The Easiest Way to Remove Wallpaper From Older Walls

Posted by Pekin Insurance on Mar 04, 2020 in Home

4 min read

It takes hard work to update an old home, but what's the easiest way to remove wallpaper?

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You finally freed up a weekend to tackle DIY projects you’ve put on hold for months. Before you round up paint and brushes, learn the best way to remove old wallpaper.

Let’s get started!


“Why Can’t I Paint Over Wallpaper?”

You can paint over old wallpaper, but that doesn’t mean you should. You have to do some homework first.

Check the walls you plan to paint. Is the wallpaper peeling or bubbling? Do you see dents where drywall caved in?

Paint alone won’t hide those blemishes.

If you follow through with a paint-over job, you need to get rid of damaged wallpaper and replace it. On top of that, you should secure peeling or loose pieces with an adhesive.

If you decide to paint over the  wallpaper, you’ll need:

  • Spackle if you have wallpaper with a heavy texture
  • Oil-based primer to cover the walls


Removing Wallpaper From Older Walls

When you start a project like this, double-check all the tools and supplies you need. You lose time when you stop work to run to the store or make online orders.

You’ll need these items to follow the easiest steps for removing old wallpaper:

  • Putty knife or wallpaper scraping tool
  • Spray bottle
  • Sponge
  • Drop cloth
  • Trash bag
  • Wallpaper stripper or fabric softener

After you gather your supplies, turn off the power to the room you're working in. Water dripping into an outlet could lead to disaster.

Next, fill a spray bottle with hot water and one of these ingredients:

  • Fabric softener
  • A tablespoon of baking soda
  • Vinegar

These ingredients dissolve the adhesive holding up the wallpaper.

Mix the water in small batches so it stays hot. Move everything away from the walls, put down your drop cloth to catch dust and debris, crank some tunes, and get to work.

Soak a small section of the wallpaper with your sponge or spray bottle, and let it sit five to 10 minutes. Starting at a seam, peel the old wallpaper away with a putty knife. Try not to dig too far, or you’ll damage the wall underneath.

Continue the process in small sections until you've removed all the wallpaper. Once you finish, give the wall a few days to dry, then it's ready to paint. 



Waterproof Wallpaper

Some types of wallpaper are waterproof. On This Old House, Merle Henkenius uses a scoring tool to make small punctures in the wall covering. Doing this creates small perforations to let the water in.

Cracks and Holes

Repair cracks and holes before you paint your walls. 

Fill small holes with spackle and smooth them out with a putty knife. Once it's dry, sand it.

Large holes could lead you to replace the drywall, but that's a conversation for another time.

What about cracks? Cover the length of the crack with drywall joint tape. Spackle the length and width of the tape, and sand it smooth after the spackle dries.


Ways to Reuse Old Wallpaper

Your old wallpaper is probably coated with chemicals that make it impossible to recycle. You could throw it away or use pieces of it for wall murals, scrapbooks, party decorations, and more.

Do you want to take on more projects after you finish your walls?

Read these blog posts for more ideas:

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Accidents happen, even when you’re careful. Make sure you have the right homeowners insurance for every DIY project.

Contact your local, licensed Pekin Insurance agent to put your protection in place!


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