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How to Easily Remove Wallpaper

Updated on February 3, 2016

Removing Wallpaper the Easy Way

So, it is that time, time to tear down old wallpaper that has probably been there for 20 years. I have been stuck doing this many times and every time, I want to hunt down the person that invented wallpaper and kick their butt! There is not many things that drive me as crazy as peeling wallpaper off of the walls just to leave the backing glued solid all over the place. I have scraped with a putty knife, used hot water, soap, etc and it takes forever! If you have been through this, I bet you know where Iâm coming from.

So today, we are going to go over a couple ways on how to remove wallpaper that I have found to help tremendously and might have even saved me from going insane.

Image credit: atravellingmom, Alan Bruce and Robin Zebrowski

How to remove wallpaper
How to remove wallpaper

Tools to Remove Wallpaper

There are several options available to you when you are trying to remove wallpaper. A great way to do this is to buy wallpaper removal tools to make your work easier. A cheap option would be the Zinsser 2976 PaperTiger or other scoring Tool ( I have the 2976). This paper removal tool usually retails under $20. It works by scoring the wall around a room making it a little easier to remover wallpaper. This tool is also easy to work with; you do not need to worry about not understanding the instructions. This was my first purchase when I deciding how I would remove wallpaper from our master bathroom. The con of this item is that it will still leave some white backing on the walls. But it is much better that using nothing at all. If you do not want to spend more or just have a small room and want a cheap wallpaper remover tool, this will work. If you have a larger room or plan on removing it from other rooms in the future, I would not suggest it.

If you can afford a little more, another option is using a wallpaper steamer. A wallpaper steamer works well in stripping off the wallpaper without leaving the old backing stuck on the wall. A wallpaper steamer comes in handy when you want to stop using wallpaper on the walls of your home. By using a steamer, you will have an easier option when it comes to cleaning your walls since it will heat and moisten everything up and gets all (or at least most) of the glue off the walls. A good product that you can buy to steam the wallpaper off your walls is the Wagner Power Products 282018 1-Gallon Wallpaper Steamer which is the one I have. Amazon has many other options but it works for me and is priced fair at a little under $50. You can choose to use the steamer together with the scoring tool for quicker results. The smaller the pieces, the easier it is.

What to Use with the Tools

To make things even easier, I combine other implements when trying to take off the wallpaper. The great advantage of using a wallpaper steamer is that you do not need extra implements. The hot steam will work wonders in loosening the wallpaper adhesive. Your only work will be to peel off the wallpaper. To avoid damaging your wall, do not use too much heat! I almost did that my first time I used my steamer. You want to heat the wallpaper enough to loosen the glue but not enough to damage the drywall. You will also need to make sure that the steam does not damage your floor or any furniture in the room (steam=dripping water).

When you are using a wallpaper scoring tool, you have two options. First, you may decide to use the wallpaper steamer together with the scoring tool. This means that you will run the steaming tool over the wallpaper, then scrape out the loosened wallpaper. The second option is using stripping solution or degreaser. You will have to soak the wallpaper in the stripping solution before you start using the wallpaper scoring tool. There are different commercially available stripping solution brands that you can purchase at your local hardware store or even online. Make sure that you let the wallpaper soak in the stripping solution before you start scraping it off. I also put old towels down and do one section at a time. Though degreasers work well breaking the glue backing up, you do not want to get it on your floor.

Environmental and Health Concerns

Using a wallpaper steamer saves you money and headache in the end. You will not need to buy extra stuff like a stripping solution or degreasers when removing the wallpaper. When using a wallpaper scoring tool, you will have to buy some stripping solution to make your work easier. If you are environmentally or health conscious, you should be aware that most commercially available stripping solutions are loaded with industrial chemicals. It is usually flammable and has strong fumes.

Removing Wallpaper
Removing Wallpaper

How to Remove Wallpaper Using Home Remedies

If you would rather make your own degreaser, you can choose to make your own stripping solution. A simple home remedy that I have made for wallpaper stripping solution is using vinegar. Mix some vinegar with water at the ratio of 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar. You can use a higher concentration of vinegar if you wish. However, do not use too much vinegar. Soak the wallpaper with this solution for about 10 to 15 minutes. Proceed to use the wallpaper scoring tool on the now loosened wallpaper. Though it doesn't work as well as something you would buy, I have had pretty good luck using this mixture.

Another option that I found is using a fabric softener as a home remedy alternative to the commercially available stripping solution. Fabric softener weakens the wallpaper adhesive. The main benefit of using a fabric softener to remove wallpaper is that you avoid all the chemicals in most commercially available wallpaper stripping solutions. Fabric softener is also a cheaper option to the sometimes overpriced wallpaper stripping solutions. This is ideal if you are going to remove wallpaper from a large surface. For best solutions, use the fabric softener together with some hot water. Mix the two solutions at the ratio of 2 parts water and one paper fabric softener. Since I found this home remedy, it is all I used until purchasing my steamer.


After trying all the above products, I settled on a steamer and that is all I use now. Not only don’t you need to buy a stripping solution, you also get to remove wallpaper in the most convenient way. I would personally recommend that you use a wallpaper steamer if you can afford it. While most of them are pricier compared to a scoring tool, the price is worth it in the end. It will make your work much easier using a wallpaper steamer compared to using a scoring tool. All you need to do is to run the steamer and peel off the wallpaper slowly.

If you do not want to spend the money on a wallpaper steamer, a scoring tool will still make you job easier than using nothing at all. The wallpaper scoring tool is cheaper but you will most likely will need a degreaser. Moreover, if you have concerns over the contents of stripping solutions, you can use the home remedies mentioned in this article. I would recommend the vinegar option for those who are trying to completely cut out the amount of chemicals that they use in their daily lives. When using the scoring tool, do not be too rough when running it through the wallpaper. Make sure that you wash off any wallpaper residue after using the scoring tool.

Anyway you go, I will say that using any tool is better than none at all. Like I said in the beginning, I truly hated it when my wife would start talking about removing a rooms wallpaper and want to paint. Now it is not so bad, taking your time, I know you will be fine. I hope that this Lens helps you from going insane and showed you better ways on how to remove wallpaper.

Share your home remedies. Do you actually enjoy removing wallpaper? Please share!

How do You Remove Wallpaper?

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    • Vincent Fleming profile image

      Vincent Fleming 3 years ago from Indiana

      @blestman lm: I know how you feel but would never paint over it. You would be asking for issues. Follow the above steps and start removing wallpaper the easy way. You will be surprised.

    • blestman lm profile image

      blestman lm 3 years ago

      time has always been an issue with me. I felt like it would be easier to just paint over everything. It looks like you have an alternative

    • Vincent Fleming profile image

      Vincent Fleming 3 years ago from Indiana

      @amycorp: Yes, I hate taking down wallpaper. If I only knew this stuff 10 years ago lol Thanks for stopping by!

    • profile image

      amycorp 3 years ago

      Love the lens. Years ago I helped a friend remove wallpaper from a house she bought. What a pain! It sounds like it doesn't have to be that hard. Thanks!

    • Vincent Fleming profile image

      Vincent Fleming 3 years ago from Indiana

      @silla lm: Good luck, follow the instructions here and it will help you a lot. I hate wallpaper! lol

    • silla lm profile image

      silla lm 3 years ago

      Thanks for this. Wallpaper comes in some beautiful patterns these days, but silverfish freak me out so it has to go!

    • Vincent Fleming profile image

      Vincent Fleming 3 years ago from Indiana

      @esmonaco: lol, yes it is a pain. Thanks!

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      I've done it many times and hope I never have to do it again Great job here Thanks

    • wogadget profile image

      wogadget 4 years ago

      These ideas have helped me to remove my 10 year old wallpaper without having to re-paint the wall. Thanks a bunch!

    • Vincent Fleming profile image

      Vincent Fleming 4 years ago from Indiana

      @glassgaragedoors: Yea, soapy water works but I didn't mention it because it takes a long time and I don't waste my time with it anymore.

    • profile image

      glassgaragedoors 4 years ago

      I am looking to remove my wallpaper in my living room it's been 18 years and time for a change, the only thing anyone told me was to rub soapy water on the paper let it soak in and then it peels right off but this is a much more detailed and helpful answer, thanks!