What's the best way or technique to remove wallpaper?

I'm in the process of helping my mother redo her 25 year old kitchen. It is covered in wallpaper! ...about three different patterns! What is the best way to remove the wallpaper? Or would it be better to just paint over the wallpaper?
  13 answers
  • Onesta Construction Onesta Construction on Jan 23, 2013
    The best way I have found to remove wallpaper is using a Paper Tiger to score the wall paper all over, then mix DIF wallpaper remover with water in a standard garden pump sprayer. spray the diff on and let it sit for a few min. then using a scraper scrape off the wallpaper. Re soak any stubborn spots. Remember to wipe down the wall afterwards to remove ant remover and or glue. Just follow the directions on the bottle.

  • Alaya Alaya on Jan 23, 2013
    Thank you! I will give that a try!

  • Miriam Illions Miriam Illions on Jan 23, 2013
    Great tip from @Onesta Construction - I didn't know that. Here's something else you can try, this was posted by @Peace Painting Co., Inc. : http://www.hometalk.com/133617/as-far-as-removing-the-wallpaper-this-was-an-easier-one-best-charles

  • Shari Shari on Jan 23, 2013
    I've used different methods to remove wallpaper, depending on how stubborn the paper is but I always start with scoring the paper with a "paper tiger." I've tried fabric softener mixed with hot water applied with a spray bottle. A few times it worked really well for me--the paper came right off effortlessly with a paint scraper. Other times the fabric softener method did nothing but make my house smell good. A couple times I used DIF wallpaper remover--again with mixed results. After fabric softener, DIF and another brand of wallpaper remover failed me on one wallpaper removal effort, I purchased a basic wallpaper steamer from Lowe's for about $50. I have also painted over wallpaper that is stuck really well. However, I would only do that as a last resort if you just can't get the paper to come off with any other method. In my experience, if you successfully pull the top layer of the wallpaper off and then paint over the 2nd (paper backing) layer, it looks like you have painted over paper, which you have. As you get into this project, you might even find you have to use a combination of products and techniques to get it off. It's definitely not a fun job but oh so rewarding when you get that last bit of wallpaper off! Good luck!

  • If you do a search on HT for wall paper removal you will get a ton of ideas. I use Diff and boiling hot water in a garden sprayer when I have done this along with a paper tiger to score the paper so it allow the moisture into the glue are faster. Just be sure to take your time. Way to many times people try to rush this. Let the water and Diff do its job. Depending upon the glue that was used and its age it can take only a few min before things start to loosen up or half hour. Just keep everything wet and do not go crazy pulling it down without cleaning the wall where each section was removed. If you wait to long the glue will dry again making it even harder to get off the wall. And sanding does not work.

  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Jan 24, 2013
    Having had this experience, whatever you do, DO NOT PAINT THAT PAPER! Get rid of it once and for all. And be prepared to do some repair to the wall board. Home Depot sells a spackling that is easier to sand...it is very light in weight so you will know you have the right one. And get a couple of diamond encrusted sanding screens (these can be used by hand...you do not need a holder for them). Repairing drywall is not difficult, just messy and time consuming. Do not sand between coats of spackling and do not over spackle. Hint: Take this slow and easy. It may zip right off and require little work but more than likely it will not be a quick job. Do not overtire yourselves. Get a couple of large boxes and throw in your paper as you go to avoid the hard work of picking it up later when you are worn out! And do not expect this to be a one day job. If she cannot live with a distressed look for a while, leave it alone or call in a professional.

  • Cheryl Thornton Cheryl Thornton on Jan 24, 2013
    I have had good luck with hot water and liquid fabric softner in a spray bottle...score the paper and then spray with this, wait a few minutes for the mixture to penetrate the glue and scrape off with a putty knife - makes the house smell good at the same time!

  • Lots of people are using all sorts of DIY mixes to help remove paper. What they do not realize all these chemicals are doing is acting as a wetting agent. Keeping the and allowing the water to penetrate and stay on the surface longer without running off. They do nothing other then that. The water is what is softening the adhesive on the back of the paper. However chemicals such as Diff have mixtures in them that help break down the water soluble glue that makes up the paste used to hold the paper on the wall. So you will find some people having luck using one thing or another, or you can simply use the proper product that is formulated to do the job.

  • Alaya Alaya on Jan 25, 2013
    Thank you everyone for the feedback! I have a lot of options now!

  • Gretchen Gretchen on Jan 25, 2013
    Just a question - are your walls drywall or plaster? If plaster, you may want to check how deeply the Paper Tiger digs into the wall before you score an entire wall. With 3 layers of paper you should be ok, but check. The Paper Tiger works great on drywall! I have used DIF, vinegar and warm water, and just plain warm water (wetting a small area at a time). They all work in their own way - it depends on the type of paper and if the walls were prepped before the paper went on. (I doubt they sized the walls if they put one layer over another, but maybe?).

  • Alaya Alaya on Jan 26, 2013
    Hi @Gretchen The walls are drywall. I think it's just one layer of wallpaper but there are three different patterns. I've heard alot of people talking about using plain warm water like you mentioned. too. Thanks!

  • Jackie Jackie on Feb 16, 2015
    If you like the look of plaster (which I do) you can cover the paper with joint compound & then paint.

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    • Jackie Jackie on Jul 28, 2015
      @Thanks for the info. My son just did this technique on his bedroom wall a few months ago without using primer. So far ,so good. I am about to do this also. I will use the primer as you suggested just to be on the safe side.

  • Sally Webster Sally Webster on Jul 27, 2015
    I have done 4 rooms. If the wall paper is really secured to the wall use 2 coats of KILZ OIL base primer.Then you can do what ever to the walls. Here in Texas the contractors spray a light texture on the walls, prime then paint. (2 bed rooms) my daughter tore up tissue paper and applied it with wallpaper paste in a powder room. Primed, painted and glazed. Really handsome looking. Then another bath room she used a bucket of "mud" and applied that with a trowel, then took the trowel and knocked down the texture so it did not look like the outside of a couple local Mexican Eateries. Primed and painted. Turned out great. All over wallpaper with 2 coats of oil base primer to seal the wallpaper.