How to Remove Wallpaper from Unprimed Drywall

Is there anything more satisfactory than removing a strip of wallpaper in one long piece?

When we bought this house, we didn’t notice how many rooms were covered in wallpaper. “Oh, it’s only a few walls…”

When it came time to actually do something about it, we couldn’t believe how much wallpaper we were looking at.

I pulled a sheet of the original forty-year-old wallpaper just to see what we were dealing with. The top layer pulled away easily, but it left the soft paper underlayer, and under that was unprimed drywall, which is exactly what I did not want to see. Unprimed drywall is sheetrock without a paint coat, so the top layer is just a sheet of paper.

Before you apply wallpaper you’re supposed to first paint a priming layer over the drywall so the wallpaper can be removed later. Without that first coat, you’re adhering wallpaper directly to paper, and you won’t be able to remove it later without tearing it all up. That’s what Google said as I was reading about removing wallpaper from plaster walls or primed drywall, but when it came down to removing the wallpaper from unprimed drywall, every article said, “Good luck.”

Was I doomed to spend the rest of my summer pulling tiny strips of wallpaper off the walls in the back bathroom, just to end up having to spackle over all the gouges in the walls? Would I have strips of wallpaper trailing on my shoes and the feeling of glue on my hands for weeks?

I just could not do it.

Preferring the immediacy of a wrecking bar to the patience required with careful wallpaper removal, I quickly decided to take down two walls. “This will be good,” I justified, “Now we can put in insulation to soundproof the walls between the living room and the bedrooms. We’ll just put up new sheetrock and have new walls after this.”

But after knocking down those two walls and then looking around the kitchen and the bathrooms, I realized I could not pull down every wall with wallpaper. It was too much.

Through all of the demolition, the termite damage, the water coming out from behind the shower wall, the ancient air conditioner that struggled in the summer heat, and scraping up the vinyl floor, it was the idea of removing so much wallpaper that defeated me. We decided to call professionals and hire someone to remove the wallpaper in the kitchen. They would either remove the wallpaper or put up new sheetrock, whichever was faster and better.

I thought it would take the crew a long time to remove the wallpaper, but they did it quickly! And then I felt kind of dumb.

Did they use some kind of special wallpaper solution to dissolve the glue? No, they just used water, but there was one huge difference.

While I had been spritzing water with a small spray bottle, they soaked the walls with a compression sprayer for lawns and gardens.

It’s the water that lets you remove wallpaper easily from unprimed drywall without damaging it.

First pull off the top layer of wallpaper, and then soak the underlayer. Aim the stream of water at the top of the wall with the compression sprayer until water runs down the wall (for certain, have something to cover and protect the floor from the mess.)

Let the water soak into the underlayer for about ten or fifteen minutes while you move on to pull off more of the top layer on a different wall.

Let the water do the work, really get it wet and let it soak in and soften up the glue, adding more water if needed. Then use a scraper or putty knife to lift up the wet paper. You’re not scraping the wallpaper. You’re gently sliding the tool under the wet paper and pushing or lifting it away.

I wondered if the water would damage the wall, but most of water was absorbed by the underlayer of the wallpaper. The drywall did get wet, but it dried just fine. Best of all, there were no gouges to repair.

I was able to remove the wallpaper in my bathroom in just one afternoon. It made a terrific mess, but it was finished!

Have you had to tackle removing old wallpaper?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. I think I love you. Hee. I’ll be trying this for sure. My house had wallpaper in all but 2 rooms and the same unfinished drywall behind it. The first room I tackled took forever & was terribly frustrating. When I’d finally remove the last bits of paper, I had to skim coat the entire room because of all the gouges. That also took forever & was so messy. It’s been over a year and I just give the other wallpapered rooms dirty looks but they are really starting to bring me down. This gives me hope! Thank you!

  2. Leigh Anne says:

    Great info! When we first moved into this house, I had the exact same thing. It did take me forever and I kinda damaged the drywall underneath in a few places. We hired some pros to do the texture and they said if it is stuck that good that I should have just put Kilz (or other good primer) and then they could texture over that…..are you kidding me? All that work? Just wanted to add my 2 cents. Have tried it since and it worked like a charm :)

    • Wow, that’s a great tip. Would have saved me some time….
      MightyMighty´s last post…Holiday Traditions

    • Just tried Kilz. It didn’t work. The wallpaper began to pucker. Now I’ll have to remove a coat of paint and the wallpaper.

      • Leigh Anne says:

        So sorry it didn’t work. Depends on the wallpaper maybe?? If there aren’t too many bubbles could you just cut them out with a razor blade? That’s what I did when I had a few slight bubbles at the seams. Then a bit more Kilz followed by texture. Wallpaper sucks and I will NEVER put up any in my house that’s for sure!!

      • I spoke too soon. The next day after the primer dried, the puckers in the paper went away. Its not ideal but its a lot easier than replacing or tryint to repare drywall.

  3. our first house had wallpaper everywhere. I wanted to do something about it, but hadn’t gotten around to it when…
    hubby started a small kitchen fire while making mac and cheese. when he realized it, he grabbed the fire extinguisher from under the sink (Thank you thank you to whoever it was that gifted it to us for our wedding!) and then called 911.
    there was very little fire damage – not even the new stove top was ruined. but the smoke damage permeated the house. well, then insurance came out, said “we cannot get the wallpaper clean, so we will pay to replace this really nice expensive wallpaper.”
    I said, “great, take it down, and I will figure out what I want to do.”
    I painted the wall.

    so, hubby redecorated our first house, inadvertently. :)

  4. Oh my. Wallpaper is a lot of work…I’m getting so excited to see the end product!! :)!
    Sharon´s last post…It has started.

  5. I can relate. I love my older home. I had the grass skirt looking wallpaper in the foyer. Yuck.. I had to re-drywall for the same reasons. I must say though,I remember feeling great after being able to pull down a strip of wallpaper in one piece.

  6. Oh, my goodness: you are so useful! I’m bookmarking all of these posts so that I know exactly what to do when we buy a house.

    Guess I should thank you for going through all of these things just a few year ahead of me so that you can show me the ropes. :)
    Jennie´s last post…Making a Home (One Small Change at a Time)

  7. I have pulled down enough wallpaper that other people hung that I will never hang wallpaper myself. I usually use warm water with liquid fabric softener to get it down, but I’ve never had to deal with paper adhered directly to drywall. I’m having fun reading about your adventure with your house–hang in there!

  8. Andrea Cerretti says:

    Drat! I wish you had asked me. I could have told you this. My son bought an old house and EVERY room had wallpaper, some places three layers, BUT it was plaster walls. We talked to a professional and he gave us some expensive solution to put in the water but we found that water and the compression sprayer did the trick; but your right, put something on the floor to catch all that water. Then I decided to strip my kitchen here at home–on drywall walls–that HAD been primed. Used the same process, came off in full sheets. It is a no lose method.
    My husband is a contractor, and builder, but sometimes we have to learn as we go too. :) Glad it went well for you!

  9. oh no, there’s nothing i hate more than wallpaper! I had to remove layers of it when we moved in. water was the key. water and more water in the form of steam. after that the issue was getting the old wallpaper off the floor before it dried and stuck! love your blog by the way.

  10. I was helping some friends in their new house. I couldn’t believe that the previous owner had applied wallpaper directly onto the sheetrock! Even the ceiling! We were pulling it off in strips and gouging the walls. I’ll be sure to pass your article on to them!

  11. My parents used to use hot water and a large paint brush, brush it on and allow to soak. Follow along behind with a scraper. I remember many an hour spent with wallpaper in my hair!

  12. Audrey Sheppard says:

    Yes, we had to remove wallpaper from several rooms. It was such hard work! I have resolved to never wallpaper a room again because of it! LOL In one room, we did mess up the wall, so we ended up with textured wall paint and now it looks terrible because there are cracks in it. I hope to be able to re-do it soon.

  13. I see you found some shorts!

    • I noticed that, too!

    • Those are actually Doug’s shorts that I borrowed for a day when we were really tearing things up. I do have a dress that I wear when I’m painting since I got it on clearance for a few bucks at Old Navy.

  14. I LOVE to remove old wall paper, bc I accidentally learned how to do it right… and your way is the correct way I was doing it. Good to know I was doing it right allll along!!
    Peach´s last post…Playing

  15. Warm water and fabric softner works really well and smells a lot better than wet wallpaper by its self. You can try scoring the wallpaper or working up an edge before wetting it to make the job easier. Good Luck!

  16. I remember moving to a new house with my parents when I was in grade school and the new room that was to be mine had seven (7), count them SEVEN, layers of wallpaper! Young as I was, I couldn’t tell you what was underneath all that, but I just remember it taking FOREVER to get my new room done. At least, it seemed like it at the time.

    Good luck with the rest of your remodeling!

  17. Wish I had known that water trick a couple years ago when I faced the same situation in our bathroom. I texturing and priming the wallpaper then painting over it.

  18. Hah, no I have not had to tackle that problem! If I ever do I’ll be returning here, though!
    Kait Palmer´s last post…Tatum’s Fourth Week

  19. You are so productive Rachel!!! How awesome. I am loving your updates of your progress.
    jL´s last post…Things That Seem Harder Than They Are

  20. I have used a wallpaper steamer with great success! You can usually get one from your local rental store for a minimal fee. It also steamed out smelly pet urine stains on hardwood floors in a house that we did bought to flip.

  21. Great idea. When we moved into this house, my son’s bedroom had SIX layers of wallpaper, outermost being gingham and sunflowers. Yikes!

    God bless my husband for tackling all of it.
    carrie´s last post…Good reads

  22. When we purchased our house ten year ago every room was wallpapered. Luckily it is a small house (1000 sf) we used a steam wallpaper removal tool, a tiger wall paper scratched and a solution of water with vinegar. Unfortunately some of the rooms had several layers of painted wallpaper…lots of chipping. A few years later, with our daughter on the way, we finally got to our last room of wallpaper removal and realized that many layers of painted wallpaper removal was just to tedious, instead we took down the lathe and plaster walls, insulated the room (which the walls do not have insulation in.. We live in Ohio) and put up drywall. In winter her room is the coziest in the house. Wish we would have done that in the other rooms …although, the lathe and plaster rooms have more imperfections and “character”. I don’t think I’ll ever hang wallpaper… And NEVER paint over wallpaper!

  23. Good golly, that brings back unpleasant memories! We had to do a whole house like that a few years ago. Wish I’d known this trick! And talk about DRY-wall, they soaked up the new primer like crazy.
    Stephanie´s last post…Refreshingly Redundant: Watermelon Melon Water

  24. I read somewhere that Downey fabric softner and a wallpaper remover tool does the trick.

    I had to remove 1 wall of ugly clashing wallpaper in my old condo. I had to scrap and sand every square inch, bit by bit to get it off. It took me days. After 2 days I had a big pile of little shavings. The only one who enjoyed this experience was my brother’s dog Hazel who came over and played in the pile of shavings.
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  25. That is some project that you have taken on!!! I am loving following all your lessons and learning… Keep them coming you are doing a great job!!!
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  26. Yes! I am in the middle of removing a ton of wall paper in a large rambling ranch. It can make you want to cry if you don’t take it one step at a time. 98% of the top layer came off in sheets. The two long hall ways with wall paper did not. I had to wet the top layer to get it off and then the bottom layer. If I was more patient and had applied lots more water, it might have come off in one layer. There is one room where I am tearing out the sheet rock. I don’t know what kind of glue they used in there, but in large places the top layer, under layer and the paper on the sheet rock ripped off. It was too much to fix. :(

    I have removed a ton of wall paper on other houses too. Hands down lots of water is the best way! The wallpaper remover isn’t any better nor is the steamer. But I have still had some rooms that resisted coming off except in little pieces. Thank heavens it has been a relatively small amount over the years!

    My big problem now is tearing out a tile shower. Man they made that thing to last! I am going to rent a hammer drill (I think that is what they are called) to tear it down. The tile chisel is just getting it off in small pieces and the sledge hammer can’t be used on all of the walls – unless I want to have more sheet rock replaced:)

    Thanks for your encouragement.

    • When we took out our tile shower, we hired someone and they just took down the whole wall. They replaced the old sheetrock with cement board which is much better behind showers.

  27. Oh, and I am not totally convinced the wall paper tiger really does that much to help. Be careful not to push too hard with these. They can leave little marks all over your wall.

    And for the glue under all of this? More water and a scrubbing pad take it off quickly. I would wipe the wall right after doing each small area with a wet clean clothe to get the last of the sticky glue off. Of course, this depends on how much glue you have. Most of it can come off with the paper if the water is allowed to soak down to the glue. That 10 – 15 minutes can make a huge difference.

  28. Sometimes the joy of getting something DONE is worth the cost. :-) We paid people to finish painting a room that we were taking forEVER to get to. I’m an artist, I know how to PAINT, for goodness sake. But time to get it done….well that was harder to find than the money. It was a great Christmas gift last year. :-)

  29. Oh my…this brings back memories of my recent nightmare. With my husband out of work of 2 years we’re doing everything we can to bring in money. So…though I’m a good painter…I was asked to take down wallpaper – which I’d never done before and then paint. I agreed…did all kinds of research…and purchased some very expensive removal solution. My job was to take down the most perfect beautiful job of wallpaper hanging I’ve ever seen. Complete with a very deep top border and a picket fence bottom border it was beautiful. BUT…not only was it put up on unprimed walls…it was the glueiest more permanent glue job ever. And it didn’t matter whether it was wet for a long time or not…I would be gently peeling it off the wall and suddenly the drywall paper would come too. And then it took 8 additional steps to get the glue residue of the wall so I could paint. The room and bath were huge…and it took forever. Fortunately the homeowner felt sorry for me and gave me an extra $200. Fast forward a few weeks. My friend has an 1800′s house…her wall paper was put on a lath wall and it came down with just a good soaking of warm water. Whew! That was a relief. I know…it’s a long story. Guess wallpaper brings out latent frustrations – tee hee!
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  30. I have wallpaper to remove too…but my walls are primed. Still, it took quite a while when I removed it in the half bath. I was working with a steamer and water since I was pregnant at the time. I’m wondering if plain water is my best bet for the rest of it.
    Bethany´s last post…Tomatoes

  31. Wow-that’s great info to share-thank you! We actually just finished doing the very same thing in our daughters bedroom. We have lived here 18 months and every time I looked a their sports wallpaper AND border I had to just walk out of their room. We actually ended up using a mixture of very warm water and fabric softener and it worked pretty great. I did only use a spray bottle but even with such a small spray it was not so bad. We found that soaking it really well first was the key, but if it soaked for too long then we ended up pulling off drywall-yuck! I am so thankful to be done with that project and I LOVE the girls’ room now! Thank you for all of your wonderful posts!

  32. Oh my. You’ve opened a can of worms!! Our 100 year old 1 1/2 story home had layers and LAYERS of wallpaper in every room, and on most every ceiling, with plaster underneath. There were up to 6 layers on the walls and up to 5 layers on ceilings, YES, CEILINGS, of EVERY ROOM. It took 13 years, but it’s finally All Down (please, please don’t look in those 3 random closets – shhhhh). We just took the very last of it down in the stairwell, where a former owner was so nice as to PAINT over the wallpaper. sigh. We haven’t put a lick up ourselves, settling on paint. What worked for us? a little gadget called the Paper Tiger and purchasing a steamer. Still took a long time, but worked great, especially if you have 2 people: one to steam and scrape, and one to wipe down the sludge left on the plaster afterwards… otherwise that sludge dries and is much much harder to remove. Highly recommend the steamer route – you can rent them, too, and it’s totally worth it.

  33. Ah. I love old houses. The first time we tried this, we killed the walls and just ended up gutting the entire room (which we justified by saying, “now we can insulate.”) The second time, the roof leaked and made a very decorative “water wall” in the foyer. Lo and behold, the wallpaper peeled off in whole sheets! Wonderful! And then we fixed the roof.
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  34. Yes, I knew about really soaking the stuff. Living in a 90 year old house, there are layers and layers underneath the wallpaper. Oddly, because the old walls are so imperfect, it is the custom here to just paint over wallpaper where ever possible. You still have the texture (which is in many cases deliberate) but in general the wallpaper stays put and protects the walls. The bathroom, that’s a little different…
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  35. Oh, I wish you had shouted out for information because I knew that. I could have told you and saved you a headache. I learned it from HGTV and then put into practice at a friend’s house. I love seeing the work you are doing though. I’m sure it is going to be lovely.

  36. Hi.

    Yep, more water and more patience results in less frustration, for sure.

    I have removed six different wallpapers from this house in five rooms. One room had a layer of painted wallpaper underneath the layer I wanted to get rid of, so I removed them both. That was not amusing at all, but in the end, the wallpaper is gone.

    Most of the layers did not require as much water as this last one in the kitchen. Some of them came off in the two-layer approach. One came off almost completely just by tugging on it.

    In the kitchen now, there’s an underlayer of more wallpaper. It might be painted, might not, hard to tell (paper was white). Since these walls will later be removed I’m on the fence about whether to mess with this underlayer or just paint over it for now.

    I think people who put up wallpaper should have the courtesy to remove it before they sell the house to someone else. Wallpaper sucks.

  37. We have had our own share of drywall nightmares, but in a little different context. We had contractors who bailed on us in the middle of a remodel. The drywall had been hung, but not taped or mudded. I had to learn how to do those tasks. We had to creative with some textured walls to cover my messes!
    Good luck! Glad you figured the process out!
    Bernice
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  38. Wow! I didn’t realize that you were going to attack all your projects at once. Awesome. This is really fun to watch.
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  39. Ack! Where was this article when we did our kitchen earlier this summer? Most of the wallpaper did come up in one big sheet, but there was one big section that was unprimed, and OH what a pain! Oh well, we’ll know for the rest of the house.

  40. I know what your going through. Eight years ago, I worked on removing the wall paper in our house. Three rooms and a large staircase. Luckily, my daughter’s room and my bedroom only had one layer of paper and like you said getting it thoroughly wet was the trick. The stair case had 2 layers and it took a little longer but both came off fairly easy. The dining room was another story. It had 2 layers as well, and while the first layer came off easy, the second wouldn’t. I used everything. I scored the paper with a tool that cut small holes in it (our house is over 100 yrs old and has all horse hair plaster so no worries about damaging the acutal wall). I used all kinds of chemical removers and even rented a professional wall steamer. That wall paper barely budged! We eventually drywalled over top of the wall paper (after the kids and I graffittied (sp?) on it) and it was the best money spent! I can honestly admit that I despise wall paper! Glad yours came off easily.

  41. Kudos to you! I don’t like wallpaper for that exact reason, because it is a chore to clear off the walls. Also, because it can encourage mildew. It’s just something I can live without — wallpaper — Ugggh!

    I see you had to put the dress away while getting grimy & gritty with the drywall and all. There’s a time & place for everything.

  42. The best time we ever did this was when I was a kid. My dad and me wrote in pencil on the wall under where the wall paper was going. Years later when we re=papered in a more up to date style, all our little messages came to light as we took the old paper off. It wasa very bonding experience.
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  43. Our last house – my “dream” house – had wallpaper from the 70′s on many of the walls.

    The worst was my son’s room, which had wallpaper applied over latex paint which had been applied over oil based paint. What a nightmare! The paper and the latex beneath it both came up in little rubbery 1″ bits. We used a steamer, but even then it took forever.
    Brenda´s last post…IKEA and ADHD

  44. Yes, I have removed wallpaper a few times now….water alone is best, warmer water even better. I would use a very large SOAKING wet sponge to apply it from a small dish tub of warm water that I could carry with me. I lined the baseboard area with rolled up towels to absorb the excess. Worked exactly as you have described. Isn’t it wonderful that such a difficult job can be accomplished so simply and without chemicals? Kudos to you! I love watching your progress.

  45. oh this looks like a doozy. i’m curious if you ever miss some of the simplicity of renting, when faced with all of these physical, labor-intensive challenges? on the one hand, it is your space now and there is excitement in getting to do whatever you want to make it truly yours. on the other hand, there is something freeing about not being able to do these projects when it is someone else’s home… a forced “this is what you have to work with” sort of thing.

    looking forward to reading more about your adventures!

    and- you might be the first person i know about who paints in a dress!
    Katherine´s last post…First of all, today is my birthday. Second, here is the goal for September.

  46. What a wonderful tip! Thanks so much Rachel. I actually featured it on my weekly link round up it was so great!
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  47. When we moved into our house, a few small spaces (foyer, bathroom) were covered in ugly wallpaper. I just faux-textured right over the top of the wallpaper (it was glued down tight!) and painted the whole thing.

    Cheating? Yes, but the project was finished in just a few hours!
    Lindsey´s last post…It’s My Birthday and I’ll Finish the Dishes, Even If I Don’t Want To

  48. this is so like peeling an apple. the long, even piece curling upon itself as it floats to the floor.

    (or so it seems in the movies)
    Amanda @ Easy Peasy Organic´s last post…Scalloped Everything

  49. Stephan Hilson says:

    It is true that it is a big problem when removing the wallpaper. But you provided a great information on how to remove it quickly without damaging the wall. Maybe I should buy compression sprayer so that I could be able to do it too. Thanks for the great information, which definitely save me a lot of time in removing wallpapers.
    Stephan Hilson´s last post…Comparatif de forfait mobile

  50. You appear to be wearing shorts! Or is that just a short skirt?

  51. I would love to know if this works for painted over wallpaper. the people that lived in our house before us painted over the wallpaper and now I am terrified to start trying to remove it. Any suggestions?

    Thank you so much for sharing this.

  52. I have been there… when we moved into our house there were 4 different wallpapers in my kitchen alone, and mactac drawer liner stuff in my entry way!! Because we are on an acreage we had a pressurized sprayer, and we used that! It puts out so much more water, and really does help! Good luck on future steps and keep it coming, it is nice to see others knee deep in renos to make my life feel normal!

  53. yes, when we first bought our 106 year old house it had layers and layers of wallpaper in most rooms. Flocked wallpaper, lead paint between wallpaper, vinyl wallpaper you name it this house had it. We spent weeks removing wallpaper and damaging some walls. but now it is all gone and the newly skim coated plaster walls look FAB!.. Removing wallpaper is a messy job but somewhat satisfying in the end. It make such a huge difference in the over all look of the room.

  54. wow, good for you for finding and posting the solution! We did not have to deal with any wallpaper in our house, but I know lots of people who do.
    Margo´s last post…Ben’s Job

  55. we had the same problem in our home…we painted over it…filled in the seams with drywall mud, sanded, primed and painted. gorgeous and no one is the wiser that we painted over wallpaper.
    nancy´s last post…Family Photos in the Park

  56. We had the same problem – bought our condo and THEN realized that every wall in the place was covered in 5 layers of wallpaper and several of paint. Even inside the closets. Sigh. We’ve been slowly doing one room at a time, and like your contractor, we found that the best thing to do was soak the paper with warm water. In our case we had to chip away paint in spots first, but we generally went for the seams and top of the wall, and the water worked its way underneath the paint.

  57. Oh, I am SO glad I stumbled upon this post! We’ve renovated several rooms in our current home but are now on the verge of relocating, and I know it’s only a matter of time until we move into a fully wallpapered house. It’s something I’ve always dreaded, and crazily wallpapered homes have actually caused us NOT to buy them. I’ll fear them no longer… ;)
    Malinda´s last post…169:365 – Kitchen White

  58. Our last home had lots of [very ugly] wallpaper. In addition to water in our spray bottle, we put fabric softener. Someone suggested it – it really did seem to help. I never thought of the compression sprayer, but when we sprayed A LOT in one spot it definitely worked better than glossing over a huge area. We actually set our boys ages 4 and 6 to work removing the paper in their bathroom (no problem using lots of water there!) and they had a blast.

  59. oh my WORD that last photo! i still have nightmares from the TEN HOURS it took for me to remove the cheap plasicky border from my childrens’ room that had been applied to wet paint. every tiny piece had to be scraped off…i tried vinegar, water, and fabric softener…the entire house smelled like lavender pickles. we rent, and the kitchen is covered in this mauve paper with ‘summer fruits’….it’s peeling and separating and awful but after that border i just cannot bring myself to touch it. GAH! i’ll have to try the sprayer – if i ever get the nerve to touch that wallpaper that is.

  60. Just today I finished removing wallpaper from unpainted drywall in our dining room. The only thing that worked for me was a steamer, but it was very slow going. We tried the sprayer route, but for some reason only a steamer would work! The paper had almost become part of the drywall, that’s how bad it was. After countless hours, it is done. So, hopefully this will be helpful to someone else who needs a solution! We only had to patch a few spots, as well as wash and sand the walls to remove any glue residue. Now on to priming and painting!

  61. I’m new to this site, and just love it! I’m a lot older than probably most of you, but have been a do-it-yourself decorator for 50 years now!

    My first home as a young married woman was a huge old farmhouse, with the “orignial portion” over a hundred years old. It had a wall-hung drainboard/sink combo with a “curtain” around it. That’s all – no kitchen cabinets at all. But it did have a large walk-in pantry off the covered back porch.

    Bathroom facilities were a toilet in the open basement with an ancient oval pedestal sink and and “industrial shower” faucet on the block wall. Oh, and God help us, a huge old coal-fired furnace.

    We had a full bathroom along with new water and drainage pipes installed in the upstairs with the bedrooms first thing. Thankfully the bedrooms were large enough to wall off a bathroom with plenty of bedroom space left over. An entire new heating system came next, as I could not manage the coal furnace and threatened to go home and live with my parents, taking along our two small children, unless we got a modern heating system installed immediately. We did.

    The original portion of the house had – count them – 15 layers of paper on the walls. We started to try to remove it, encountered 3 layers, then paint, then 4 layers, then paint, etc. We ended up just ripping out the walls and installing new drywall, one room at a time.

    Wallpaper was sold in “books” and could be purchased for as low as 39 cents per single roll. And this was, in fact, paper. None of the later vinyl or vinyl coated stuff. My father, who had learned to hang wallpaper from an uncle who did it for a living, told me that with a coal furnace people would re-paper a room just to clean it up. Because it was such a dirty type of heat that the walls would be darkened and the baseboards would have a fine black grit on them.

    True to his words, when the prior occupants moved out and we went to look at the empty house, you could see a lighter clored area in the shape of whatever hung there on every wall in the house! So my father and I proceeded to immediately re-paper every room in that house, just to clean it up temporarily.

    Obviously, this site has brought back lots of fond memories for me. It is good to see that the younger generation is still out there enthusiastically doing it themselves. Carry on!

  62. I have removed a bunch of wallpaper from my plaster walls in my old farmhouse, and I used your method long before this post. I found that the scoring tools sold in stores for wallpaper removal are the worst thing to use- that is what causes the paper to come off in little bits. I pull off the top layer first, if it is a vinyl, then soak the bottom layer and ease it off with a broad scraper. If it is really old paper, single layer, just a good soak should get it off. It may take a few applications and scrapings to get it all off. Then always prime before painting. Great post! So many wallpaper places give bad advice on how to do this.