Water usually does it. They make a solution of "DIF" at hardware store that helps sometimes. Hopefully the top layer will peel off. If not then sometimes you have to score it to allow water to penetrate
From my experience, there is no one "best" way to remove wallpaper. It's often a matter of trial and error since what works on one wallpapered area doesn't necessarily work for all wallpapered areas. You just have to experiment because there are so many varying factors like the age of the wallpaper, the thickness of the paper, what type of wall it has been adhered to (wallboard or plaster), etc. Sometimes I have good luck just using some fabric softener mixed with very hot water and sometimes I don't. Sometimes wallpaper removers like DIF have worked and sometimes they haven't. There have been times when I have had to resort to using a wallpaper steamer. On two occasions I couldn't get the wallpaper off with any method so I had to admit defeat and paint over it.
I am wanting to remove the wallpaper from my bathroom. I have only lived here 2 years, but I am pretty sure this wall paper has been up for a while. It is starting to peel in a couple of places and it doesn't seem real thick, but not super thin either. I would say average thickness, guessing 10 years old and it is on a plaster wall that has not been primed. Any Suggestions for this mess before I get started. haha :)
@Cami Baker When you are ready to get started, grab the paper where it is starting to peel and pull. Usually there is a top (decorative) layer and a paper backing. If it is already loose, the top layer should come off fairly easily (hopefully), leaving you with just the paper backing. You can use a putty knife to gently pry up the corners of any sections that are more firmly attached.
To remove the paper backing, I would start by mixing some laundry fabric softener with HOT water in a spray bottle. Saturate the paper and let it sit for a few minutes to soften the paper and adhesive and then try scraping with a putty knife, being careful not to gouge your plaster walls. Heat and moisture is what helps dissolve the adhesive so in most cases, the wetter you keep the paper, the easier it will be to remove it.
Jeffrey Whitmer mentioned scoring the paper. Scoring is done with a "paper tiger." It's an inexpensive hand-held tool that has little "teeth" that leave holes in the paper when you swirl it over the paper in a circular motion. The little holes allow water, steam or the chemicals to penetrate any areas where the top layer could not be removed. But again, you have to be careful not to push too hard with the paper tiger or it can damage your walls.
If the fabric softener and hot water doesn't work, then you may want to try a chemical wallpaper remover like DIF. Or, if you can borrow a wallpaper steamer from a friend or relative, the steamer can make the process go a whole lot easier too, but a basic model isn't really very expensive. I think I bought mine for around $50 at Lowes. As you remove the paper, it is helpful to also have a big sponge or rag and a bucket of clean water so you can wipe your walls down as you remove the paper. After all the effort in removing the wallpaper, you don't want the glue residue drying on your walls. Good luck! Removing wallpaper is not the most fun DIY project but it sure is rewarding when that last little bit comes off! :)
For wallpaper removal over plaster. The walls should be glue sized, not primed. That means that adhesive has impregnated the plaster which will attack new paint and make it alligator. If you want to paint after removing wallpaper you should prime with zinsser's guards. Guards is a penetrating primes sealer that will lock in the adhesive allowing you to paint. for more info, check out the PDCA standards on my web page http://www.mypaperhanger.com/New%20jersey_wallpalper_removal.htm
Seidman is right. I found out the hard way when removing wallpaper. The paper removal was the easy part. Removal of adhesive was the hardest. When cleaning the walls of adhesive, do not pour your dirty water bucket down the sink. The adhesive will clog the drain, I did this and my husband had to replace part of the plumbing.
Is the wallpaper vinyl or paper? If you use a spray bottle of warm water and keep spraying warm water and letting it soak where it where it is separating from the wall or at the seams and keep getting it wet. White vinegar is one of the best things to eat off the glue. Using a steamer works too and start at the seams.
Thanks everyone for your help, especially @Seidman Paperhanging for your explanation!