How to Remove Old Wallpaper

Interior Painting

Removing old wallpaper is not burdensome if you only have to remove a layer or two. However, most homeowners find that the removal of wallpaper is a very challenging activity. Often, you are faced with scraping three or more layers from a wall.

In this case, you have no choice but to strip the paper away. Normally, if one layer is on the wall, you can repaper over the existing paper, provided that the current paper does not show any buckling, wrinkles, or bubbles. As noted, in most cases, re-papering is not so simple, however, and you have to prep the area first.

However, before you proceed, you need to consider the condition and type of wall. If only one layer of paper is displayed, you still need to remove it if it is made of vinyl, plastic, or foil. Any new adhesive will not adhere to these types of surfaces. Therefore, even a single layer must be removed in these instances.

Also, do not cover up one layer if you hear crinkling when you run your hand over the wall. If you hear this warning sign, the wallpaper is buckling and cannot remain on the wall. You also need to remove the paper if you see tears in the corners.

Plaster Walls

Once you have confirmed that a removal needs to take place, you should look at the type of wall with which you will be working. Plaster walls are normally found in homes that are over 50 years old. A wood lath is secured to a wooden frame, and covered with about three coats of plaster. The walls are considered more solid than drywall.

Drywall Walls

Drywall—a newer type of wall—is made of a chalk-like sheet that is covered with thin cardboard. Drywall sheets are nailed onto wood frames. They give off a hollow sound if you knock on them. Because drywall is lighter than plaster and not as solid, you need to be careful when scraping wallpaper from the walls.

Getting a Wall Ready

Before you remove the wallpaper, you need to get the wall ready for the task. First, take all pictures and decorations off the walls. Next, remove as much furniture as you can from the area. Any furnishings that remain should be covered. Place towels over the baseboards before taping the towels with drop cloths.

Removing Strippable Wallpaper

To remove strippable wallpaper, you need to use a liquid concentrate designed for stripping wallpaper, and mix it with hot water. Apply the concentrate to the walls with either a sprayer or a brush. You should always work from top to bottom, one area at a time. Allow the paper to soak before applying a scraper to the wall.

Removing Washable Wallpaper

If the wallpaper is washable, it will be more difficult to remove. In order for the paper to absorb water, you need to break through the film that covers the paper. Employ a scoring tool to create slits before spraying the paper with water. Spray the water in the just-made holes so it can penetrate the covering. Wait ten minutes before scraping the paper off the wall with a putty knife.

Scroll to Top