Whether you just moved into a new house or lived there for years, gaudy or faded old wallpaper is often a source of minor but constant irritation. Although wallpaper removal is never easy, removing wallpaper from drywall is especially challenging since you can’t get it wet for long or poke holes in it.
Thankfully, we have a few tips for how to remove wallpaper from drywall that make the removal process go more smoothly. It’s always a good idea to remove the old wallpaper before applying new wallpaper or a coat of paint.
The exact process for stripping wallpaper off drywall depends on the type of wallpaper. Newer wallpapers are often strippable, meaning that you can remove both the top layer of wallpaper and the backing using only manual methods. For peelable wallpaper, you’ll have to use chemicals or other products to loosen the adhesive.
- Removing Wallpaper from Drywall the DIY Way
- Preparation for Removing Wallpaper from Drywall
- How to Remove the Top Layer of Wallpaper
- Removing Wallpaper Backing
- How to Remove Wallpaper from Drywall
- Stripping Wallpaper off Drywall with a Wallpaper Steamer
- How to Remove Wallpaper from Drywall with Fabric Softener
- Stripping Wallpaper off Drywall with Fabric Softener and Dish Soap
- Cleaning and Repairing after Removing Wallpaper from Drywall
- What Tools are Necessary for Removing Wallpaper from Drywall?
- What are the Side Effects of Chemical Wallpaper Stripper?
Removing Wallpaper from Drywall the DIY Way
Before starting to remove wallpaper from Sheetrock, follow our tips for preparing the room to make the chore of clean up drywall dust and old paper easier when you are finished with the job. After peeling and scraping the outer wallpaper layer, you have different options for stripping wallpaper off drywall and cleaning any remaining paste off the wall.
Preparation for Removing Wallpaper from Drywall
If you’ve been wondering how to remove wallpaper from drywall, the first step is to remove anything hanging on the walls, including picture frames, lamps, light switch or outlet covers, and vent covers.
Make sure, as well, to take out any nails and screws. Tape nails and screws to the appropriate items so that you don’t get confused later. Get sticky dots off walls as well as any decals. Move all furniture to a different room or place it in the center of the room.
Cover remaining furniture items with tarps or plastic sheets. Use a drop cloth to protect the baseboard and floor from water and falling wallpaper paste. If you’ll be employing a wallpaper steamer, cover outlets with painter’s tape.
How to Remove the Top Layer of Wallpaper
This method is the first step for most strategies for stripping wallpaper off drywall. If you’re lucky enough to have strippable wallpaper, it’s possible to remove your wallpaper using this method alone.
Start by finding a loose area of wallpaper, such as near an outlet or in a corner. When removing vinyl wallpaper from drywall, pull the paper away from the wall with the help of a utility knife.
Once you have a good grip on the wallpaper, tug it toward you slowly and steadily. You may be able to remove a whole sheet at once, or you may need to pull it off in stages.
Removing Wallpaper Backing
In most cases, after peeling off the outer wallpaper layer, you’re confronted with backing that’s stuck to the wall with adhesive. Wet a sponge with the hottest water that you can handle while wearing rubber gloves. Rub the sponge on the backing.
With drywall, in particular, work in small sections. Drywall should not be wet for more than 15 minutes at a time. Once the backing is soft, carefully scrape it off with a putty knife with round, flexible edges.
How to Remove Wallpaper from Drywall
This approach requires special wallpaper-removing fabric sheets, available by online order. Soak the sheets in a bucket of hot water to help them stick to the wall.
After peeling off as much wallpaper as you can, use a scoring tool or coarse sandpaper to punch small holes in the paper, which lets the stripper access the wallpaper glue.
Wring the sheets and stick them on the wallpaper, starting in a corner. The sheets’ edges should touch but not overlap. Spray the wall with the wallpaper stripper using a spray bottle or compression sprayer.
Leave the wallpaper soaking for 30 minutes since the sheets protect the drywall from water damage. Remove the sheets from the wall, starting with the first sheet that you applied.
One or more wallpaper layers should peel off with each sheet. Place them back in the hot water to reuse for other sections of wallpaper.
Stripping Wallpaper off Drywall with a Wallpaper Steamer
Another option for weakening wallpaper adhesive is renting a wallpaper steamer from a home improvement store. Heat also makes an effective vinyl decal remover and is instrumental in getting candle wax off walls.
Consult the steamer’s instruction manual, but first, remove as much wallpaper manually as possible. Hold the steamer against the paper surface for 10 to 20 seconds to loosen it.
Start with the wallpaper closest to the ceiling to let the hot water drip down. Bubbles in the wallpaper tell you that the steamer is working.
Once you have the top layer of wallpaper removed, use a utility knife or scoring tool to put holes in small sections of the backing. This step allows the steam to get beneath the wallpaper.
Use a putty knife to scrape and peel away the wallpaper backing. Repeat the steaming, scoring, and scraping process with other sections of wallpaper.
Not only is this remedy ideal for wallpaper, but it also makes removing a stubborn wallpaper border easier and is a great way to remove paneling glue from drywall. Steam has all kinds of home uses.
How to Remove Wallpaper from Drywall with Fabric Softener
The liquid form of fabric softener is a useful ingredient for removing wallpaper glue from walls or to get glue off plaster walls. Combine equal parts liquid fabric softener and warm water in a spray bottle, then use your scoring tool.
Spray a section of wallpaper and let it sit for several minutes, then use a paint scraper to peel off the paper. Repeat these steps for the other areas until you uncover the entire wall.
Try fabric softener for removing painted wallpaper from drywall and you may find the process a little easier.
Stripping Wallpaper off Drywall with Fabric Softener and Dish Soap
Fabric softener and dish soap are effective at loosening stubborn wallpaper adhesive and often work as a homemade drywall stain remover at the same time. Mix them to achieve a powerful combination that is a great homemade wallpaper remover solution.
For removing wallpaper glue as well as the wallpaper, combine the fabric softener, dish soap, and water in a spray bottle or compression sprayer, then remove as much wallpaper as possible.
Spray a portion of the wallpaper backing, then let it sit for a few minutes. Pull the backing away from the wall with the scraper, then move on to the next bit of wallpaper.
Cleaning and Repairing after Removing Wallpaper from Drywall
Once you remove your wallpaper, you may feel like sitting back and calling it a day. Although wallpaper removal is an accomplishment, it’s essential to thoroughly clean and fill in the drywall before applying new wallpaper or pulling out the paintbrush.
If you’re in the unfortunate situation of having removed wallpaper from drywall that was not primed and sealed, look for a water-based sealer for damaged drywall. Before applying the sealer, sand any loose wallpaper.
To remove paste stuck on the wall, use either a putty knife or gel wallpaper stripper along with a scraper. Remove remaining adhesive with a sponge soaked in hot water. Allow the wall to dry for at least 24 hours.
Patch small holes and gouges with spackle and larger ones with joint compound. Once the wall filler is dry, finish the job by sandpapering, vacuuming or dusting, and wiping with a damp cloth.
What Tools are Necessary for Removing Wallpaper from Drywall?
Wallpaper removal requires numerous supplies, although many are ones you either already have at home or can find at a home improvement store.
For protecting the room, you need a drop cloth and tarps or plastic sheets, as well as painter’s tape if you’re employing a wallpaper steamer. To keep yourself safe, rubber gloves and safety goggles come in handy.
Basic supplies include dish sponges, clean cloths, sandpaper, a bucket, and a spray bottle. More specialized items include a snap-blade utility knife, a putty knife, a scoring tool, and a paint scraper.
Any other requirements depend on your chosen wallpaper removal approach. For example, you may need a wallpaper steamer or wallpaper removal sheets.
What are the Side Effects of Chemical Wallpaper Stripper?
Although a chemical wallpaper stripper is relatively safe to use, it’s best to exercise caution. Avoid contact between wallpaper stripper and your skin or eyes since it may cause skin irritation and is likely to cause eye pain or irritation.
Wear rubber gloves if you have sensitive skin or expect to use the stripper repeatedly. Wash your hands immediately if it gets on your skin, and swap out clothing if the chemical spills on it.
Wear goggles if there’s any chance of eye contact. If any gets in your eyes, rinse them with water for at least 15 minutes.
If you’d prefer not to use a chemical, other options include a sponge with hot water or a wallpaper steamer. Alternatively, combine equal parts vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle.
After you let a section of wallpaper backing soak for slightly 12 minutes or so, remove the backing with a scraper.
Among wall coverings, wallpaper has its advantages. It comes in different patterns, it covers wall defects, some types are long-lasting, and many are washable.
On the other hand, it’s often more expensive than paint, its edges may start to come loose, and it’s a pain to install and remove.
For all these reasons, wallpapering is one of those DIY projects that many people put off starting. With both drywall and plaster walls, this procrastination is understandable.
However, we hope that our tips for how to remove wallpaper from drywall leave you feeling empowered to tackle a wallpaper project.
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