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How To Remove Old Wall Paper

How To Remove Old Wall Paper

Q. I searched for and couldn’t find any issues on good ways to remove wall paper. I have a room that has 30 years of old wallpaper on it, any ideas??? It is stuck! – Christina

A. This is for the person with the old wallpaper. Mix a solution of fabric softener and hot water 1/2 and 1/2 and put in a spray bottle. Spray the walls and start peeling. You can soak a rag and rub the wallpapered walls as well but the spray bottle is less messy. My wall paper was 20 years old and came off like a charm. Just clean the wall after with TSP (TSP is just the name of the product. I guess it is only available in Canada. It is a all purpose heavy duty cleaner in a granule form. It removes wax, grease, wallpaper residue, cleans concrete etc. I don’t know what an equivalent would be that you could purchase in the US.) to remove the glue residue. – Monica

A. I saw this on "Trading Spaces"…you wet down the wall with a sponge, then with a scraper you take off the paper, for the STUCK on paper use the steam setting on the iron to lift it up then continue scraping. good luck – BB

A. Hi, Christina wanted to know about removing 30-year-old wallpaper, and said it was really stuck on. If it is really stuck on, then she doesn’t have to remove it to paint. There are excellent primers available to paint over the wallpaper with, as long as there are no loose seams. Put on the primer, put on the paint, save yourself a lot of hassle. I learned the hard way in my 100-year-old house. Sometimes you don’t want to know what’s behind the wallpaper! While painting is the cheapest way to change the look of a room, try to buy the best paint you can afford. It does make a difference. Hope this helps, – Cathy

A. I have removed a LOT of different types of wallpaper, and have found this to be the absolute easiest method. Get a good quality, large capacity squirt bottle (you’ll use it a lot, so spend an extra dollar on this). Starting at a corner or intersection, squirt about 5 square feet, all over the top of the wallpaper (even metallics and vinyl). Let set for about 15 minutes, then repeat, expanding the area you squirt. Now, with a large putty knife (I like to work with a 3" blade and a 1" blade) hold it next to the wall and gently lift up a corner of the paper. Using fingers, gently pull a large strip off. Continue as you are able, spraying in advance. Once you get started, it comes off very quickly. Use the scrapers to remove little patches of paper. Finally, wipe down the wall with a rough (like terry) cloth to remove extra wall paper paste. As a reminder, wall paper paste usually has pesticides in it, so be sure to wash your hands when finished or use gloves. – Valerie


A. We had a 100 yr. old home with the same problem. There was layer after layer of wallpaper. We tried solvents and rented steamers, and finally, the best method was getting a spray bottle full of warm water, and a putty knife. (alot less expensive also) You spray a spot, letting it sit a couple mins. then spray again and start scraping it while wet. It is a very long process but you will be happy you did when it is finished. You will want to get a big trash can and cover your floor w/ plastic. If you happen to get knocks in the plaster from all the scraping, apply spackle and sand smooth before painting. We invited some people over in one room and made a party of it. Everyone went to different corners and went at it. It was messy and fun!

A. I have had luck with a combination of a wallpaper steamer and a mixture of fabric softener and water. In a spray bottle, put a solution of 9 parts water to 1 part fabric softener. Score scoring the wallpaper, pull as much of it off as you can, then in small sections, spray the softener solution & steam the wall. Use a scraper to gently scrape up the wallpaper & adhesive. You have to be careful not to tear the drywall. If you are painting & want a textured wall, I highly recommend the spray-on texture you can find in the paint section of most home improvement stores. Good luck!! Theresa in Spring, TX

A. Hi Cristina, Home Depot has a great information page about different ways to remove wall paper (wall paper steamer, liquid removers, etc.) The page helps you assess which way might work best for your wall paper, and they even rent wall steamers out if you decide that’s what you want to do. Just visit their website at – Good luck! -Rebecca

A. When I redecorated our house, I would use a Paper Tiger (available in Walmart crafts section) and ran that over the wallpaper to score it (create holes). Then, I just sponged on warm soapy (dish soap) water. I tried some of the chemical strippers and wasn’t happy at all. I had much better luck just using a pan of warm dishwater. I would thoroughly soak the wallpaper and let it sit for a couple of minutes and then just scrape off with a putty knife. It was a mess, but it worked. – Beth Casey

A. In answer to the 30 years of wall paper build up. We had the same issue when we remodeled. I had tried the routine water and vinegar and even bought some mixture that you add to water and all it did was make my arms sore and the paper came off in tiny little bits. Our solution was to rent a wall paper steamer from our local hardware store. The charge was $5 a day. It’s a electrical unit that you fill with water and wait until it gets hot. The steamer part is about the size of a piece of paper. There is a hose from the steam tank to this flat plastic part. Hold it on the wall for about a minute or less and use a large putty knife to scrape the paper off. For us it took of 8 of our twelve layers at once. It was amazing and it did the job. Just remember to lay down lots of newspaper before you work to wick up excess moisture and, of course, the wet paper mess. No chemicals used, it was great.

A. I have tried two methods…….. If there is just one layer of wallpaper…….buy a scoring tool and DIF ,follow instructions . I had to apply it twice. first application removed the top layer……second removed the backing. I didn’t wait any time as they suggested because it seemed to dry out. Now in my kitchen where there were multiple layers, I first tried the DIF but I ended up getting a Steamer to finally get it off. Perhaps there is someplace that you can rent one. I bought a refurbished one from an online site. Hope this helps, Kaye

24 thoughts on “How To Remove Old Wall Paper”

  1. I’m in the process of removing old wallpaper and borders from an older home. I’ve found that for those really stuck borders and wallpaper I use a heat gun and scraper. It’s slow, smelly, and time consuming, but it always gets it off. Just wear good leather gloves, the paper gets really hot and sticky.
    I’ve tried many different ways from hot water and high priced so called remover liquids. Seems I wind up breaking out the old heat gun rather than fight it for days on end. Good luck and don’t burn yourself on the business end of the heat gun.

  2. This might help you answer that question found at

    We were told by a lady at Lowes who had hung wallpaper as a job for years that you can put new border over old (and I am assuming just over the paper backing if you get one that is thick and textured that it won’t show through. We will be trying that in our breakfast area where we just had border. Again the paper came off easily but the backing won’t budge. My new border is wider and thicker so we think we will be okay. Hope yours turns out okay.

  3. the wallpaper came off with no problem but we can’t get the glue completely off the walls! we have tried Dif gel with HOT water and vinegar, then scrape, scrape, scrape,………….but there are still many spots with the glue. my walls look blotchy and will probably never hold paint! any suggestions?

    1. Sandi,

      First try washing your walls thoroughly with TSP (trisodium phosphate) and a scrubby sponge. It’s generally available at hardware stores (you can google “where to buy TSP”) and there’s instructions on the box. If that works, and it should, rinse thoroughly, then paint with a good quality primer (not paint+primer).

      If that doesn’t work, try sanding the glue areas so there are no hard edges to the glue shape- these will show through your paint. Then do two good coats of an oil based primer, like Killz. This will stick to and cover the glue, old paint, and just about anything else in creation. It smells, be warned. Let that fully cure/dry and paint over it with regular latex paint.

      Good luck!

  4. Surprising magic wallpaper removal assistance – a WATER PIC ! As an on-going project in my home, I was periodically slogging away at the bathroom paper. Whats wrong with my new water pic? Off-on with the switch, the pressure dial, the extension cord to the plug- pazam! A stream of water came out pulsating, gyrating all over the place. When I finally got the excess water cleaned up, enough time had passed that I saw the wallpaper that had changed color enough to see wet through to the glue layer. I could easily peel it off with my hands or putty knife. What I learned was PATIENCE in letting the water soak in was more effective than any other tool or product tried. I did use the water pic on hard-to reach areas, but H2O spray bottle+time = success! Duh !

  5. I am trying to remove the old vinyl wallpaper in my bathroom, but it is single layered.

    It looks almost like sheets of self adhesive vinyl (like decals).

    Soaking it with a hot water solution doesn’t work. Any ideas?

  6. Forget all the other nonsense, buy a pressurised garden plant sprayer, the 10ltr kind that you fill with water. Pump it up, spray the wall, “5mins” have some wine “10 mins”,spray it again “5mins””more wine 10 mins” ” then strip it with a flat scraper. Job done.
    ps some steamers can damage the origional plaster under the old wall paper, hope that makes sense.

  7. I am currently working on removing layers of wallpaper in our 1926 home. On advice of a friend I filled a spray bottle with very warm water (2/3’s) and with very warm vinegar (1/3). I then added three to four drops of blue Dawn dish washing liquid. Spray on and let set for 10 to 15 minutes. I did a whole wall. Go back and spray again. Then begin to scrape with a 3” putty knife. Works like a charm.

  8. I have a house full of vinyl wallpaper. The only way to do it for me was pull up the vinyl layer and then soak the paper layer and scrape off. The paper is pretty easy. The vinyl layer is a real pain.

    The “scoring” tools are completely useless. No liquid gets thru vinyl. This why your shower curtain does its job.

    The paper need to soak and the only way to do that is peel the vinyl layer off first.

    To the moron talking about fabric softener being poison – why dont you actually learn a subject before speaking. There are those that do and those that eat cheetos ont eh interweb telling others how impossible/dangerous activity is.

  9. I had an impossibly tough paper backing and glue that nothing seemed to work on. I tried every commercial and homemade product available, and could only spray and scrape about a two foot section in an hour. What I finally tried that worked was a “safe” paint stripper. The one I used was Smart Strip, but others would probably work as well. It can be applied with a brush, roller, or airless sprayer. (don’t spray close to the painted ceiling or trim!) It only had to sit about 15 min, and the paper and glue came right off. No fumes, no gloves, and it’s water based, so I just wiped down the walls with a sponge after scraping. It’s more expensive than elbow grease, but worth every penny for me.

  10. VINYL paper,USE SCORING TOOL SO WATER WILL PENETRATE. need to use HOT .The.last layer is easy hot water and scrape it off or pull some off then scrap.I have a kitchen hot water dispenser for instant hot water works well..

  11. Not sure if anyone has said it here but wallpaper that was put up between the 1930’s and 1990s may contain asbestos. As well as the paste in which it is put up with. If you know the paper is from that era you should get a asbestos specialist to look and test it before you do anything.

  12. I have 30+ years of several layers of wallpaper to remove. The wall underneath is Who Knows What not dry wall for sure it almost looks like it has horse hair in it. Some of the layers have begun to separate from the wall. Any ideas on how to remove it and how to prep the walls without damaging them? My house was built in 1908,
    Thank You For Any Suggestions!
    Ps isn’t TSP the poison they are talking about that’s in Cheerios?

  13. I really like the idea about using the squirt bottle. That is something that we will have to test out. We recently moved into an older home and we have been wanting to remove the old wallpaper. I haven’t really known how to go about removing it so we might call someone in for the job. We will be sure to keep these tips in mind, thank you for sharing!

  14. How can I remove three layers of old wallpaper off the ceiling? It is hard getting wallpaper off the wall. Even more so with wallpaper on the ceiling. Need Help!

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