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zephyr826's avatar

Do you have any tricks for removing wallpaper?

Asked by zephyr826 (5600points) May 20th, 2010

My husband and I moved into our house in December, and almost all of our initial projects are done, except one. We have not been able to paint our bedroom, because there is a wallpaper border around the top of the walls that simply refuses to come off. All other wallpaper in the house came off really easily, but this won’t budge. I’ve tried a solution of vinegar and water. I’ve tried scoring it and spraying the nasty blue gel. I’ve used water as hot as I could stand. I even tried a hand-held steamer. Nothing has worked. Okay, a little of it has come off but it’s taken an hour for a five-inch section. There has to be a better way. For all of you DIY-ers out there, I need your help. We’ll try (almost) anything.

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21 Answers

marinelife's avatar

By nasty blue gel, did you mean fabric softener? I have seen fabric softener and water applied after scoring work well.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I scored it and used ammonia and warm water….better keep a window open and wear a mask.

zephyr826's avatar

@marinelife The blue gel is an official hardare-store-approved wallpaper remover.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Ugh, I hate wallpaper. What a pain in the butt. Alright, you say the hand held steamer isn’t working.. that would have been my first suggestion. This is going to sound crazy.. but try “Spic n Span” cleaner. Mix it with hot water. We used it on our most stubborn wallpaper, and it worked like magic. Maybe it will work for you, too?

dpworkin's avatar

Someone may have used the wrong sort of glue.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I forgot to specify that we bought the Spic & Span concentrate and mixed THAT with water. Not the premixed cleaner.

Cupcake's avatar

I used fabric softener in my house. The wallpaper came off of three walls but would not budge from the fourth. I ended up just painting over it.

Sorry you’re having such a hard time. I would tend to agree with @dpworkin here… if you’ve tried all those things, I think it’s unlikely that there is a product out there that will do it easily.

What about an electric sander? Could you sand it down/off enough to paint over?

zephyr826's avatar

I’ll have to try the Spic & Span and the fabric softener before I admit defeat, but I suppose we could just sand it off.

Cupcake's avatar

P.S. I had to switch to dryer sheets for a few years because the smell of fabric softener made me gag for a long time.

majorrich's avatar

At our last house we had the same trouble as @Cupcake and ended up putting up sizing and painting. The sizing smoothed out the plaster, and covered up the pattern from the old paper. We tried priming over the old paper, but that didn’t seem to work very well.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. Wallpaper removal is a messy job no matter how you do it. But if you want to get rid of old wallpaper, you really have no choice but to strip it. While it may be a bit of a hassle, it’s well worth the effort when the result is a fresh new wall to decorate.

Stripping the paper off the walls is probably the toughest part of wallpaper removal but the most important part is dissolving the paste. After the paper has been removed, the paste will be left behind causing new paint finishes to crack and may cause new wallpaper to peel.

What type of wallpaper is it? What type of wall is it on? Those are things that can make a difference how easy it is or what you can do to remove the paper, get rid of the left over paste and not jack up the wall. It it is vinyl it will behave differently than paper. If it is on naked drywall it will be different to deal with than if over paint. Hard to say how to handle your’s not knowing what type of paper or the type of wall it is on. :-) One size don’t fit all here

MissA's avatar

Peel off as much as you can, soak it with cleaner/softener. Keep repeating. I believe that it will come off by repeating this process. Let it dry completely, then sand. Repeat the soaking through. I think they might have used the wrong glue, as stated above.

Is it possible to search for the old owner and simply ask? I agree with Hypocrisy…you can’t just paint over it. Eventually, you’ll wish you had.

zephyr826's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central @MissA I think it’s vinyl, but I’m not sure – I’ve never put up paper myself. There is paint under it – the small portion I got off was over what appeared to be semi-gloss. I can’t ask the previous owners – we bought the house from a bank.

blueknight73's avatar

try tool sold at lowes or home depot called a paper tiger. it works well with and only cost about 10 bucks

anartist's avatar

This one has a different adhesive—probably a modern version of rubber cement—not a wallpaper paste.
Get a can of Bestine and if possible a small applicator can with a long controllable nozzle [and a funnel that will fit down it]—these last two are rare as hen’s teeth but you can still get Bestine. That should do it. If not, try acetone.

SamIAm's avatar

go to your local Home Depot or hardware store… they make a blue spray gel kinda thing and along with a flat scrapper, it comes off fairly easily

Jelly's avatar

Try not to get sharp or pointy wall removers, they tend to scratch or possibly ruin the drywall beyond the wall paper.

perspicacious's avatar

Use wallpaper remover. The first thing you have to do is strip the vinyl outer layer off. Once the inside paper layer is exposed, hot water will usually loosen it enough to scrape off. If it doesn’t, use the wallpaper remover. After you get all of the paper off, be sure to wash, wash wash as many times as you must to get all of the paste off. If you don’t, in time, it will crack ruining your paint job. Good luck.

Response moderated
zephyr826's avatar

@perspicacious @blueknight73 @Samantha_Rae I’m sorry that I wasn’t more specific in the original question. I’ve used the paper tiger, the official wallpaper remover (that was the blue gel), and a scraper (both plastic and metal). None of which have made any difference.
@anartist Is Bestine something they sell at hardware stores? And acetone like nail-polish remover?

anartist's avatar

@zephyr826 yes and yes. Acetone is like polish remover without the additives [scent, aloe, etc] and Bestine [rubber cement thinner made by BestTest] is usually sold in hardware stores as is acetone. Bestine can also be found in arts & crafts stores and some office supply stores.

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