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Removing Wallpaper

For the best possible results when hanging wallpaper, we recommend removing old wallcovering before installing new paper. There are several efficient methods to remove paper. The method you use will depend upon the kind of paper you're removing and how your wallpaper was originally hung.

Removing Strippable Wallpaper
Tools and Materials: Sponge, hot water, and a broad knife.

If you've recently hung new wallpaper, you probably have strippable wallpaper, which is designed to pull away from the wall easily.

  1. If necessary, soften the paste underneath the paper with a sponge and hot water.
  2. Scrape the paper off with a six-inch broad knife and remove as much of the residue as possible.
  3. Rinse the walls with TSP or with a neutralizing solution of 1 cup white vinegar mixed in 1 gallon of water.
Using Wallpaper Remover
This method is often more easy and less messy than steaming and works well with older, difficult to remove wallcoverings.
Tools and Materials: Sprayer, wallpaper remover, broad knife, sponge, small perforation tool, trisodium phosphate or white vinegar and water.
  1. Mix your remover according to the instructions above.
  2. If the wallpaper has a vinyl or water-resistant surface, use your perforation tool to break the surface so the remover can reach the adhesive.
  3. Spray a fine mist of the remover on your wall, starting at the bottom and working up to the ceiling, one area at a time. When you've sprayed all the walls, repeat this process twice, making sure to spray in the same manner and order.
  4. Wait for 15 minutes as the remover works.
  5. Using your broad knife, scrape each strip of wallpaper off the wall, working from the bottom up. Work your way around the room in the same order that you sprayed. The strips will come off easily.
  6. Spray the stripped walls with the remaining remover, then use a sponge to remove any adhesive residue.
  7. Rinse the walls with TSP or with a neutralizing solution of 1 cup white vinegar mixed in 1 gallon of water.
Recipe for Wallpaper Remover
Our decorators have found that modifying commercial wallpaper remover helps you remove old wallpaper much more quickly and efficiently. Combine the following:
  • 3 gallons of very hot water
  • 1 bottle of wallpaper remover with reactive enzymes (the label should state that it's enzyme based)
  • 1/4 cup liquid fabric softener
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
Steam Removal
Tools: A steamer, wallscraper or broad knife, sponge, trisodium phosphate or white vinegar and water.
  1. If the wallpaper has a vinyl or water-resistant surface, use your perforation tool to break the surface so the steam can reach the adhesive.
  2. Steam the surface of your wall, starting at the bottom and working up to the ceiling, one area at a time. If you've got exceptionally difficult adhesive, you may need to steam each strip twice before removing.
  3. Using your broad knife, scrape a strip of wallpaper off the wall, working from the bottom up. Work on each strip of paper shortly after steaming, while the adhesive is still warmed from the steam. The strips should come off easily.
  4. Use a sponge and hot water to remove any adhesive residue.
  5. Rinse the walls with TSP or with a neutralizing solution of 1 cup white vinegar mixed in 1 gallon of water.

With your old wallcovering removed, your walls should be ready for your new wallpaper. At this point, be sure to apply a coat of wallcovering primer. With primer, you'll get the best results when hanging your new paper.

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