By following a few simple steps, removing old wallpaper can be done without too much fuss.
By following a few simple steps, removing old wallpaper can be done without too much fuss.

Redecorating an older home or apartment can be a difficult task, especially if the previous owner covered every square inch with wallpaper.

Removing all that old, ugly wallpaper is no easy task, but the tips below should help you get it done with a minimum of fuss and bother.

Prepare the area

Cover the floor with drop cloths, as well as everything you can’t move. Wallpaper glue gets everywhere, and is hard to remove from other surfaces.

Get the wallpaper wet

Water alone won’t cut it, but you don’t have to use a harsh chemical wallpaper remover either. Liquid fabric softener, mixed half-and-half with water, works just as well. Put this mixture in a spray bottle and spray the wall. Make sure you only spray the area that you think you can remove in 15 minutes, otherwise you risk the paper drying. After letting it set for a few minutes, you should be able to remove the wallpaper fairly easily.

Remove the wallpaper

Using a metal drywall or putty knife, start scraping off the old wallpaper.

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Clean the walls

You’ll be left with little bits of wallpaper glue dotting your walls. A Scotch-Brite pad dipped in your stripping mixture will take care of these.

For wallpaper that is about 20 to 30 years old, you might need to use a different tactic. Most wallpaper from this era is usually vinyl over paper backing. This vinyl prevents your stripping solution from soaking through the paper to get at the glue holding it to the wall. For this type of wallpaper, you’ll need to slide your putty knife under it near a seam and peel off as much of this vinyl as you can, then use hot water and your fabric softener to soak the paper.

It takes work, but once the old wallpaper is removed, you’ll be able to put a new coat of paint and a fresh face on your new living space.

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Allkindza



About The Author

James Palmer is a freelance journalist and copywriter who has written for a wide variety of publications. For more, visit

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