Wallpaper styles have changed dramatically over the years and your walls can quickly look outdated if they are covered with wallpaper. Many people do not like the look of wallpaper, but it can be difficult to remove if you don’t go about it the right way. There are several methods for stripping wallpaper and the one you use will depend on the type of wall surface and wallpaper that was applied.
The walls should be prepped before you start trying to remove wallpaper. Take down any pictures, wall hangings, and nails from the walls’ surfaces. Remove small items from the room and pull furniture away from the wall. Lay down drop cloths to catch any debris falling to the floor and to keep your carpet or floors dry.
Check Wall Surface
If you have a newer home built within the last 50 years, the walls should be drywall. Older homes, such as those 50 years or older, will usually have plaster walls. The easy way to check is to knock on the walls. If you hear a hollow sound, it is drywall. Plaster walls are more solid, so there will be a dull sound when you knock on them.
Check Wallpaper Type
Newer wallpaper is capable of being stripped or peeled, which makes it easier to remove. If you know the walls were papered within the past few years, then it should be one of these two types. To check, use a putty knife and start at the bottom while prying the seam or corner from the wall. If the paper easily pulls away, then it’s strippable wallpaper and you can continue stripping it from the wall one section at a time.
The peelable wallpaper has a removable vinyl covering that should easily come off. However, it will leave behind a paper backing, which can be removed using the technique below for stripping off regular and textured wallpapers. If it isn’t able to be stripped or peeled, then you have regular wallpaper.
Mix Liquid Stripper
The easy way to remove wallpaper that is not able to be stripped is to buy a chemical stripper and mix it with hot water as directed on the label. Wear gloves and a face mask to keep the mixture from irritating your skin and prevent your breathing it in. Take a paint brush or sprayer and wet down one wall at a time. Allow 10 to 20 minutes for the water to soak through the paper.
For textured and washable wallpapers, score the surface before applying the liquid stripper so it can penetrate the paper. Then, using a scraper, start at the top corner gently scrape and peel the paper off one section at a time. Don’t score or scrape too deeply on drywall as it can remove the paper cover from its surface.
Do one room at a time and allow an entire day for an average-sized room. This is the easiest technique for cleanly stripping wallpaper from plaster or drywall surfaces. Once you’ve stripped the entire room, allow it to completely dry before wallpapering or painting the walls.