What Is The Best Way To Remove Wallpaper?

Removing wallpaper can be a messy and time-consuming task — particularly for new DIYers. While there isn't an "easy" way to remove old wallpaper, there are tricks to getting the job done with minimal headache and without damaging the drywall underneath. 

But, before you can begin the removal process, it's important to properly prepare the room. You'll need to relocate your furniture to another room and protect the floor with a plastic painter's tarp or some newspapers. If you're unable to remove your furniture, Architectural Digest recommends scooting each piece to the middle of the room and covering it all with a drop cloth.

Remember: Everything is about to get wet, so woodwork, furniture, and baseboards should be protected. According to Family Handyman, creating a faux gutter (with plastic) is the most efficient way to prevent water from running behind the molding, baseboards, and chair rails. Make sure the walls are free from artwork and that the electrical outlets are protected and covered with painter's tape. 

Once everything is protected and in place, cut the room's electricity (no need to shut off the entire house). If you plan on working in a room with little to no natural light, consider using work lamps powered via extension cords to light your work area. Now you can get to the job at hand. This is the best way to remove old wallpaper.

Tips for removing old wallpaper

First, determine what you're working with in your wallpaper removal project. Using the tip of a metal putty knife, test a wallpaper seam to see how easily it comes up, if at all. Be careful not to puncture the drywall during your test run. If the wallpaper comes up easily, you're in luck! This means you're dealing with strippable wallpaper, which is relatively simple to remove (via Architectural Digest). All you need is a bit of patience and some soap and water to remove any leftover residue once you've finished peeling it off. 

If the wallpaper refuses to come up, even after a slow yet moderately pressured tug, it's most likely traditional wallpaper and will need to be removed using water, elbow grease, and a chemical stripper. The best way to get through tough wallpaper is to use a scoring tool (pictured above) to create small slits in the wallpaper (via BobVila.com). These perforations will help to loosen the glue underneath. Once you've scored the wall — from floor to ceiling and corner to corner — combine hot water and wallpaper stripper liquid. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions, and don't forget to wear gloves.

Pour this mixture into a spray bottle, and then apply the solution to a small section of the wall. If you don't have a spray bottle, Family Handyman suggests using a sponge or a floor mop to saturate the wallpaper. Let the solution set for 10 to 15 minutes (no longer), and then use your putty knife to scrape the wallpaper off of the wall. Repeat this process until all of the wallpaper has been removed.