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Home Remedies to Remove Wallpaper with These Tips

calander Oct 10 , 2021 user-icon Nash Painting

As you gaze upon your home interior looking for ways to improve its appearance, your eyes might fixate on that outdated wallpaper that’s been resting on your walls for who knows how long. Perhaps it’s finally time to peel away those archaic coverings and give your walls a fresh start. Unfortunately, your wallpaper won’t just remove itself. In fact, some wallpaper can be quite stubborn, unwilling to easily budge. The good news is that there’s always a way to get rid of your old wallpaper -- some methods are simply better than others.

If you’d rather get the job done quickly and avoid major messes, you might hire wallpaper removal professionals to tackle it for you. On the other hand, you might enjoy taking on certain home improvement projects yourself (it’s also a good way to save some money if you’re willing to put in the time and effort required to achieve good results). If you fall into this latter DIY camp, you’ll be happy to know that there are several home remedies to remove wallpaper, and none of them are overly complicated.

Let’s explore how you can safely and successfully tear down your wallpaper on your own.

How to Remove Wallpaper

How Hard Is It to Remove Wallpaper, Anyway?

If you’ve never torn down wallpaper before, you might not know what’s in store for you as you prepare for this project. In truth, wallpaper removal varies in difficulty depending on a number of factors, such as how long it’s been there (date of installation), how much there is (i.e., room size), the type of glue holding it in place, whether or not it’s been painted over (removing painted over wallpaper has a unique set of challenges), and more. Regardless of the details, however, virtually every wallpaper removal job can easily make a mess, especially if you don’t take the proper precautions. Indeed, taking the wrong approach can end up damaging your drywall, so it pays to plan in advance and stock up on the right supplies.

What You’ll Need for Wallpaper Removal

So, what exactly should you have on hand for your DIY wallpaper removal endeavor? Here’s a basic list to get started:

  • Drop cloths

  • Sponges and/or cloths

  • Utility knife

  • Wallpaper scoring tool

  • Putty knife

  • Painter’s tape

  • Screwdriver

  • Spray bottle

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks, eyewear, head covering, close-toed shoes, etc.

  • Home cleaning solution
    • Hot water

    • Vinegar

    • Fabric softener

This last item, cleaning solution, lies at the heart of any home remedy for wallpaper removal. Next, we’ll discuss how to concoct an effective solution to facilitate the wallpaper removal process.

How to Make Wallpaper Removing Solution at Home

You can find several wallpaper stripping products online and in hardware stores, but many of these products contain chemicals that you might prefer not to have lingering in your home. Moreover, if you’re like most other DIY-ers, you want to find ways to get the job done using stuff you already have at home. Three simple household products can be used to create an effective homemade wallpaper removing solution (as listed above): hot water, vinegar, and fabric softener.

Hot water isn’t always effective on its own, but when properly applied, it can effectively loosen wallpaper. For this home remedy, you’ll need to boil water, carefully pour it into a spray bottle, peel away the first layer of wallpaper (to allow the moisture to seep inside), and then spray the hot water on the surface, wetting the whole area but not soaking it. Once the entire wall is damp, wait for a half hour or so and attempt to scrape away the soft, loosened wallpaper.

If you’re looking for more oomph in your homemade wallpaper removal solution, vinegar can come in handy. This acidic substance can quickly soften the adhesive holding the wallpaper in place. This method requires that you mix vinegar and water together, either in equal amounts or a 1:3 ratio of vinegar to water (depending on how strong you want the solution to be). Once again, pour the solution into a spray bottle, apply it to your wallpaper, and let it sit for 20-30 minutes before scraping away the material.

Fabric softener can be used as a DIY wallpaper removing solution, too, slackening the glue and softening the paper. You shouldn’t apply it directly to your wallpaper, however. Instead, add 20% of softener to water in your sprayer. Spray small portions of wallpaper at a time to prevent the solution from drying up (which will render it useless and cause problems). Let the solution rest for 20-30 minutes to allow for full penetration and then scrape away.

If the above methods don’t do the trick or you have a hard time accessing any of the materials for whatever reason, ammonia mixed with hot water is another alternative.

Breaking Down the Wallpaper Removal Process

Now that you’ve got your homemade wallpaper solution and other key supplies at the ready, it’s time to get to work. Here are the basic steps for proper home wallpaper removal:

1. Clear the Room and Cover Floors and Other Surfaces

We’ve said it several times before but it bears repeating: removing wallpaper is messy. Remove what you can from the room and cover what you can’t (like floors, electrical outlets, fixed furniture, etc.) with drop cloths, plastic tarps, and painter’s tape. Doing so will both protect these surfaces from potential harm and make the cleanup process that much easier.

2. Remove the Outer Layer of Wallpaper

Most types of wallpaper feature an outer layer that can be pried up with a scraper or putty knife. Try to remove as much of this top surface as possible before moving on (in some cases, the wallpaper might come away fairly easily in large sheets).

3. Score the Wallpaper

Next, you’ll want to basically poke holes in your wallpaper so it’s receptive to your cleaning solution. This process is known as scoring. Use your scoring tool to gently perforate the wallpaper, making sure to not poke through to the underlying wall (this can damage your drywall)

4. Mix and Apply Removing Solution

Now that your wallpaper is nice and porous, gather whichever homemade wallpaper removal method you plan on using and properly apply it to the surface. It’s often best to work on four-foot sections at a time to prevent your solution from drying out. Allow the solution to set for the proper amount of time (usually 30 minutes).

5. Scrape Away Remaining Paper

From there, focus on removing as much of the loose, wet material as possible with your scraper.

6. Take Care of Remaining Adhesive

After you’ve scraped away the wallpaper, you might be left with some residual glue still stuck to the wall. Use your removal solution once more and do your best to scrape away the rest of this glue without damaging your drywall. Wipe down the wall as you go with a clean, damp rag.

If all goes as planned, you should have just successfully removed your wallpaper on your own using homemade remedies. Now, it’s time to think about interior painting.

Feeling at Home with Wallpaper Removal?

Even if the instructions here are easy to grasp and follow, you might not feel totally confident in your DIY abilities -- no problem at all. At Nash Painting, we admire and encourage the DIY spirit, but we’re also well aware that many people don’t have the time or experience to nail every home renovation all the time. That’s why we’re happy to deliver our expertise to homes and businesses across Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, TN, whether you need help with wallpaper removal, painting, or more. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!