How to Remove Wallpaper

Updated on February 21, 2012
C.W. asks from Lutherville Timonium, MD
14 answers

To say that I am cursing the previous owner of this house right now is an understatement. Several years ago we bought this house and the kitchen and dining room were wallpapered. I wasn't wild about it, but I didn't have the time to remove it so I just adapted and lived with it. Now we are selling the house and we have been strongly advised to remove the wallpaper. The kitchen paper had some areas that were worn off anyway so it needs to come off. I have scored a small amount in the kitchen, doused it with fabric softener and hot water and managed to get only a small fingertip amount off. I tried the store bought stuff, nothing. The kitchen paper has that vinyl coating to it so I guess it holds up to moisture better which is making it even harder. There is a lot of this stuff to come off so I am wondering if there is a better way. I considered a steamer but I heard that it could damage the drywall. What am I doing wrong?

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answers from Washington DC on

I second Linda P. Can you get the top vinyl layer to peel off and leave paper behind? Once the vinyl is off, the paper is easier to soak and peel off. It is an awful, tedious job at best. Good Luck!

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answers from Washington DC on

You can spray the wallpaper with really hot water and vinegar and the glue with release very easily. Wallpaper glue is pretty much made of starch so if you don't mind smelling like white vinegar you can fill a spray bottle with half hot water and half white vinegar. Try to peel back a little corner and start spraying near the seam of the paper. Let the paper sit for a bit and then it will peel off really easily. You can then use a spackle blade to scrape the remaining glue off of the wall. Just be sure to wash the walls with water and a rag before painting or your paint will bubble from the residual glue.
We just did this process with our downstairs bathroom that had vinyl wallpaper and it worked like a charm. We didn't have to rent a steamer or use any strong chemicals; it just smelled like pickles for a bit.

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answers from New York on

I think it is called Dep from Home Depot. I would hire someone to do it if you can afford it. It is a miserable job. I know. BTDT.


answers from Medford on

UGH.. I have put up and taken down a lot of papers in the last 30 years and only needed a spray bottle of water and sometimes the little scorer thing. I have used wallpaper remover and it works if you spray a lot and let it sit for 20 minutes and spray again and then peel. BUT, we did have a bathroom that was so hard to remove paper from, we ended up taking the sheet rock out and redoing the walls themselves. It was a small bathroom and it was well worth $150 to have a pro come in and resheetrock after we knocked out the walls,,paper and all.



answers from Pittsfield on

I had that problem about 7 or 8 years ago. I'm not sure if this works for all wallpaper or not, but I was able to peel the top layer off, which left the papery part. I sprayed the papery part in sections at a time with water (and I think, fabric softener). I then used a wallpaper scraper and gently eased it up the wall. The paper came off quite easily. I don't know if what's under the paper (did they use sizing? is the wall smooth?) determines how easily it comes off. You could try that in a small section, and if it doesn't work, talk to someone at a wallpaper place like Sherwin Williams.
Good luck!! :)


answers from Washington DC on

Get a steamer.
If the paper has a vinyl coating, that should peel off and leave the rest of the glue mess underneath. Peel it and then steam it -- it will be faster in the long run.



answers from Tulsa on

I removed the wallpaper in one bathroom by hand, spraying stuff and then pulling it off. It took FOREVER! The next bathroom I rented a steamer and it was so much easier. Didn't hurt the drywall a bit, I wish I had gotten it the first time around. Good luck, even with the steamer removing wallpaper is one of the least fun things to do!



answers from Detroit on

I've always used a steamer. I bought one for $80 from Home Depot. Fill up the reservoir with water and it heats up in about 20 minutes. It works like a charm and it did not damage any of the drywall. Get some rubber gloves on before you do this. After you score the wallpaper, place the steamer on for about 20-30 seconds just enough to get it to loosen. Use the steamer and with a plastic putty knife, scrape off the wallpaper, peeling as you go. Clean up the strips of paper on the floor with a shop vac or sweep them up. Then wash the walls with a sponge and a combo of vinegar and water, making sure all the wallpaper adhesive is off your walls. Your walls should be residue free. Spackle any holes, wait for the spackle to dry and harden, sand down the spackle to smooth it out, then paint the walls or wallpaper them.


answers from San Francisco on

When we removed the wall paper from my old bedroom at my parents house, my mom rented a wall steamer. My then boyfriend, now husband, slowly ran the steamer down the walls and as he passed over the seams the glue would loosen and I would be able to start to peel it from the wall. It would come off in long nice even strips. Once all the paper was off, then we had to sand the walls because a lot of glue was left behind. After the sanding we spray textured it and then painted. I couldn't imagine doing that job without the rented steamer.



answers from Phoenix on

I feel your pain....was in a very similar situation. We took a friends advice of spackling the seams and rough areas then priming and painting the wallpaper. Worked like a charm!

Good luck!!


answers from Norfolk on

Hi, CW:
Put fabric softner in the water and
steam the wallpaper.



answers from Cleveland on

my boyfriends mom used this blue goo stuff i cant remember what its called but she used it in her kitchen and bathroom


answers from New York on

If you decide you CAN'T get it off, you have other options. You CAN paint over wallpaper - if you use a sealer/primer type paint before the color coat. You can also buy "commercial-weight" wallpaper specifically MADE to go over existing wallcoverings.

Good Luck. I just painted over "flocked" fleur-de-lis forest green & magenta paper in my dining room. It is now a very nice, very neutral light coffee color. :)



answers from Richmond on

I used a steamer and loved it. Start at top and the dripping hot steam loosens the wallpaper below as you go along. My girlfriend swore to me it just needed to be scored and it would be easy. She came to help and swore we wouldn't need steamer. First part was complete disaster until we finally tried steamer..then it was easy!

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