How To Remove Old Wallpaper

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Step 1

Using a flathead screwdriver, remove all of the switch and outlet covers from all of the walls that you want to work on. Once you've done this, cover the outlets and the switches with blue painter's tape.

Step 2

Cover the floor with a drop cloth to keep the floor clean and dry. Removing wallpaper can make a mess! Then apply a 12" baseboard masking (a mix of brown paper and blue painter's tape) to the baseboards. For those you who haven't seen this, you are in for a treat! It's a combination of 12" brown masking tape and blue painter's tape already put together. You can buy them separately but the money you save will be the difference in time you spend. Let the masking overlap onto the drop cloth to guarantee complete protection.

Step 3

The next step is to make lots of little holes in the wallpaper with a wallpaper scoring tool so that when you apply the wallpaper remover it will penetrate the underside. Apply just enough pressure to perforate the wallpaper without damaging the underlying wall.

Step 4

For this step, you might also consider renting a steam based wallpaper remover. They're a bit awkward to work with, but very effective. If this is out of your budget use a chemical based wallpaper remover and continue on down.

Fill a spray bottle with the wallpaper remover and apply it generously to the entire wall. If you are doing a very large area you can use a garden sprayer to accomplish this.

By the way, if you haven't put your protective eyewear on yet, now would be the time. Put on a pair of gloves as well.

Jane Tip: Here is a trick of the trade: mix the remover with water that is as warm as you can stand. This will speed up the process.

If you are sensitive to chemicals or if you are pregnant and are trying to get the baby's room ready, mix a cup of white vinegar to one gallon of hot water instead of using a commercial wallpaper remover. Keep the windows open to circulate fresh air through the room.

IMPORTANT: The first thing to know before you even start is: was the wallboard primed before it was papered? The way to tell is if you pull off the paper and find what's revealed is kind of chalky in substance, then the wall wasn't primed. If you are removing wallpaper and the paper surface of your drywall comes up too, stop immediately. When this happens, it generally means that the drywall was not sealed with enough paint when the drywall was first installed. Glue down any loose pieces and seams that have separated. Fill in uneven areas with non-shrinking surfacing compound. Sand your repairs, and then apply an oil-based sealer with an enamel undercoat. You will need to paint on top of the wallpaper, not remove it as you'll end up severely damaging your walls. If you can't stand the existing wallpaper, this may the time to call in a professional to get further advice specific to your home.

Step 5

After having waited 10-20 minutes, use a plastic scraper to lightly scrape the surface until the wall is stripped clean.

Jane Tip: Only use the entire length of the plastic scraper when working. It may seem like the corner will help to get things started, but it may also make dents into the wall that you will have to fix later.

Step 6

Now, all you have to do is go over the wall several times with a sponge and fresh water to remove any glue residue. If you skip this step, it will affect the bonding ability of the paint and cause it to peel-so do it! If there are stubborn areas that won't give into a sponge and water, let them dry a bit and then sand the area down smooth.

Once complete, simply just prime and paint your walls and they're yours once again. We told you it would be time consuming but we knew you could do it. Enjoy your liberation from old wallpaper!

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