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How to remove wallpaper? In all honesty we were newbies with this kind of project. When we first walked in to our 1970’s fixer upper, the first thing we noticed was that there was wallpaper…a lot of wallpaper. I’m talking about a medium pink living room, bright blue bathrooms, outdated gingham trim in the kitchen, ducks in wildlife in another bathroom and some embossed victorian style in the bedrooms. It was the first project we knew we needed to tackle before we started in on the flooring or anything else. See what we were working with below…

For about a week solid my mom and I went through room by room removing all the wallpaper we could see. Before we started, we did what any good fixer upper would do…we did our research. We read lots of articles, we watched YouTube videos and we talked to all of our friends about the best ways to remove wallpaper.

We researched and tried just about everything we could think of; steamers, dish soap mixtures and even special wall paper removal solution you can buy at the store. Really, we kept hoping for quickest and easiest method so we could get the job done and over with as fast as possible. What we found is that when it comes to wallpaper that has been there for 30+ years, it will take a lot of time and a lot of elbow grease.

Ultimately, the method we liked the best ended up being the simplest. Here is our best step by step guide for how to remove wallpaper and exactly what we did so you can skip right to the good information.

Supplies Needed for Removing Wallpaper

The good news, is you will probably have most of these supplies around the house already.

1-2 big sponges

1-2 Plastic Scrapers

1-2 Plastic Spray Bottles

Rubber Gloves

Paper Towels


Step One

Fill a spray bottle with WARM water. You can fill it with hot water if you will be waiting a few minutes before you start into your project and wait for the water to cool down a bit. Otherwise, between luke warm and hot water is the ideal temperature.

Step Two

Put on your gloves and spray the wall with warm water. We found that spraying a 5′ x 5′ section of the wall worked best. Start at the top near the ceiling and work your way down. Spray more water at the top since gravity will help the water drip down the wall.

Step Three

Use the sponge to catch any drips and spread the water evenly over the section of the wall you are working with.

Step Four

Let that section of the wall soak for 5 minutes while you repeat steps two-three on the next section of the wall. The key here is to let it soak. If you spray and and immediately try to remove the wallpaper, most likely it won’t come off very easily. Letting it soak is what will help you remove the most wallpaper chunks with the least damage to your walls.

Step Five

Go back to the first section after 5-10 minutes of it soaking. Grab your plastic scraper, find a corner or a seam of the wall paper and use the scraper to gently pull off the wall paper. It should come off fairly easily. If it’s still giving you trouble chances are it was glued on really well. You may need to repeat steps two and three again and let it soak for a second time. After soaking a second time, then go back with the scraper and try removing it.

A step-by-step of the simplest way to removing old wallpaper.

That’s really all there is to it. Here are some important notes…

  • Don’t get the wall sopping wet. Soaking the wallpaper is an important step, but too much water on the wall can start to cause damage to wall. You don’t want create water damage as a side effect.
  • When you are using the plastic scraper, be careful not to dig too far in to the wall. If you’re not careful, the glue is sometimes harder in certain areas to dissolve than others. As a consequence, when you start to peel back the the wallpaper, you might take some drywall along with it. This happened to us in one of the bathrooms and our walls were pot marked with divots in the drywall where the glue didn’t come off easily, or we didn’t let it soak long enough. Now we are in the process of re-drywalling the entire bathroom. It’s one of those extra projects we could have avoided had we done exactly what we listed above rather than being inpatient and not giving the wallpaper time to soak.
  • Be patient. Be patient with the water, be patient with the wallpaper and most of all be patient with yourself. Most wallpaper removal jobs will require some time. It’s okay, the time you spend now is much better than giving up time toward larger projects in the future.

Good luck! Let us know how your project goes and what works for you.

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