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How to Remove Wallpaper & Prep for Painting

One way to update a room's look is to remove outdated wallpaper and paint the walls. Like many people, you may have heard wallpaper stripping horror stories that have led you to believe removing wallpaper is a difficult task. While it is true that removing wallpaper can be time consuming, especially in situations where you are removing many layers of old wallpaper, tools like wallpaper scorers and chemical stripping formulas address the main issues that can create difficulties. Using these tools, along with a little elbow grease, you can strip and repaint a small room within a weekend.

Things You'll Need

  • Protective work gloves
  • Protective eye wear
  • Scoring tool
  • Wallpaper stripper
  • Wallpaper steamer (optional)
  • Scraping tool
  • Scrub brush
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Spackle
  • Spackle knife
  • Medium-grit sandpaper
  • Primer
  • Paint roller
  • Paint tray
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    • 1

      Attempt to remove a piece of the wallpaper by peeling a corner up and away from the wall. If you're lucky, the strip will come off in smooth rolls without leaving any, or much, paper or sticky glue residue on the wall. If so, remove all the wallpaper and proceed to step 4. If the wallpaper does not pull away easily, put on your protective gear and get out the scoring tool.

    • 2

      Use the scoring tool to loosen the glue beneath your wallpaper. Follow the manufacturer's directions for the best way to use your specific tool. Move the tool along the wall in a figure eight pattern. Work in small sections until you have completely covered the wall with perforations.

    • 3

      Apply the wallpaper stripper to the wall according to the manufacturer's instructions. Depending on the brand you purchase, you may need to mix the concentrated wallpaper stripping liquid with water before applying. Use a sponge to apply the wallpaper stripper in sections along the wall, starting from the top and working your way down. Allow the stripper to soak for 15 to 20 minutes (or according to the manufacturer's directions) before attempting to remove the wallpaper. You will know the wallpaper stripper is working when you see the paper begin to bubble. Remove the wallpaper, using the wallpaper scraper to help remove any stubborn pieces.

    • 4

      Use a scrubber and warm, soapy water to wipe down the walls, which will remove any residual wallpaper glue and help to clean the walls of chemicals. Rinse the walls down a final time with a sponge and clear water. Allow the walls to dry completely before continuing.

    • 5

      Prepare the wall for paint. Patch any uneven areas, holes or dents with spackle. Allow the spackle to dry completely. Use a medium-grain sandpaper to sand the patched areas smooth. Use a damp sponge to wipe away any grit, and apply the paint primer to the walls according to the manufacturer's directions. You may need to apply two coats of primer to coat the walls completely. After the primer is dry, your walls are ready to paint.