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How to Remove Wallpaper Border

Updated on March 21, 2013

Get Old Outdated Border Off Of Your Walls!

removing old wall border can easily help you update a room
removing old wall border can easily help you update a room | Source

Materials and Supplies Needed to Remove Wallpaper Border

When you are ready to remove wall border, you will need the following items:

  1. wallpaper scoring tool (can be found at online or at home improvement or hardware stores for under $5)
  2. liquid fabric softener
  3. spray bottle
  4. sponge or rags
  5. bucket
  6. scraper/putty knife (plastic ones are less likely to scratch your walls)
  7. garbage bag or can
  8. ladder or step stool (needed if the border is on the top part of the wall and hard to reach)

Removing Wallpaper Border

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wallpaper scoring toolmove scoring tool around in circular motions over the wallpaper border but do not press too hardthe border now has small holes in itmix fabric softener and water in a clean spray bottlespray the mixture into the little holes on the wallpaper borderpeel off border with your hands or use a scrapperscrap the wet border off with a putty knifesome border may be difficult to get off and may need to be scrubbed with a wet spongealternating between peeling, scrapping and scrubbing with a sponge will eventually get all the border offplastic coated boarder is harder to remove than paper border, but if you work in small sections, both can easily be removedhere you can see what happens (towards bottom right of photo) if you press too hard with the scoring tool, marks were left on the drywall and will have to be filled with spacklecompleted section next to a section that hasn't been started
wallpaper scoring tool
wallpaper scoring tool | Source
move scoring tool around in circular motions over the wallpaper border but do not press too hard
move scoring tool around in circular motions over the wallpaper border but do not press too hard | Source
the border now has small holes in it
the border now has small holes in it | Source
mix fabric softener and water in a clean spray bottle
mix fabric softener and water in a clean spray bottle | Source
spray the mixture into the little holes on the wallpaper border
spray the mixture into the little holes on the wallpaper border | Source
peel off border with your hands or use a scrapper
peel off border with your hands or use a scrapper | Source
scrap the wet border off with a putty knife
scrap the wet border off with a putty knife | Source
some border may be difficult to get off and may need to be scrubbed with a wet sponge
some border may be difficult to get off and may need to be scrubbed with a wet sponge | Source
alternating between peeling, scrapping and scrubbing with a sponge will eventually get all the border off
alternating between peeling, scrapping and scrubbing with a sponge will eventually get all the border off | Source
plastic coated boarder is harder to remove than paper border, but if you work in small sections, both can easily be removed
plastic coated boarder is harder to remove than paper border, but if you work in small sections, both can easily be removed | Source
here you can see what happens (towards bottom right of photo) if you press too hard with the scoring tool, marks were left on the drywall and will have to be filled with spackle
here you can see what happens (towards bottom right of photo) if you press too hard with the scoring tool, marks were left on the drywall and will have to be filled with spackle | Source
completed section next to a section that hasn't been started
completed section next to a section that hasn't been started | Source

Steps to Remove Wallpaper Border

Work in small sections (about 1-2 feet) and always start where there is a seam. If possible peel as much of the border as you can by hand from one seam to the next before starting the removal process. If the border will not come off by hand at all, then just start with the steps below and once you remove one section, repeat all the steps for the next section.

  1. Use the scoring tool to create little holes in the wallpaper border. Do not press hard on the wall with the tool or you may leave marks on the wall. Move the tool around to create circles that overlap each other.
  2. Prepare a solution of fabric softener and water in a clean spray bottle. I use a 50/50 mix of softener and water, but on paper borders you can use less softener. If the borders are plastic coated or have been on the wall a long time, you may need more softener.
  3. Fill a bucket half full with warm soapy water and place your sponge or rag into the bucket.
  4. Spray the softener water mix into the little holes you created with the scoring tool.
  5. After you spray a section, use a sponge or rag to soak up the liquid that drips down the wall and smear it into the border.
  6. Allow the liquid to soak into the board for at least five to ten minutes and then start peeling. Try to peel first with your hands by grabbing a loose seam or corner. Peel off what you can and spray more liquid onto the additional layers.
  7. Once you have peeled away all that you can with your hands, start using your scrapper/putty knife to remove the rest. Be careful not to damage the wall while scrapping.
  8. After scrapping, use a wet sponge or rag to fully clean the wall before you move onto the next section.
  9. It is also a good idea to put all the border into the garbage bag before moving onto the next section. if wet border is left on the floor it may get stuck to carpeting or flooring as it dries.

Amount of Time It Takes to Remove Wallpaper Border


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Additional Ways to Remove Wallpaper Border or Wallpaper

I have removed both wallpaper and wallpaper borders using the water and fabric softener mixture with great success, however there are other ways you can remove wall borders. Both borders and wallpaper stick to the wall with a glue and that glue must be broken down and removed from the wall prior to repainting or putting up new wallpaper.

The key is getting the liquid to soak into the glue and work on dissolving both the glue and the paper. The wallpaper scoring tool is key to helping moisture to the glue. Sometimes the wallpaper top layer can be ripped off by hand and then the paper/glue layer can be sprayed directly, but most of the time it is not that easy and the scoring tool is needed. Once the paper is scored, it can be sprayed with any of the following mixtures:

  • commercial wallpaper removal solution
  • water and liquid fabric softener
  • warm soapy water (Dawn dish detergent works well)
  • water and vinegar
  • vinegar and liquid fabric softener

You can also apply the liquid mixtures with a paint roller or sponge if you do not want to use the spray bottle method. Whether the mixture is sprayed, rolled or sponged on, they usually need to soak into the paper and the glue for ten to fifteen minutes before scrapping or scrubbing the paper off. You should always work in one to two feet sections and plan on it taking more than twenty minutes per foot of wallpaper border to score, spray, and remove. If you do not want to put in the time to remove wallpaper border, you can pay someone to do it, but the money you save by doing it yourself will mean more money to spend on new d├ęcor for the room.

Patching and Preparing Walls for Painting

What to do After the Wallpaper Border is Removed

Once wallpaper or border is removed, you have the option to paint or apply new wallpaper. There are pros and cons to both and you should think about what is best for your room and your budget. Painting can be cheaper and easier to change, but wallpaper does offer a lot more interest to a space. Vinyl wall stickers and decals are starting to gain popularity, especially in kids' rooms. They allow you to bring visual appeal to a room, but can easily be peeled off without any special tools or materials.

Whether you decide to use wallpaper, paint or vinyl wall decals, after removing wallpaper border, you will need to clean the wall and patch and repair the wall before redecorating. The video above shows how to do simple patching and repairing and many home improvement stores also offer free workshops on spackling, painting and hanging wallpaper. Although removing wallpaper border takes a while, you will likely be glad you invested the time to remove the border and give your room a new look.

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    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have some wallpaper in my bedroom that I plan on removing soon and will try your method. Thanks for sharing!

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 4 years ago from UK

      I'll have a couple of weeks off work soon and there are a few DIY jobs to do - this could come in useful!

    • chrissieklinger profile image
      Author

      chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Removing wallpaper is not fun but this method works and when its all done you will be so happy!

    • chrissieklinger profile image
      Author

      chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I have been working on removing the bathroom border whenever a have a few hours here and there and I really wish I had a week to just get it done. Pinterest is a great place to get DIY ideas when you are ready to do some projects :)

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Same as Chrissie - I've got what's left of a order in the tub area to get rid of. Just what I needed!

    • chrissieklinger profile image
      Author

      chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I need a young, strong and tall teenager to come get all the border off, it kills your arms! Maybe a project for your grandkids if they get bored over the summer???????

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      My sister needs to read this, she has a few rooms she wants to re-do the wallpaper. I'll send it to her. Great tips, thanks. (I don't have papered walls!)

      Voting and sharing.

    • Robie Benve profile image

      Robie Benve 4 years ago from Ohio

      Reading this reminded me of how ugly the border in my powder room must look to guests... sometimes you get so used to things you see everyday that you forget the first impression.

      May have to try this soon, thanks! :)

    • chrissieklinger profile image
      Author

      chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      She better clear her schedule, it takes awhile but if she can get a few people to help it is much better!

    • chrissieklinger profile image
      Author

      chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      HAHA! Robie, the border I removed has been there since we bought the house but then after spending so long removing it I looked at the kitchen border ( I put in) and thought.....hmmmm, maybe I just need to be done with border all together! It was really popular at one time but I think painting techniques are more popular now.

    • chrissieklinger profile image
      Author

      chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I am so glad to hear you found this easier method. Hairdryer method sounds like a pain in the butt anyway. Another nice thing about the fabric softener is that the whole room smells so nice while you are doing it :)

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      In our previous house the people that we bought it from had put up a border in their baby's room, but they did not use anything we could remove, even with these tricks. To this day I think they used superglue. We ended up having to paint over it and prime and then paint the wall. This is one of my least favorite things to do, but your hub is helpful if I ever need to again.

    • chrissieklinger profile image
      Author

      chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Some people do use things they shouldn't to hang border and wallpaper. My bathroom border has been the hardest to remove out of all the border I have dealt with. Our one house had a whole room wallpapered and it came off super easy and then this bathroom border I have been working on is taking forever. It is coming off but in small sections. Other borders I dealt with came off in larger sections. I have seen some houses where they have layers of wallpaper and paint and people just put up all new drywall. I really have no interest to put any more border in my house, I am all for painting to add interest!

    • RHeat profile image

      Rob Heat 2 years ago from FL

      Very Helpful. Thanks for the article

    • profile image

      Simon Iseppi 9 months ago

      I have to be honest but consulting an expert and making them do it is much better than doing it alone (not unless you are used on doing it). It is because of the nature of the job that must be executed accordingly. You can either choose between Sears, K-Mart, Lowe's, Wakefield Painting Systems, K-mart and a lot more.

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