Despite its reputation, wallpaper removal can be accomplished more effectively when some basic principles are applied. Of these, not the least are preparation and knowledge. Let this article provide some guidelines so that your room can get a fresh start with fewer headaches.

Assemble Materials

As with many household projects, it is best to assemble needed tools before beginning. Interrupting the process, with trips for supplies, doesn’t keep things running smoothly. Here is a list of important materials to have on hand before wallpapering:

  • Safety glasses
  • Gloves
  • Drop cloth
  • Screwdriver
  • Tape
  • Razor blade or scraper
  • Wallpaper scoring tool
  • Wallpaper remover solution (Knowing wall dimensions will guide how much to purchase.)
  • Sponge
  • Plaster or Drywall Compound and Plaster Knife (possibly)
  • Primer and Paint Roller

If not already acquired, these items can be easily purchased from your neighborhood home improvement or hardware store.

Prepare Room

Get the room ready beforehand, rather than along the way. It saves time by contributing to a smooth work flow. Here are preparation basics:

1. Cover the floor with a drop cloth, also covering furniture that hasn’t been moved out of the area.

2. For safety, turn off power to electrical circuits involving relevant walls, by switching the breaker in the main electrical panel OFF.

3. Remove outlet covers and switch plates with a screwdriver. Carefully place them, along with the screws, where they’ll be easily found later.

4. Using masking tape, cover the now exposed outlets to keep them dry.

5. Remove any wall fixtures.

Remove Wallpaper

1. Characteristic of old wallpaper, remove any that is already peeling off. Slowly peel away sections that are hanging, avoiding ripping. If resistant, use a scraper or razor blade, sliding it beneath the paper, being careful not to damage the wallboard. (See link at end if dealing with plaster walls.)

2. For the remaining wallpaper, use a special scoring tool, a prerequisite to remover solution usually needed for much of the job. Since remover is sprayed or sponged on, scoring the paper first by rolling the wheeled tool evenly over it, making tiny perforations, will importantly aid remover penetration.

3. Apply wallpaper remover, wearing rubber gloves, safety glasses. Follow manufacturer’s instructions, as products vary. Some need mixing with water, others are ready for application. Spraying or sponging evenly, cover the entire wall surface, working from top to bottom. A darkening of wallpaper favorably indicates absorption as the remover dissolves the glue that held the paper onto the wall.

4. Allow remover to penetrate, about 15 minutes, then rewet the wallpaper again with solution. Immediately, start removing paper at the seam, peeling it up and off the wall, getting as much off in one piece as possible. Should paper resist, use a scraper to work up underneath, being cautious not to damage the wallboard. Spray or sponge on additional remover as required.

5. Use a sponge and hot water to rinse the wall thoroughly, after carefully removing any leftover adhesive or bits of paper with solution.

6. The wall’s condition will determine what’s next. Options include adding plaster or drywall compound to fill in holes or damaged areas. If the walls appear rough and uneven due to the removal process, sanding and/or applying a light coat of plaster (or drywall compound) is necessary.

7. Prime the wall with two coats of high quality primer.

With wallpaper removed and walls clean, smooth, and primed, contemplating a fresh new look makes the organization, effort, and focus in applying the above steps well worthwhile. Undoubtedly, whether choosing to paint or repaper next, the stage will be set for a new chapter in the life of the room!


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