How to Remove Wall Paper Without Tearing Drywall

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How to Remove Wall Paper Without Tearing Drywall
Remove outdated or unwanted wall paper yourself. (bed head made of metal. wall paper image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com)

Unsightly or tired wallpaper can make a room look shabby and dated. Change or remove it to increase a room's aesthetic and financial value. Extra care must be taken when removing wallpaper. Excessive force and using too much water can damage drywall. Knowing the type of wallpaper that will be removed is also important. Gently lift up a corner of a strip of wallpaper at an angle with a putty knife. If it pulls away cleanly, it's probably dry-strippable wallpaper. If it doesn't, it's most likely a nonporous wallpaper such as coated foil, vinyl or acrylic.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Drop cloth
  • Towels (optional)
  • Bucket
  • Putty knife and/or scraping knife
  • 80 to 180 grit sandpaper
  • Sanding block (optional)
  • Perforating tool (optional)
  • Water
  • White vinegar or liquid laundry fabric softener
  • Spray bottle
  • Sponge

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Instructions

    Remove Dry-Strippable Wallpaper

  1. 1

    Place a drop cloth on the floor to catch wallpaper and any moisture. Towels can be placed on top of the drop cloth for added absorbency.

  2. 2

    Pry strips of dry-strippable wallpaper off with a putty knife by gently lifting the edges away from the wall and carefully peeling them off at an angle. Continue this process until all the dry-strippable wallpaper has been removed.

  3. 3

    Remove residue and any pieces of stray wallpaper. Clean the wall with a sponge dipped in a bucket of warm water. Don't use more water than necessary to avoid damaging the wall. Once the wall is dry, it's ready for priming, painting, plaster or different wallpaper.

    Removing Nonporous Wallpaper

  1. 1

    Place a drop cloth on the floor to catch wallpaper and any moisture. Towels can be placed on top of the drop cloth for added absorbency.

  2. 2

    Rough up wallpaper by rubbing the surface with a piece of folded sandpaper or a sanding block or by making slits and scores in the wallpaper with a wallpaper perforating tool.

  3. 3

    Prepare wallpaper adhesive removal solution using one of two recipes. The first recipe consists of equal parts white vinegar and water. The second recipe consists of 75 percent water and 25 percent liquid laundry fabric softener. Mix the solution well.

  4. 4

    Fill a spray bottle with the adhesive removal solution and mist the surface of the wallpaper with the solution until it's soaked but not dripping. Spray one 3-foot wide floor-to-ceiling area at a time. This is a manageable area to soak and strip.

  5. 5

    Remove the soaked wallpaper by carefully scraping it off with a wallpaper scraper or a wide taping knife. Let the wallpaper fall to the floor. Avoid gouging or damaging the drywall while scraping.

  6. 6

    Remove residue and any pieces of stray wallpaper. Clean the wall with a sponge dipped in a bucket of warm water. Don't use more water than necessary to avoid damaging the wall. Once the wall is dry, it's ready for priming, painting, plaster or different wallpaper.

Tips and warnings

  • Instead of a spray bottle, a paint roller and a paint tray can be used. Place adhesive removal solution in the paint tray and dip roller in the tray. Apply the adhesive removal solution to the wall with the roller.

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