How to remove wallpaper

Quick home fix-ups: Strip off old wallpaper in 4 steps

How to remove wallpaper
Photo: Joanne Liebeler's Do It Herself (Sunset Books) 

By Joanne Liebeler

Many times, wallpaper is applied over old wallpaper, so stripping down to the bare wall takes patience. The key is in dissolving the glue with moisture. You can rent steamers for this. But I’ve found this technique works just as well.

Step 1: Spread out the drop cloth to protect the floor. Run the scoring tool in a circular motion over the wall to create small holes in the wallpaper.

Step 2: Put on your safety glasses and rubber gloves. Pour some of the stripper into the plastic paint tray and use the roller to “paint” the stripper onto the wall. Really saturate it. The stripper will seep through the holes and dissolve the glue. Leave it alone for the amount of time indicated on the stripper label.

Step 3. Use the wallpaper scraper or drywall knife to peel away the paper and throw it away. Be careful not to damage the drywall as you scrape. If there’s more than one layer of wallpaper, you might have to remove them one at a time.

Step 4. Use a wet sponge to completely clean off any remaining glue.

What you'll need

  • Drop cloth
  • Serrated scoring tool, such as the Paper Tiger (made by Zinsser)
  • Safety glasses
  • Rubber gloves
  • Wallpaper stripper (I like the gel type made by DIF)
  • Plastic paint tray and foam paint roller
  • 4" wallpaper scraper or drywall knife
  • Garbage bags
  • Large sponge
  • Bucket of water

Time and talent

For a small room, set aside a full day to complete the job. If the wallpaper comes off easily, you’ll barely break a sweat. If not, you’ll be cursing the previous homeowners by lunchtime.

From Sunset Books | Joanne Liebeler's Do It Herself

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