For a faster, more profitable home sale
Removing wallpaper is not a fun job. In fact, it's right up there at the top of my "most dreaded chores" list.
Wallpaper may come off in big lovely strips or in little pieces that need to be painfully scraped or steamed off, bit by bit.
If you're prepping your house for sale and every room is a papered calamity, be prepared to see home buyers walk away.
Very few buyers want to tackle a job like this-- most just want a move-in ready home. Not only will some people walk away, a wallpapered disaster may lower the value of your home.
A serious buyer will add the project to a list of other negatives to negotiate the price of your home down.
In my experience, wallpaper rarely comes off easy. In addition, if the walls were not primed before the wallpaper went up, removing it will most likely be more difficult.
If you do decide to tackle this job yourself, be sure you know how to properly remove the wallpaper so you don't damage the underlying walls.
If you have an older home with lath and plaster walls, removing any wallpaper will most likely take down much of the old plaster, causing a horrible mess and requiring re-plastering or replacing with drywall.
Most often you'll discover more than one layer of wallpaper in an older home and ancient wiring that needs replacing. I once peeled my way through 4 different wall papers in a 100 year-old house!
Some people recommend painting over wallpaper if it’s in good condition, but I think this is a big mistake.
From a distance it may look okay, but close up it just looks like painted wallpaper. Plus, the paint will make it even harder to remove the wallpaper in the future.
I don’t recommended papering over old wallpaper either, as often the glue won’t stick, especially if the underlying wallpaper is textured, foiled or vinyl.
Wallpaper borders are another dated home decor feature that you may want to remove before selling your house. Follow the same procedure as for removing wallpaper.
There are at least three different methods for stripping wallpaper.
1. The most commonly-used method requires a stripping solution, a scoring tool and a paint scraper. You can purchase a commercial stripper or make your own from common household products.
2. Another method requires the use of a wallpaper steamer, a stripping product and a scraper. If you have a lot of wallpaper to remove, I highly recommend this method.
3. The third method requires a blow dryer to heat up the underlying wallpaper glue, until it can be pulled or scraped away from the wall.
Tools you will need:
The Zinsser 2966 Papertiger Scoring Tool can be found at any home improvement store.
You can purchase commercial wallpaper removal solutions in the same aisle, but I have found that fabric softener and hot water will work, as well.
Watch the video demonstration below by Ron Hazelton on how to remove wallpaper quickly and easily.
In this video, the demonstrator uses a sprayer, which is handy if you have a lot of wallpaper to remove.
You will Need:
When all else fails, go out and rent a wallpaper steamer. You can rent one by the day from any home improvement store.
Depending on the size of the steamer, this can often be a two-person job, as you must steam and strip at the same time.
I've had to use the wallpaper steamer method twice. It was a lot of work, as they were oversized steamers, much too heavy for me. I recommend that you find a good friend to help.
If you have a houseful of wallpaper that needs to come down, it might be worth buying your own steamer. Look for affordable steamers at Amazon.com.
You will need:
Apply some heat:
Starting in a corner at the bottom, apply heat to the wallpaper with the blow dryer. As the heat begins to melt the wallpaper glue, try peeling up one corner with your fingers. Place the scraper under the wallpaper to loosen as you go.
Continue this process of heating and peeling until the entire strip is removed. If you find wallpaper glue residue that has been left behind, you can remove the adhesive with some warm water and a gentle scrubbing pad or soft nylon brush.
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Last updated 12-3-2022