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3 Effective Ways to Remove Stubborn Wallpaper

For many people, removing wallpaper isn’t something they look forward to. Years of old glue or other adhesives can make the job both difficult and time consuming. But there are some effective methods to get the job done. Here are 3 of the best ways remove stubborn wallpaper.

old wallpaper

Before you start, prep the area

The first thing you want to do even before you try to tackle that stubborn wallpaper is prep the area around where you’ll be working. This is going to be a messy job with lots of bits of debris being pulled off your wall. Plus, a fair amount of water and/or cleaning solution could be splashed around, depending on the method you choose.

Protect your surrounding floors by laying down a tarp or some plastic sheeting. Also have some cloth or paper towels on hand for any excess splashes or area you need to clean up.

Then score your wallpaper…

remove stubborn wallpaper: scoring tool
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Next, regardless of the removal method you go with, you’ll want to score your wallpaper. This creates small holes in the paper so your cleaning solutions can more easily penetrate them and do their job. Be liberal with your scoring. The more you do, the easier the eventual removal will likely be.

And buy a wallpaper scraper and large sponge

An important tool you’ll need is a good wallpaper scraper. You can get one with a longer handle for those high to reach spots, but the main thing to remember is to use it carefully. While you do want to remove the wallpaper, you don’t want to damage the wall in the process.

Once you get the wallpaper off, there will likely be some adhesive residue. Use the sponge to remove that and clean your walls so you have a tidier surface if you want to paint or resurface them.

Once you’re all prepped, it’s time to get down to business.

Method 1: Water and vinegar

The first method is all natural, and the most affordable. It involves a simple solution of equal amounts of water and white vinegar. Simply add the liquids to a spray bottle and apply the solution to the wallpaper you want to remove.

remove stubborn wallpaper: water and white vinegar in spray bottle
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After a few minutes, you should be able to start using your scraper to separate the wallpaper from the wall. Keep applying the solution as you work to remove those more stubborn areas.

You’ll want to have some ventilation with this method as vinegar can have a strong odor, so opening a nearby window is a good idea. Also, since this requires a lot of liquid application, be sure your have that protective tarp laid down and those towels handy!

Method 2: Wallpaper Steamer

Sometimes, you need a little extra help to remove stubborn wallpaper, so if the water and vinegar method alone isn’t working, it may be time to consider buying or renting a steamer.

Wallpaper steamers work by using a steaming pad to target certain areas. Simply place the pad against the wallpaper you want to remove and allow the steam to penetrate where you scored it. This helps soften the glue underneath for easier removal.

wallpaper steamer
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How long you need to hold the steamer over a given area can depend on the age of your wallpaper and how tough the glue is, so do some trial and error to see what works best for you, but you should start to see some peeling after a few seconds. Above all, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once the wallpaper starts to peel off, you can use your scraper to help things along. The best thing about this method is that it can help you peel off large areas at once and generally makes the removal process easier. One downside is that it will cost more than the water and vinegar solution. But that may be a worthwhile tradeoff if you’re looking to save some time, and save yourself from extra arm soreness!

Method 3: Use a wallpaper removal solution

Another method to remove stubborn wallpaper is to buy some specific wallpaper removal solution. There are several brands on the market, some that are even child and pet friendly. To use them, simply spray the solution directly on the walls (you may need to dilute with water first depending on the brand).

The solution should penetrate the wallpaper you scored and start to dissolve the adhesive underneath. To remove the wallpaper, gently use your scraper.

Again, you’ll want to ventilate the area and have plenty of garbage bags on hand as you may end up with a lot of smaller scraps to clean up, but this should get you well on your way to removing that stubborn wallpaper. Tip: consider buying larger bottles as you may go through the solution quickly depending on the size of the room you’re working on.


Wrap up

It may not be an easy job to remove stubborn wallpaper, but it’s rewarding when it’s done. Your walls will be a clean slate for you to paint, resurface, or even re-wallpaper! For more remodeling tips, check out the rest of our blog or visit our YouTube channel!

Are you thinking about doing a home remodel and aren’t sure where to start? We’re happy to discuss your project. Simply schedule a conversation with us!

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