When it comes to wallpaper, what goes up must come down. If you’re ready to give your walls a makeover, the first step is learning how to remove wallpaper. Whether you’ll be painting or re-papering with new wallpaper, experts agree that taking down the old paper is essential. Fortunately, you don’t need to hire a pro—it’s a DIY project you can handle in a day.
No matter what type of wallpaper you’re dealing with, we’ll show you how to remove it as painlessly as possible. The specifics of these removal methods vary (and there isn’t one best way to remove wallpaper), but they all will successfully take down stubborn wallpaper and leave you with a smooth and undamaged wall surface—ripe for your remodel dreams. Read on to find out what you need to do to strip your wall coverings without damaging your walls.
Begin by removing items from the walls and moving furniture to the center of the room, or out of the room if possible. Cover floors and remaining furniture with drop cloths to protect them from getting wet.
Shut off the electricity to the room and cover any electrical outlets or light switches with painter’s tape. (Note: You can always come back later and add wallpaper to your outlet covers so they blend into the walls—or pick a fun contrasting print so they stand out. This step requires removing the wall plates and cutting a piece of wallpaper about half an inch bigger on all sides, gluing the paper on with Mod Podge, carefully trimming the edges and adding openings for plugs with a razor knife, and then reattaching the plates to the wall. Voilà!)
You’ll want to figure out whether you have plaster walls or drywall before you start peeling. Drywall can be damaged if it gets too wet, so be careful not to over soak it. It’s also important to determine what types of wallpaper you’re working with. Use a putty knife to loosen a corner of the paper and try to peel it off. If it comes right off, then you have strippable wallpaper. (You lucky thing, you! This may be the easiest way to remove wallpaper.) If the wallpaper peels away but leaves a paper backing, then you’re dealing with peelable wallpaper. If the paper doesn’t budge, then you have a traditional wallpaper that will need to be removed with water and a chemical stripper (sorry). Below, you’ll find instructions for how to remove each type of wallpaper.
1. Gather Your Materials
2. Loosen the Corner and Pull
Use your putty knife to lift the corner of the paper. Use your hands to peel the paper from the wall, pulling as close to the wall as you can to avoid tearing the paper. If the paper does rip, loosen another corner and start again. Repeat the process around the entire room.
3. Clean the Walls
Once all the paper has been removed, clean the walls with soap and warm water to remove any residue. Allow the walls to dry completely before painting.
1. Gather Your Materials