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The Best Way to Strip Wallpaper

Updated February 21, 2017

Wallpaper is used to decorate walls instead of using paint. This paper material is attached to walls through an adhesive, and is available in a wide variety of styles. While wallpaper can last many years, if you decide to replace a current wallpaper design or completely rid your home of wallpaper, you'll need to safely remove the paper from the wall, which is also called stripping the paper. You do not need to be a professional handyman to strip wallpaper from your home.

Remove all wall outlet and light switch covers, and move the furniture to the centre of the room -- away from the walls. Drape a bedsheet or a dust sheet where the wall meets the floor to protect the flooring from wallpaper residue.

Purchase a wallpaper piercing tool, which is available at any home improvement store. This handheld tool features small spiked wheels that puncture holes into the wallpaper, but without damaging the drywall underneath. Puncturing the wallpaper is vital to introduce moisture to the wallpaper glue. You may use a box cutter; however, this carries the potential of piercing the drywall.

Mix six ounces of warm water with three ounces of white distilled vinegar into a bucket. Place latex cleaning gloves over your hands, and dip a sponge into the solution.

Liberally apply the water and vinegar solution directly on the wallpaper. Apply two coats of the solution onto the wallpaper, and allow the solution to rest for 30 to 45 minutes before applying two more coats of the solution. You may need to reheat the solution as the water must be warm upon application. Reheat in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds.

Locate the edge or seam of the wallpaper, and slowly begin to peel the paper away. In some cases, the wallpaper will peel off without tearing; however, if the paper rips or is not easily removed, wet the area with the solution and use a putty knife to gently scrape the paper away. Continue until the entire wall is paper free.

Remove residual wallpaper glue from the wall surface by mixing one cup of trisodium phosphate, or TSP, with two cups of warm water. Dip a sponge into the solution, and liberally wash the walls to strip any remaining glue. Rinse the wall with cold water to remove glue and TSP traces. Now you have a clean wall ready for painting or a new wallpaper installation.

Tip

If you find the water and vinegar solution does not work on your wallpaper, purchase a wallpaper solution from your local home repair store.

Warning

Do not apply excessive pressure with the wallpaper piercing tool, as this will damage the underlying wall, which may require patching if you plan to paint instead of re-wallpapering.

Things You'll Need

  • Bedsheet
  • Wallpaper piercing tool (or box cutter)
  • 177ml warm water
  • 85.1gr white distilled vinegar
  • Bucket
  • Latex gloves
  • Sponge
  • Microwave safe bowl
  • Putty knife
  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP)
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About the Author

Jonathan McLelland has been a professional writer since 2005. He has worked as a story writer and editor for the international sitcom, “Completing Kaden,” as well as a proposal writer for various production companies. McLelland studied communication and theater at St. Louis Community College.