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How to Remove Even the Most Difficult Wallpaper

If you’ve ever done battle with stubborn wallpaper, you may be surprised to learn that it’s not the wallpaper that is giving you fits of frustration; technically, it's the adhesive underneath it. While home improvement stores are loaded with chemical wallpaper removal products, the two most effective removal items are common household products you probably store in your kitchen and laundry room. Best of all, they are certain to remove even the most difficult wallpaper adhesive – resulting in a victory for you and the chance to swiftly move on to the next phase of your home improvement project.

Things You'll Need

  • Painter’s tape
  • Drop cloth or plastic adhesive
  • Scoring tool
  • Large spray bottle
  • White vinegar or liquid fabric softener
  • Putty knife
  • Mild dish soap
  • Bucket
  • Soft sponge
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    • 1

      Cover electrical outlets on the wall with painter’s tape. Turn off the power to the room as an extra precaution.

    • 2

      Place a drop cloth or plastic adhesive against the wall, being sure to cover the baseboards.

    • 3

      Create a web of tiny holes in the wallpaper with a scoring tool. Go over the wall with the tool several times in slow, methodical, circular motions. The more holes, the better; the holes create a passageway to the adhesive.

    • 4

      Adjust the sprayer so it emits a soft, gentle spray rather than a hard stream. In addition to reducing drips, a gentle spray allows you to cover the wall more completely.

    • 5

      Fill the spray bottle three-quarters full with hot water, then top off the other one-quarter with either white vinegar or liquid fabric softener. Gently shake the bottle to combine the elements.

    • 6

      Thoroughly spray the wall with the solution, covering every square inch. Let the solution soak through the scoring holes for 30 minutes.

    • 7

      Remove the wallpaper, working in small sections, with a putty knife. Find an end piece or a seam to the wallpaper, gently insert the knife underneath, and lift the paper with your other hand.

    • 8

      Clean the walls and remove any excess adhesive by mixing a 50-50 solution of mild dish soap and warm water, and wash the walls with a soft sponge. Run your hand over the wall and carefully inspect the wall in a bright light. Even tiny pieces of leftover adhesive can mar the finish you plan next for the wall.

    • 9

      Let the wall thoroughly dry before you proceed with your project. It should be bone dry before you begin to prime or paint it.