Asked on Nov 02, 2014

How do you remove a wallpaper border?

Deborah T
by Deborah T
How to remove old wallpaper, is there an easier way?
  9 answers
  • Shari Shari on Nov 02, 2014
    From my experience, there is no one "best" or easy way to remove wallpaper and/or borders. 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. Some people swear white vinegar works well too but I think it's just too stinky when you have to use a lot of it for a job like removing wallpaper. At least the fabric softener makes your house smell really nice! Saturate the paper and let it sit for a few minutes to soften the paper and adhesive. (You may wish to "score" the paper with a "paper tiger" tool before saturating the paper. It isn't 100% necessary but the little holes it makes in the paper allows the solution to soak down below the surface of the paper quicker and easier.) After the glue/adhesive has had a chance to soften, 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 5 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 have a big garbage can to throw the pieces into. If you just drop it on the floor, someone has to eventually pick it up. If you can drop it right into a big garbage can as you go along, it saves time, effort and energy. 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!

  • Deborah T Deborah T on Nov 02, 2014
    Thank you for the advice.

  • MARY FISHER MARY FISHER on Nov 02, 2014
    I have peeled what I could, use a wet cloth to wet the leftover very wet, and peel

  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Nov 02, 2014
    Spent a lot of money on products that were useless. Have removed a lot of paint over wallpaper over paint, etc. - many layers in my 100+ year old home. The worst was the original - meant to last 300 years! I mist on hot water, score, and keep misting to keep the surface moist. Then I use a wallpaper steamer and scrape. The steamer was the best investment I've made. Wash the surface well afterward with a textured cloth like terry to get any residual glue.

  • Deborah T Deborah T on Nov 02, 2014

  • The Chirping Frog The Chirping Frog on Nov 02, 2014
    I always use vinegar water..... works really well. I usually score it first... wipe it down with vinegar water and peel it off... some are more stubborn and need multiple wipe downs.

    • Laurie Laurie on Nov 03, 2014
      I use vinegar water, a steamer or hot water, score it and give it time to soak in

  • Collette Collette on Nov 03, 2014
    Make a solution with fabric softener, then scrape off. Any residue glue left wash off with sugar soap

  • Paula Ball Paula Ball on Nov 03, 2014
    I was a professional paperhanger for 25 years & this is how I removed old paper: 1st score it, a lot. If you don't the solution won't be able to get behind the vinyl. Mix a solution of hot water, vinegar, & fabric softener in a spray bottle & get busy. The vinegar dissolves the glue & the fabric softener helps keep it on the paper longer so it can soak in. Use a sharp broad knife & scrape away. Happy stripping!!!

  • Cynthia Cynthia on Jan 23, 2015
    We LOVE Piranha remover. You just score it and spray it on. Wait 20 minutes and it peels right off! @Shari