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How to Remove Wallpaper, Step-by-Step Instructions for Removing Wallpaper

Removing Wallpaper can be difficult but the end results are well worth the extra effort.

If you’re looking how to remove wallpaper be prepared, it can be a very tedious process and in some cases almost impossible.

Some people now suggest you prime the wall with oil-based paint and then treat it as a brand new wall and paint it. Some situations may require keeping the wallpaper, but typically this is not the best solution.

Image - Torn Wallpaper Finish
Torn Wallpaper Finish

How to Remove Wallpaper

Most wallpaper has a protective layer on top that repels water. To really loosen the glue you’re going to have to score that top layer. I recommend a paper scorer, sometimes called a paper tiger.

Utility knives will also work if you gently score the top layer of the paper in a crisscross pattern. The only reason I would not use a utility knife to score the wallpaper before removal is that it is a bit more tedious than the scorer.

Once the top layer is scored you can soften the paste. There are a few different ways to do this. One is the traditional steamer. You can rent one of these at a local paint or hardware store. If you decide to use a steamer you do not need to use a chemical wallpaper remover.

Simply steam a small area and work the paper up. Use a wall scraper to help you pry the paper off the wall. With the steamer, you need to work on small sections rather than the whole wall. If you opt to use a chemical wallpaper remover its best to wet a large area and let the liquid seep into the paper before you try to pull it off.

I have used DIF in the past and highly recommend this product. It is not caustic enough to harm your hands so you don’t need to wear rubber gloves and you’re the most useful tool, your fingernails, are ready to scrape and pick away. I have also used wallpaper removal sheets.

These strips of cloth stick to walls sprayed with hot water or a hot water and DIF mixture. Let the strips sit for twenty minutes or so and then peel the wallpaper off.


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Be careful when picking the paper so you don’t damage the wall underneath. Once the surface is softened it is very easy to mar the walls.

After you have removed all of the paper you need to wash the walls. You can use a heavy detergent and water mix as long as you wear rubber gloves. Or you can make another batch of DIF and water to scrub off the remaining glue. The paint will ultimately not adhere to glue so you want to make sure the walls are totally clean.

Another thing to consider after you’ve taken all the wallpaper off your walls is the texture. Wallpaper is hung on smooth walls. This can be great for some painting techniques and not so great for others. Something to consider when planning your decorating project.

Remember before beginning this project, removing wallpaper can take a very long time and require a lot of elbow grease, but the result will be nice smooth walls you can paint and decorate and never again have to worry about peeling and slipped seams.

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