Question: I have this ugly outdated wallpaper in my kitchen/dinning room that I want removed. It’s horrible but it came with the house. Is this something me and my husband can do or do we have to hire a professional?
The answer to this question depends on how much patience you have and the manner in which the wallpaper was originally installed.
If your walls were smooth and properly prepped, prior to actual installation, then the wallpaper should easily peel off in long, whole sheets. There will be very little scrapping involved.
However, this is a best-case scenario. Individuals and professionals tend to skip steps, even if they know better, without fully thinking about the consequences down the road.
If the installer did not properly prep the walls, whoever that may be, then it’s time to roll up your sleeves, because you have your work cut out for you.
- Wallpaper Scoring Tool
- DIF Liquid Concentrate Wallpaper Stripper or equivalent
- Spray Bottle
- Metal Putty Knife
- Stiff-Chisel Scrapper
- Sponge Mop
- Towels or Rags
Step 1: Prepare The Rooms
Remove all decorations off your wall. Place a drop cloth at the base of the wall to catch falling wallpaper strips, hardened glue or pieces of drywall. Relocate all nearby furniture to another room until you’re done so you don’t get any debris on it.
Step 2: Use A Scoring Tool To Perforate Wall
There is a apparatus called a wallpaper scoring tool (example). It’s coned shaped and has four stainless-steel blades underneath that roll. Its purpose is to poke small holes into the wallpaper so that the remover solution is allowed to seep inside. Using light pressure, move the scoring tool around the wall in a circular, scrubbing motion.
Step 3: Removal Solution
You have two options for you solution: commercially made wallpaper remover or fabric softener + hot water. Either option will get the job done.
If you use fabric softener, mix the detergent and hot water in a 1-to-1 mix concentration. Only mix small amounts at one time because you don’t want your solution to get cold.
If you want to get a commercial pre-mixed solution then we recommend Zinsser’s DIF Liquid Wallpaper Stripper. Its made from a strong enzyme that breaks down wallpaper paste. Like the fabric softener, mix the concentrate with hot water inside a spray bottle. Safe and Simple is another good option in you only like using biodegradable products.
Note: When we hung paper over a decade ago, we always used the commercial concentrate because it was faster and more potent than fabric softener.
Step 4: Spray The Walls
With your spray bottle, liberally soak the section of your wall that you just used the scoring tool on. Spray the section a couple times until it looks fully saturated. Let it soak into the paper for 15-minutes.
See Also: Removing Wallpaper From Unprimed Drywall
Step 5: Peel Off Wallpaper
After 15-minutes, the paste should be loosened up. Now comes the fun part! Take a metal putty knife and and work it behind the wallpaper’s top edge, where two sheets meet. Peel the paper down the wall.
Keep peeling down until the sheet is completely off the wall or you meet resistance. When you come to some resistance, spray the section down with more wallpaper remover to further loosen up the hard glue behind it. Repeat these steps until all of the wallpaper is removed in the room.
Step 6: Remove Leftover Residue
You need to remove the leftover adhesive residue from your walls. You don’t want this stuff interfering with your new wallpaper or showing through your new paint. Spray down your walls again with wallpaper remover (or detergent solution) and scrap off the old residue with your putty knife. Some people like to use a sponge to wipe off the leftover adhesive but there might be some stubborn spots that need to be scrapped.
Step 7: Wash the Wall
You’re almost there! There’s one final step to do before you can call it a day. You need to rinse off the wallpaper remover and dry it. Mix some soap and hot water into a bucket of water. With a sponge apply to hot, soapy water to your walls. Next, rinse them with just water. Dry with a towel, piece of cloth or old rag.
Note: The final step is easier with a sponge mop.