Wallcovering Stripping

The materials and techniques discussed for wallcovering stripping, work on most types of wallpaper. Certain wallpapers require specialized techniques and may also require the services of a wallcovering removal specialist.

Start Wallcovering Stripping

Start by stripping the outer face off of the wallpaper. This can be a vinyl coating or just a dense layer of paper. This should leave only the backing material and glue. Prepare a wallpaper stripping solution consisting of water and a little dishwashing detergent. Wallpaper stripping solution should be sponged on the backing material and allowed to soak (re-wetting as necessary) for at least 10 minutes. An inexpensive garden-type sprayer will speed up the soaking process. Attempt to remove the backing material with a wallpaper scraping tool or any flat-bladed tool such as a wide putty knife. If this fails, re-wet the backing and allow to soaks longer. The more you soak, the easier the job.

Alternate Wallcovering Stripping Method

If the above wallcovering stripping solution is not working well enough, you may also try a solution of 2-parts water to 1-part white vinegar and use the same technique. This stripping solution is only effective against wallpaper installed using wheat or starch based wallpaper adhesives. If the adhesive is unknown, there are many readymade wallpaper removals that will aid in your removal. If you plan on painting the area you just stripped, you must remove all glue behind the backing. To tell if there is still glue remaining, wet the wall and feel it. Any slick areas will show were glue remains on the surface. To remove any remaining paste, mix 2 tablespoons of liquid fabric softener into a gallon of water and scrub. Carefully rinse the entire wall surface to remove all traces of remaining paste or wallpaper stripper before you paint.

Dry Peel Wallpaper

If your vinyl/dense paper facing does not want to peel off the backing, you may try to dry peel it off the wall. This may or may not cause wall damage. You can also obtain a wallpaper scoring tool, such as the Paper Tiger, to score the paper and perform the above steps for removal. Paper scoring tools can damage the drywall underneath the wallpaper but are gentler on plaster walls. Read the directions on the package for complete instructions, but a good rule of thumb is to let the tool do the work. 

Additional lateral pressure will cause undue damage to the wall surface. An alternate method is to use a razor to score a series of Xs into the wallpaper surface. This requires a careful touch as to not damage the underlying wall surface. In some cases, the scoring and soaking steps will promote or enhance the stripping of the facing material.

After this step, attempt to remove the facing material again. If you are still having trouble, you will have to perform repetitive score, soak and strip steps to remove your wallpaper. Remember that soaking and patience is your best friend when stripping.