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The Best Way to Remove Wallpaper


If you ask different people about how to remove wallpaper, you will undoubtly get lots of different answers. Some people will suggest using a product like Zinser Dif or Savogran Qt — while others will tell you to use vinegar or fabric softener or ammonia and mix with water — and others will tell you that you need to rent a steamer. However, being in the wallpaper business for so many years, I have tried nearly everything possible and I have found this to be the best way to remove wallpaper.

Things you need:

1. Pump up garden sprayer
2. Dishwashing liquid (Any dishwashing liquid will do)
3. Drop cloth or something to lay on the floor.
4. Putty knife ( I like to use a 6″ putty knife )
5. Trash bag

Pour some of the dishwashing liquid into the garden sprayer (I don’t have any set amount) — just pour a decent amount in the sprayer and fill it up with “hot” water. The idea here is that when you spray the hot water and dishwashing liquid onto the wallpaper, there will be suds all over the wallpaper. The suds keeps the water from just running off and into the floor — therefore allowing the water time to sit on paper and soak in.

A few things to note. Is the wallpaper you are removing a paper or a vinyl? If it is a vinyl, the water will not penetrate. And if it is a vinyl then is it a fabric backed vinyl or a paper back vinyl.

A fabric back vinyl will dry strip. The only thing to keep in mind is to start with a corner and keep your knuckles close to the wall. If you pull the paper out and away from the wall, then you run the risk of defacing the sheetrock which just means more repair work.

However, most likely it is a paper or a paper back vinyl which is what this wallpaper removing article is directed towards. I like to start spraying a section of the wallpaper such as a whole wall. I start at the top and work my way to the bottom soaking the wallpaper as I go. I don’t just spray a little on, I soak it. You can try and start removing it, but in most cases you will need to let it soak for 10 minutes or so and then try to remove it by pulling at a corner or using your putty knife to scrape it off.

If this doesn’t work, then soak it again. I have had to soak it several times in many cases.

Also, try different things when removing the wallpaper such as working from the top towards the bottom — or working from the bottom towards the top. Try grabbing a corner and pulling away from the wall or pulling towards the wall. Many times you will find something that just works better.

One other thing, if the wallpaper has a vinyl front, then you will probably have to remove the front layer first. Sometimes you can dry strip it which leaves a brown or beige paper backing which will then have to be soaked off. Sometimes the vinyl front doesn’t want to come loose to well. In this case, even though the water and dishwashing liquid will not penetrate the vinyl, I have found that by spraying it on the vinyl it will soak into the seams and around the edges and sometimes helps me to remove the front layer easier.

While some wallpaper comes down easily… others can be a complete pain. Like I said before, between me and my dad, we have pretty much tried every way possible to remove wallpaper. But this is the technique we have used for years and in our opinion, it still works the best.

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