How to Remove Wallpaper

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Tools Required
  • Screwdriver
  • Wheeled scoring tool
  • Wallpaper scraper
  • Putty knife or razor scraper
  • Wall sponge
  • Choice of: sponge mop
    and bucket, paint roller
    and tray, or power steamer
Materials Required
  • Masking tape
  • Plastic drop cloths
  • Old towels
  • Gel wallpaper remover

Before You Begin

Below are the steps involved to remove wallpaper. Sound too complicated and time consuming? Here's a link to Home Advisor, a free referral service that matches homeowners with local contractors.

  • Step 1 : Remove dry-strippable wallpaper

    Remove dry-strippable wallpaper

    Try this first to see if the paper is dry-strippable: Simply loosen the paper at a corner with a single-edge razor blade, and then pull slowly at a low angle. If the wallpaper does not strip off, or if only the decorative facing comes off leaving behind its paper backing, you'll need to use wallpaper remover.

  • Step 2 : Turn off electricity to the room

    Turn off the power to the room at the main power panel to prevent getting a shock from the exposed wiring in the electrical boxes. Then remove the electrical outlet and switch plate covers with a screwdriver, then cover the outlets with masking tape.

  • Step 3 : Protect floors from wetness

    Protect floors from wetness

    Tape plastic drop cloths to the top edge of baseboard molding so the plastic drapes down the baseboard and extends a few feet out onto the floor. Or use a couple layers of pre-taped plastic drop cloths, which have a gummed paper edge. They're available in various sizes. Plastic can be very slippery to walk on, so be careful. It helps to tape the opposite edge to the floor.

  • Step 4 : Perforate the paper with a wheeled scoring tool

     Perforate the paper with a wheeled scoring tool

    Perforate the face of the wallpaper with a wheeled scoring tool so the wallpaper remover can penetrate it and soften the adhesive holding it on the wall. This is particularly true for vinyl, vinyl-faced or other non-porous wall coverings. Roll the tool all over the surface to make hundreds of little cuts through the paper. It's better than trying to use a utility knife, which can easily cut through the drywall's paper facing or make deep scratches in plaster walls.

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