keep in mind that every job will be different. Some people I’ve spoken to had several layers of wallpaper. I was lucky enough to only have one layer. You should also be mindful of lead paint if you have an older house and take the proper precautions to deal with it.

If you’re unsure if you have lead paint or other hazardous materials on your wall consult with a professional.

Here’s what I learned from my experience removing wallpaper:

  1. Peel off the paper. The actual wallpaper tended to come easily off the wall. It’s the backing that needs the most work. It was fairly common in my four rooms to be able to lift off entire sections of paper with just the backing paper left behind.

    Important: If you start to peel off your wallpaper and the surface of your drywall comes off, too, STOP. At this point, you’ve started to damage your drywall.
  2. Get rid of the backing paper. I used two methods: stripping spray and water. I started out using stripping spray that I bought at the hardware store. You spray it on (it’s sort of like a thin gel) and wait. The stuff eats away at the glue and you’re able to (gently!) scrape it off with a putty knife. When I ran out of that, I filled the bottle up with plain water and sprayed that on the wall. That worked fine for my purposes. However, I was careful not to douse the wall with too much water.
  3. Repair and Smooth. I had a few nicks, dings and small holes, so I patched them with joint compound. After the repairs completely dried (a few hours to overnight depending on depth), I lightly sanded the walls to get them ready for painting. Before painting, I sealed the wall with two coats of primer (this is important!)

And that’s it! Not super complicated, but it is tedious and time consuming.