Removing wallpaper can be an arduous and frustrating task. Save your sanity with these need-to-know shortcuts.
As a DIYer, your eye is trained to see the potential in a room. But a room covered in ugly, outdated wallpaper is bound to make even the most seasoned weekend warrior groan. While removing wallpaper is a pain, you should never skip it: Experts agree that it's best to remove wallpaper rather than paint over it
Of course, there's the traditional method to remove wallpaper
-- scraping it from the walls. But wallpaper removal (and application, for that matter) has advanced significantly since those days when you watched your mom and dad slaving away with their putty knives. Try these modern tips and tricks -- even if your wallpaper is stuck in another decade.
First, prep your room for bringing the wallpaper down
-- Ideally, you want to empty your room of furniture (or protect pieces with dropcloths.)
-- Choose a canvas dropcloth for this project, and cover the floor with it. Canvas is better than plastic in this case, because the cotton is absorbent. Wallpaper dyes may run as you go to remove wallpaper, so you want to protect any surfaces.
Five Shortcuts for Removing Wallpaper:
1. Steam It Away
: You can rent a commercial wallpaper steamer
from a paint store to dampen the walls. Then try scratching off the wallpaper; if it comes off easily, it's ready to be removed using a wallpaper scraper
2. Repurpose Your Garden Sprayer
: If you don't want to rent a steamer, you can spray your walls using your own garden pump sprayer instead. Be mindful of how much water you're spraying; the wallpaper will darken as it absorbs water, and water may run on the floor if you saturate the walls. As you move along with removing wallpaper, respray your walls if the wallpaper becomes dry or difficult to remove.
3. Strip It Away with Enyzmes
: Spraying and steaming works great for old-fashioned wallpapers. But if you have some '70s era vinyl or foil wallpaper, getting the walls wet will get you nowhere since they're waterproof. That's when you want to pull in the Zinsser DIF Wallpaper Remover
; the special enzymes speed up the process. This is the shortcut that's touted to be the best of the best: better than hot water, vinegar, steam -- and it's the solution that is safest for your walls (less scraping). Mix the DIF Wallpaper Remover concentrate with water and apply to the paper. In about an hour, it starts working and softens the paste that makes the wallpaper stick to the walls. Even easier, there's now the Zinsser DIF Gell Wallpaper Remover
, which is premixed and ready to use.
4. Attack It with a Paper Tiger
: If you're struggling to peel off wallpaper in sizable strips, try a Paper Tiger
, also known as a scoring tool. You can find this circular, handheld tool at hardware stores and online home improvement retailers
. It has rotary blades that perforate the paper as they're dragged across the surface of the wallpaper. Run this tool all over your wall, and it will create little perforations that let the moisture reach the adhesive below. Once you've attacked your wallpaper with a paper tiger, spray or steam it with water. Then you'll easily be able to scrape it away with a broad knife.
5. Brew a Solution of Vinegar and Hot Water
: An alternative solution that's home-brewed is spraying a mix of vinegar and hot water using your garden sprayer. This works even if the wallpaper has a vinyl top layer, but you'll need to score the wallpaper first using a scoring tool
. Poke holes in the wallpaper using the scoring tool to let the water solution soak in. Work in small areas to remove the wallpaper so that the water doesn't dry first.
And don't let removing ancient stuck-on wallpaper deter you from decorating with a fresh, cool wallpaper pattern
; hello, there are so many amazing wallpapers available now!
For gorgeous, modern wallpaper designs, see: ALL ABOUT WALLPAPER
There are also organic, water-soluble pastes available now for wallpaper projects. These pastes are starch-based and easily strippable if you (or the next homeowners) decide to remove the wallpaper a year from now. You can even make your own all-natural wallpaper paste
Now go forth and wallpaper without fear!