Out of all the home improvement projects, removing old wallpaper and glue is probably one of the most frustrating and tedious jobs. It’s even worse if there are several layers of paper and the adhesive simply refuses to budge. We’ll show you how to remove wallpaper glue in a few simple steps so that the job is nearly headache-free.
The wallpaper removal process is laborious and often takes more time to complete than you initially thought. You spend your weekend carefully peeling and scraping away bits of old wallpaper from plaster walls, and just when you think you’re finished, you discover the wall surface has blotches of old wallpaper glue.
Now a new weekend is upon you, and it’s time to roll up your sleeves once more. But, what is the most efficient way to remove the wallpaper paste and glue residue?
- Easy Wallpaper Glue Removal
- Steps to Take Before You Clean the Glue from the Wall
- Removing Wallpaper Adhesive from Drywall with Soapy Water
- Get Rid of the Glue with Baking Soda
- Removing Wallpaper Adhesive with Vinegar
- Removing Sticky Glue with Fabric Softener
- How to Remove Wallpaper Glue with Trisodium Phosphate
- Using Heat to Remove Wallpaper Glue
- Tips for Scraping Away Wallpaper Glue
- Cleaning Away Wallpaper Glue by Sanding
- Cleaning a Wall after Removing Wallpaper Glue
Easy Wallpaper Glue Removal
While cleaning leftover adhesive from the walls requires elbow grease and patience, there are a few ways to make the chore easier.
Whether you need to get rid of painted wallpaper or the vinyl wallpaper you used to love, taking it off is a chore. You’ve come this far in the task of removing strippable wallpaper, and there is no turning back now.
We show you how to clean the remaining sticky residue and every last bit of glue so that the entire wall is smooth and ready for a new paint job or fresh application of wallpaper.
Steps to Take Before You Clean the Glue from the Wall
As tempting as it is to plow right through the task of removing wallpaper adhesive, we recommend preparing for the job at hand to make your work more efficient and clean-up a breeze. Here are a few steps to take before you clean wallpaper glue from wall.
Cleaning wallpaper glue is a messy job, so move furniture away from the walls or out of the room. Drape drop cloths over items you can’t move and on the floor beneath the walls.
Cover electrical outlets with painter’s tape and protect baseboards with newspaper or plastic. Set up a garbage can nearby and keep extra trash bags handy during the entire process.
Removing Wallpaper Adhesive from Drywall with Soapy Water
It’s often best to start with the easiest method, and this is also true when you remove wallpaper glue from drywall. If the adhesive is sparse, consider using soapy water to clean the wall surface. This also applies to those easy to remove wall stickers that leave adhesive behind.
Pour water into a large bucket and add a few squirts of dish soap. Use your hand to agitate the water to create soapiness. Dunk a sponge into the water and wring it out to remove excess liquid.
Rub the wet sponge over the areas of adhesive and let it sit for a few minutes. Wipe a rag over one of the damp sections to test if the glue is soft.
If the bond comes off the wall, continue wiping it with rags. Otherwise, use a paint scraper to scrape the glue from the surface gently.
Get Rid of the Glue with Baking Soda
If soapy water doesn’t do the trick to clean away wallpaper glue residue, try adding baking soda. This mildly abrasive powder helps gently scour away glue bits while the soap softens it for quick removal.
Pour hot water into a large bucket, add a few squirts of dish soap, sprinkle in the baking soda, and then stir the liquid with your hand. Dunk a sponge into the solution and wring it out to prevent dripping.
Use the sponge to scrub one of the glue spots, using a circular motion, and then let it sit for a few minutes.
Use a putty knife to scrape the softened adhesive away and reapply the liquid if any residue remains. Repeat the steps on each affected part of the wall until all the glue is gone.
Another advantage to using baking soda is that it is also an effective DIY nicotine wall cleaner, as well as eliminating all kinds of other unpleasant odors.
Removing Wallpaper Adhesive with Vinegar
For stubborn adhesive stains, consider using a vinegar mixture to clean wallpaper glue from wall. White vinegar is mildly acidic and works to dissolve sticky residue from many surfaces.
Prepare the glue wallpaper remover by adding a cup of vinegar for each gallon of water into a bucket. Dip a sponge into the vinegar water and wring out the excess cleaner.
Rub the wet sponge over the glue spots on the wall and let it sit for several minutes as the vinegar begins dissolving and loosening the adhesive. Scrape away the glue with a paint scraper or putty knife and reapply the liquid if necessary.
Removing Sticky Glue with Fabric Softener
Fabric softener has more uses than getting the static out of your clothing. It’s also useful to remove old wallpaper glue and is a great alternative to using soap and baking soda, and it smells better than vinegar.
To make a homemade spray for wallpaper removal, combine equal parts warm water and liquid fabric softener in a bottle sprayer and shake the container well to mix. Work in small sections, and spray the liquid over the adhesive.
Wipe any drips with rags, and let it sit for a few minutes to soften the glue. Press the edge of a putty knife between the wall and the glue and scrape the gunk away, making sure to wipe away the residue with rags as you work.
Trisodium Phosphate Removes Stubborn Glue
If you’re not into making your own adhesive remover, the best way to remove wallpaper glue is to use trisodium phosphate. TSP is a soluble powder that cleans away grime, stubborn stains, and adhesive, leaving your wall with a smooth surface.
Pour very hot water into a bucket and add a small amount of trisodium phosphate. Stir the liquid with a paint stick to combine the ingredients.
Put on rubber gloves to give your hands protection, and then wet the sponge with the liquid. Wipe the solution over the wall’s affected areas without saturating it, and then use a rag or putty knife to remove the glue from the surface.
Using Heat to Remove the Glue
Heat is the best tool for softening tough glue stains leftover from wallpaper. There are two ways to apply heat to the wall, a heat gun and a steamer, and both are effective at helping the adhesive loosen its grip for easy removal.
To remove glue with a heat gun, follow the instructions for your model. Hold the gun six inches away from the adhesive to warm and soften it, but do not hold it in place for too long.
Move the heat gun to the next area, and use a putty knife to pry the gunk away from the first section. If you prefer to use a steamer, place the pad over the glue area with one hand while you use the other to scrape away the adhesive.
Tips for Scraping Away Wallpaper Adhesive
There are various useful tools to remove wallpaper glue from drywall, but there is a right and wrong way to use them. Improper use of sharp tools on walls, whether it’s a scoring tool, scraper, or putty knife, damages the surface.
Proper Wall Scraping
Hold the putty knife or paint scraper at an angle and press the sharp edge between the wall and adhesive. Apply just enough pressure to the rear of the tool so that the bottom edge curves slightly.
Gently wiggle the blade and slide it beneath the glue while pushing the tool forward. Avoid jamming the edge into the wall to prevent gouging. This is also how to remove vinyl wall decals without damaging the wall.
Cleaning Away Wallpaper Residue by Sanding
Sometimes adhesive is a bit more challenging to remove, and sanding is necessary to remove thick patches of wallpaper glue. If other methods don’t remove all the glue from the wall, allow it to dry and use sandpaper to give the surface a smooth finish.
Fit a sheet of medium-grit sandpaper over a sanding block and position it over the first area of glue. Sand the adhesive away from the wall surface by using a back and forth motion and replace the paper as needed.
Stop sanding once you get near the wall and clean away the remaining residue with soapy water and a sponge.
Cleaning a Wall After Removing the Wallpaper and Adhesive
After your wall is paper and glue-free, there is one more step in the process to prepare your walls for a fresh paint coat or new wallpaper.
Cleaning the walls is the final step in your home improvement project, and using a DIY wall cleaner spray finishes the job.
When preparing plaster walls after removing wallpaper, pour warm water into a plastic bottle sprayer, add the soap and vinegar, and shake the container gently to mix.
Start at the top corner of the wall and spray the liquid in sections. Use a sponge to clean the surface and a towel to dry it, and then move on to the next area.
When you wash walls with vinegar before painting them again, you ensure that no residue remains on the walls to interfere with new paint.
Spending the weekend removing old wallpaper is bad enough. Discovering that the job is not over when you see streaks of sticky glue still on the wall is disheartening.
While the task that lies before you is still time-consuming, it doesn’t have to be difficult if you use the correct tools and methods.
Now that you learned how to remove wallpaper glue for a clean wall surface, why not share our wallpaper adhesive removal guide and tips with your friends and family on Facebook and Pinterest to make their home improvement projects easier?