Calling all wallpaper removal experts! Need your best tips!

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Peeled 3 layers of 1970s wallpaper off the bathroom wall and left with this paper mess... Which peels off in quarter size pieces! Need everyone's best tips, help and suggestions please!
wallpaper removal tips help, home maintenance repairs, wall decor, Under 3 layers of wallpaper
Under 3 layers of wallpaper
  21 answers
  • Shari Shari on Aug 22, 2014
    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 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 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. 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 my wallpaper steamer about 4 years ago for around $50 at Lowes. It's money well spent if you have a lot of wallpaper to remove, or paper that you just can't get off with any other method. 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 really well as you remove the paper. After all the effort in removing the wallpaper, you don't want the glue residue drying on your walls because it can affect your paint later. Good luck! Removing wallpaper is not the most fun DIY project but it sure is rewarding when that last little bit of wallpaper comes off!
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Aug 22, 2014
    The only supply needed is all the patience you can muster, a few tears followed by a "hissy fit", and then a few hours away from it with a couple glasses of wine. Then the next day, get up, put on some "oldies music" and dance and work! It does not make the work easier, but it sure gets you through the day! But you have to make sure when Elvis comes on you really do it up proud...sing LOUD and scrape, scrape, scrape! Good luck!
  • Emma Taylor Emma Taylor on Aug 22, 2014
    Get a plastic garden sprayer, 2 gal. size, fill with hot water and spray it on the paper backing. Get it really wet & it should scrape off. Be sure to protect the floors from the water.
  • Lana Westerfield Lana Westerfield on Aug 22, 2014
    Lol Jeanette, at least you made me laugh! We tried fabric softener and hot water, now I'm moving up to Dif.... Shari and Emma thanks for your help! I wish we could paint over it.... And that's what the previous owners did. Now we need to get this textured and I have to have a solid surface to put mud on!
  • Carole Carole on Aug 22, 2014
    Get a sponge and bucket of hot water. Soak the paper thoroughly. You will need to put down a (preferably waterproof) cover for your floors first. Then, use a tooth edged scraper to go over the wall - laborious I know. This will rough up the paper and help get the water under it. Soak again. Then either use your trusty scraper or use a steam paper remover - you can hire these. The steamers are great as they have a flat plate that you hold against the wall - steam hits the paper and you follow through with your scraper - it comes off easily. Using one of these can feel a bit like being in a Turkish bath as you will get hot and sweaty from the steam, but it is so worth it to see that paper peel off easily. Good luck!
  • Adrianne C Adrianne C on Aug 23, 2014
    I mix up fabric softener and water in a spray bottle, thoroughly soak it, then scrape with a 5 in one tool or putty knife. Then mix up some wall cleaner, depending on what kind of wall it is under the paper, and clean it well. That works when the paper is put up with wheat paste. For the other pastes, you'll have to use the liquid wallpaper remover with the scorer.
  • Jane Bowers Jane Bowers on Aug 23, 2014
    I use half and half vinegar and warm water. Spray it on, let it sit for just a short time and then start scraping. It takes time but for me, the vinegar and water works much better than fabric softener. I don't like using any chemicals inside the house; the vinegar smells for about 10 minutes and then the odor is completely gone. It's labor intensive, but as Jeanette said, "turn up the volume"... ;0)
  • Moxie Moxie on Aug 23, 2014
    I had this same thing when I redid my bathroom. At Lowes I found an hand tool that is comfortable to use and worked very well. It has a blue handle and they sell it next to the wall paper removal items. It has an arched handle and straight edge that you can scrape with. I used a sponge to saturate the paper...then wait (to let the glue loosen) and then scrape. The previous quarter size pieces became strips of removed backing paper. I tried the spray release stuff and it helped a little bit...but not enough in my opinion over warm water to warrant the cost.
  • Cyndi Moore Tippett Cyndi Moore Tippett on Aug 23, 2014
    My choice is hot water and vinegar. I have stripped off several layers of wallpaper in four bathrooms and one kitchen. One bathroom the wall paper didn't come off so I opted to remove all of the sheetrock and start again.... lol... It was an extreme case but the best idea is lots of patience, hot water and vinegar. You do not need to score the wallpaper unless it has a vinyl coating. Make sure you sand your walls before you paint. Sometimes getting your walls ready after peeling the wallpaper is as time consuming...but spend the time on the prep work and you will be glad for the effort made.
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Aug 24, 2014
    Invest in a wallpaper steamer (as Carole from Australia suggested). I use a wallpaper knife to score the surface, then spray the surface with hot water. Makes the steaming faster. Have LOTS of experience removing layer upon layer of paint and wallpaper as my house is over 100 years old. The original wallpaper - not a seam had separated because they used a glue from hell. The steamer worked but the plaster would be hot to the touch because I had to hold the steamer in place so long! Protect your floors in the process, and afterward, clean the surface thoroughly to remove residual glue. Before I got the steamer, I tried all sorts of products/methods that were not effective and were a waste of time and money.
  • Paula Ball Paula Ball on Aug 24, 2014
    I was a professinal paperhanger for 25+ years so here goes: 1st take a razor knife & score lightly many times across the paper so the solution can penetrate. Mix up vinegar & fabric softner & hot water in small spray bottle & soak it at the top. Let it absorb & take a wide putty knife & start scraping. Remist as needed & be prepared to work. After it's all off & dry, sand & prime. Use a small spray bottle so you refill it often with hot water.
  • Paula Ball Paula Ball on Aug 24, 2014
    Vinegar degrades the adhesive & fabric softener is a surfacant to keep it from rolling downward as fast. In my work, I never saw the value of a steamer. Lots of work & burns. A very light sanding before using the solution helps & for small jobs Dif or other remover might work. Wasn't affordable professionally
    • See 2 previous
    • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Nov 19, 2015
      The only time i used vinegar was in the warm rinse water to remove any residual traces of glue at the end of the process.
  • Debi McCoy Debi McCoy on Aug 25, 2014
    My problem -- when our contractor applied the wallpaper, he didn't prep the walls first -- so when I removed it from the wall ( I am a very patient person) the paper came off and so did the paper on the dry wall!!! Now I have a mess. Help!!!
  • JoAnn Lloyd JoAnn Lloyd on Aug 25, 2014
    My handyman used warm water and a Razor scraper and stripper that you can purchase at Home Depot. He made it look very easy, but I didn't try it myself.
  • ShirleyB ShirleyB on Aug 25, 2014
    I bought a kit at Lowes that includes a claw thing that perforates the paper, a solution to soften the glue, a sponge to apply the solution, and a scraper that helps peel off larger pieces, and keeping it moist is the key to larger pieces being removed at one time. Here is the page from Lowes.com: http://www.lowes.com/pd_245870-1748-206007_4294856876%2B4294689469__?productId=3027796&Ns=p_product_qty_sales_dollar|1&pl=1¤tURL=%3FNs%3Dp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1&facetInfo=Wallpaper%20remover
    • Barbara Price Morris Barbara Price Morris on Sep 11, 2016
      Getting wallpaper off was fairly easy. What's a simple and easy way to remove glue from paneled wall?? Used several things...Dif, ammonia
  • Diana Deiley Diana Deiley on Nov 17, 2015
    If you have vinyl wallpaper the top layer should come off easily leaving the "paper" backing on the wall. Spray or use an old towel and generously apply a solution of hot water and fabric softener to the wall. Repeat until all the paper and paste are removed, then wash the wall with clean hot water. Let the wall thoroughly dry before priming and painting. I suggest adding a mildew preventative product to the paint or purchasing paint that is specific for use in bathrooms. Enjoy your new bathroom!
  • Cyndi Moore Tippett Cyndi Moore Tippett on Nov 18, 2015
    Once you get the top layers off...and they should come off easily after you score the top layers and spray vinegar/water solution on it and let it stand for 15 to 20 minutes before you start peeling the layers. The paper left on the wall will come off easily once you spray the vinegar/water solution again. Then you will need to lightly sand the wall with a drywall sanding block. You might have to repair some dry wall too because even the best wallpaper removal will have places it didn't come off.
  • Sylvia Sylvia on Nov 19, 2015
    Wet it, wet it and then wet it some more! I was having the same problem a couple of years ago and tried stuff and gadgets from Lowe's and other stores......none worked well. My 92 year old mother told me to just get the old paper really wet with plain old water. Wa-la!!!! It worked!!!🙌
  • Jackie Jackie on Aug 28, 2016
    Texturize the wall with plain old cheap joint compound. You can apply to the thickness of your choice. Thicker & you can make a pattern , such as swirls ,You can apply it very thin to just make a very smooth surface. Then just paint. Don't need to remove the wallpaper at all. I bought all these tools to remove the wallpaper, then I saw this on Pinterest. My son also did this technic in his old home with beautiful results. Doesn't crack or fall off.
  • Nancy Crowder Nancy Crowder on Sep 11, 2016
    Spray with vinegar and water to wet generously. Wait a minute or two then peel! If that doesn't do it go with Jackie suggestion!
  • Fiddledd224 Fiddledd224 on Sep 22, 2018
    1. Score the paper with a wall paper scoring tool
    2. Wipe the wall paper with equal parts warm water and liquid fabric softener, using a soft t-shirt
    3. Wait 10 minutes
    4. Peel it off
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