How to Remove Wallpaper

The first step in removing wallpaper is to apply an agent that dissolves the glue. You can purchase a commercial wallpaper stripper, or you can use an ingredient from your pantry.

A vinegar solution works well, explains Cecil Snider, an expert on painting and wallpaper. He suggests pouring the solution into a spray bottle and climbing a ladder to spray a corner seam.


Wallpaper can add a great deal of interest to any room, but it’s important to be mindful of your design style and make sure the wallpaper you choose fits your taste. If you have old wallpaper hanging around the house that isn’t fitting your aesthetic any more, or even just needs a fresh coat of paint, it’s easy to remove it on your own without a professional.

Whether the wallpaper is peelable, strippable or vinyl, there are certain steps you need to take to make sure it comes off with ease and leaves your walls looking clean and refreshed.

Start by clearing the area where you’ll be working. Move furniture to a safe location and cover floors and baseboards with drop cloths. Remove any artwork or mirrors from the wall, as well as switch plates and outlet covers.

Next, use a wallpaper scoring tool to perforate the surface of the paper and adhesive layer. This will allow your removal solution to soak in more effectively. You’ll also want to place any decorations or furnishings away from the walls so you don’t risk ripping or damaging them with your tools.


If you’re lucky, the wallpaper might come down completely with just a little effort. But in most cases, you’ll need to use a stripping process that involves scoring the paper and then spraying it with a water or liquid stripper to loosen the glue. This is a messy job, so prepare by covering your floor with plastic painter’s tarp and taping down the power outlets.

Before you start, test a small area of the wall with your solution to make sure it’s safe for the surface of your drywall. After you’ve done a spot test, saturate the wall with your wallpaper stripper solution of choice and let it sit for a few minutes to allow it to work.

Next, using a putty knife or scraper, score the wallpaper with your blade where it meets the wall. This makes the paper perforate and allows the stripper to penetrate through the wallpaper and into the wall, soaking up the adhesive. You can also cut a few holes with your screwdriver, but you’ll need to use a metal putty knife that can hold up to the chemicals.

If you’re not ready to invest in a wallpaper stripping solution, consider this DIY technique, which uses a mixture of laundry detergent and water. It works but can take a little more time than a steamer, so be patient and follow the instructions carefully!


If your walls have old wallpaper that simply will not budge, don’t give up. There are a few methods that can help you get it off your walls so you can redecorate with new wallpaper or paint. Before you get started, however, be sure to protect floors and baseboards by covering them with plastic sheets or drop cloths. Also make sure to turn off all electrical outlets and switch plates so you don’t accidentally get shocked or electrocute yourself.

One way to remove wallpaper that won’t budge is by using a water and detergent mixture. This method is simple and uses ingredients you probably already have at home. Mix equal parts of water and liquid fabric softener together in a spray bottle or sponge and apply it to the wall. Let it sit for 15 minutes or more, then scrape the wallpaper off with a putty knife.

Another way to remove wallpaper is by using a commercially available stripping solution. Basically, you’ll score the wallpaper with a tool such as Zinsser’s PaperTiger to create perforations that will allow your stripping solution to penetrate and loosen the glue behind it. Next, you’ll use a pump sprayer or sponge to apply the solution over the wallpaper. It’s recommended that you use warm water, since it helps the solution seep into the perforations.


If your wallpaper comes up easily and without much scraping, that’s a good sign—though it may not happen on every wall. If you’re not so lucky, it’s time to get out the steamer.

You can rent these tools at most tool rental stores, or find one at a home improvement store. Alternatively, you can heat the wallpaper with a heat gun, being careful not to scorch or damage the drywall underneath.

Regardless of the method you choose, first prepare your workspace by covering the floor and any nearby furniture with plastic. Tape off outlets and switch plates, as well, to avoid damaging them later on. Then, use a wallpaper scorer to create small holes in the paper. This will allow your solution to soak in more quickly and will make the paper and glue easier to remove. If you’re using a commercial wallpaper stripping solution, apply the solution according to the manufacturer’s instructions and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.