Removing wallpaper-help!

kzarina17July 12, 2005


Is there any way humanly possible to remove wallpaper from drywall? Our entire addition (kithcen, bath, bedroom hallway) is wallpapered and it just won't come down.

The PO put up the paper, badly I might add, without priming the walls. I can tear off the top coat, but the paper backing is left behind.

The paper came off our plastered walls great, it's the drywall that I am having a hard time with.

Any ideas?



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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting
    Bookmark   July 12, 2005 at 7:54AM
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I had similar problems two years ago when I redecorated my kitchen. The former owners had built soffits for their new cabinets and then applied the wallpaper directly to the raw particleboard or MDF or whatever the heck it was. They didn't even paint, much less size.

I used a broad, flat putty knife and a spray bottle of hot water. And sometimes my fingernails.

It was difficult, but I managed.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2005 at 8:01AM
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This is how wallpaper gets it's bad rep. People who do not take the time to properly prepare the walls. I'd like to take everyone of them out and shoot them on general principal.
Sorry your going thru this. I've had it happen to me in another house. It was a HUGE MESS! We never could get the walls to look right HOWEVER I discovered that certain paint a good ragging or sponging can hide a multidue of sins.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2005 at 8:19AM
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Also, I've used water with vinegar (3:1), spray or sponge it on, let it sit about 10 minutes, then scrape with a wide putty knife. Still a lot of work, but it helped a bunch.

I've read about using fabric softener, straight on the wall. Let it sit a bit. People swear by this, but I haven't tried it yet.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2005 at 9:19PM
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1. Buy a device that you roll over the wallpaper that perforates the paper (I think it's called a "Paper Tiger" and it costs $10). You can also score the paper with a carpenter's handsaw by holding the teeth against the wallpaper and sweeping it down the wall a few times (the idea is to break through the surface and even do a little shredding, but not damage the sheetrock; it's actually pretty easy to do). This allows water to penetrate, which takes us to step 2.
2. You use a sponge to apply warm water with a little soap in it to the wall.
3. You run an old iron over the wet paper to produce steam and loosen up the wallpaper paste; then you start scraping it off with something like a 6" drywall knife. Alternatively, you can rent a wallpaper steamer, which does the same thing as the sponge/iron routine, but more efficiently.

This is obviously a messy process, so protect the floors. Expect that you'll make a few dings in the sheetrock, but these can be easily fixed with spackling later.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2005 at 3:58AM
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Well, after posting I gave this wallpaper one more try. I scored it with the paper tiger and soaked it with a mixture of TSP and water and guess what?

It's working!!

The hallway is almost finished and the wall damage is minimal. I can't wait to finally paint this mess, it's been like this for 2 years.

Thanks everyone!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2005 at 7:08AM
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Congratulations. It's nice to hear when advice produces a good outcome.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2005 at 2:45AM
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Kzarina17, thanks so much for your TSP tip.
You have save the day! I had wallpaper on sheet rock.
Lord, what a job. I had tried all methods, nothing
worked. Was damaging the sheet rock. I was just going
to paint over it when I saw your tip. I had TSP on hand,
a great product, not cheap but worth it! I use it on my
siding, patio furniture but had not thought about wallpaper.
I found it easier to rip off first layer, not that hard, it's the backing that's hell. I used a scott towel so I could control the wetness better. Just get it slightly damp,wait a minute or so and it started coming off in long
strips instead of an inch at a time! No damage to walls!!
Use a drop cloth just in cast you spill some on wood or
rugs. You can find TSP at Lowes, etc. Also, I did not
use a scraper, I got it started with my nails. Let it
dry completely before you paint or anything.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 3:20PM
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"You can find TSP at Lowes, etc."

TSP is not available in some areas with phosphorous detergent rules.

The substitutes are not nearly as good (sodium metasilicate instead of tri-sodium phosphate)

    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 5:00PM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

Try this,it works better and is cheaper than TST

Here is a link that might be useful: removal solution

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 5:29AM
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My daughter and I recently removed all the paper from her "old" new home. They bought one of those Sears catalog homes that was built in 1940. We used cheap liquid fabric softner. We mixed a couple of cups in a gallon bucket of warm water, sprayed it on the walls and then let it sit for a few minutes. It worked great. When we came upon a section that was still stuck, we just sprayed and left it on a couple of minutes and it pulled right off. Her house smelled great too.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 6:51PM
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I figured it out, finally! After battling the old wallpaper in our home, I finally got it right. Let me start off by saying that the wallpaper in out home is of high quality and very heavy duty. In other words, this wallpaper was put up to stay for a long time. I tried spraying on DIF solution, but it did not penetrate the stubborn "vinyl-like" wallpaper. I then tried scoring the walls with a "paper tiger" tool which puts thousands of tiny, tiny holes in the paper so that the DIF can penetrate to the glue beneath the wallpaper. This was not only time consuming, but messy and ineffective. For the solution to penetrate, you need to score the wallpaper a zillion times and you still don't get a "clean" strip off.
Finally, I pulled out my "Shark" handheld steamer, (which to me was only good for steaming wrinkles out of my blazers). BINGO! Start by steaming the wallpaper from the wall near the ceiling. Once you get a corner loose, it's all down hill. Work in manageable sections (about 18" or so). As you pull down on the wallpaper, keep the steamer against the wall and directly under the flap of wallpaper that you are holding. If you have two people, this will go so much easier and quicker. Slowly move the steamer side to side and pull down evenly on the wallpaper. The steam rises and collects in the crux of where the wallpaper is still contacting the wall. Be sure to keep adjusting your hold on the wallpaper so that you are pulling about six inches from the wall..... this gives an even amount of pull, yet won't let the steam burn you. This worked FANTASTIC! You will have some glue left over, but if you spray some DIF on and let it sit for a few minutes, then sponge off with some clean hot water, you have a clean wall. I definitely got my moneys worth from this Shark machine now.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 6:25PM
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Wow, thanks for posting that about the Shark! I would never have thought of using it. I'm going to have to ask my sister-in-law to borrow hers.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 7:07PM
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Also needing help here. Products used (in this order) DIF (mixed per instructions), 66% white vinegar/ 33% water solution, Goo-Gone (lord help me), and now back to DIF at double strength. 3 out of 4 walls came off easy-peasy on first try. 4th wall looks like a wild animal attacked it. The first layer of paper came off, leaving the khaki colored 2nd layer on the wall. On 3 walls, this 2nd layer came off, no sweat, fun actually. On the 4th wall, I have tried everything to get it off, and I still have lots and lots of paste on the wall. Why would one wall be so much worse than the other 3? Well, I am thinking that two people must have worked on this room; one who knew what they were doing, and one who did not. So, lets consider this a wallpapering mishap. Now, how do I get this stuff off, 20 years after the fact? I have about 20 HOURS into this one wall, and all that they had up there was a dang border! I am about to lose it!

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 4:48PM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

Here is a link that might be useful: safe and simple

    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 4:45AM
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Can't help you with the wallpaper, can't and won't deal with it, long story, but I notice you posted a query inside a very old thread. Seeing you are a new member as am I, have learned to get the best answers start your own new thread and post it in a other categories such as renovations.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 11:23AM
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