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How to Remove Wallpaper from Drywall | DIY

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Today I am sharing tips for one of the best money-saving DIYs – how to remove wallpaper from drywall! I have removed wallpaper from dozens and can’t wait to share all of my tips and tricks for you to try at home.

Follow this easy tutorial to quickly remove wallpaper and prep your space for paint | Building Bluebird
#diy #homerenovation #wallpaperremoval

As a realtor, house flipper, and homeowner, I have seen SO MANY people scared away from houses with dated wallpaper. When you learn how to remove wallpaper correctly, it is much less intimidating and pretty easy.

Let’s get started!

How to Remove Wallpaper from Drywall & the Best Tools

*This home improvement post is sponsored by Trimaco. All content and opinions are my own. Affiliate links used in this blog post, thank you for supporting Building Bluebird! For a complete list of products used for this DIY, scroll to the bottom of the post.

My latest home project is removing the wallpaper from our master bathroom to give it a mini-makeover.

Original 1960's master bathroom with peeling wallpaper | Building Bluebird
Original master bathroom

The bathroom has retro blue shower tiles and even matching blue sinks! My goal is to give our bathroom a modern update without a major renovation. Removing the wallpaper and adding a fresh coat of paint on the walls will completely change the vibe in this space.

Removing wallpaper can update a room and is an affordable and easy DIY to try at home | Building Bluebird
Original bathroom

1 | Protect Floors & Surfaces

Before removing any wallpaper, it is important to protect the floors and surfaces in a room. The Stay Put Canvas is a great dropcloth that is slip-proof and provides moisture protection. The canvas has a thin layer of plastic to prevent any leaks and a layer of rubber on the bottom to keep prevent slipping.

The best tools to use when removing wallpaper - Stay Put dropcloth | Building Bluebird

The easiest way to remove wallpaper from drywall (especially unprimed) is by using a steamer. While it may be the easiest way, it is not the cleanest. The walls and wallpaper strips you remove will be wet and sticky, so proper protection of your floors is imperative

The best tools to use when removing wallpaper from drywall | Building Bluebird

Next, I used Trimaco’s toilet cover to prevent any glue from sticking to the toilet. This protective cover is great for when I paint the walls and I can reuse it in our other bathrooms.

Use a toilet cover when removing wallpaper or painting your bathroom | Building Bluebird

2 | Remove Everything Attached to the Walls

Once the surfaces have been covered, take off everything attached to the walls. This includes items like outlet covers, towel racks, and nails for artwork. A screwdriver (electric or manual) and hammer (to remove nails) are important to complete this step. Eliminating these barriers will allow you to easily and quickly take down the wallpaper attached to the drywall.

Remove any attached items from the walls before removing the wallpaper | Building Bluebird

3 | Remove Wallpaper Using a Steamer

A wallpaper steamer is the most important tool you need when removing wallpaper from drywall. Wallpaper steamers can be purchased or rented at your local hardware store. If you have more than one room that requires wallpaper removal, I recommend purchasing your own.

How to use a wallpaper steamer | Building Bluebird #diy

Once the wallpaper steamer is filled with water and it begins to heat up, you will prep the wallpaper. Roll a scoring tool across the wallpaper to create small holes on the paper. This allows the steam to penetrate the top layer of wallpaper and reactivate the glue.

This step is particularly important for wallpaper hung in bathrooms because it is usually a vinyl material. Vinyl is thicker, more durable, and designed to withstand higher moisture areas. I will also pull off the top layer of wallpaper if it is beginning to curl and peel.

The best tools and tips to easily remove wallpaper  | Building Bluebird

When the steamer is ready, place it on the wall and allow it to saturate for 5-10 seconds. Move the steamer to another spot on the wall with one hand and with our other hand, use your larger putty knife to scrape off the saturated wallpaper. Don’t press too hard as your scrape, as the scraper can damage the drywall.

How to easily remove wallpaper using a steamer | Building Bluebird
#homerenovation #bathroommakeover #diy

As you move across the wall, your scraper will get sticky from the glue. Keep a cloth rag on hand to wipe the glue off of your scraper. I like to scrape the blank walls one more time after I pull off the wallpaper to remove as much of the glue as possible.

The best tools to use when removing wallpaper in your home | Building Bluebird
Using my Trimaco rag to wipe glue off of the scraper

Removing Wallpaper from Tight Corners

There will be some areas in a room that the steamer cannot reach. This is where the spray bottle of wallpaper remover and the smaller putty knife come in. Saturate the wallpaper with the spray and scrape it off of the wall with the putty knife.

How to quickly easily remove wallpaper on your own | Building Bluebird

If you can’t remove the toilet, it is a challenge to reach this area with a steamer. The spray bottle and small scraper work really well around a toilet and outlets close to door jams.

4 | Remove Remaining Wallpaper Glue

Remove remaining glue on the walls with a bucket, TSP and a sponge.

How to remove wallpaper glue from your walls | Building Bluebird
TSP solution to clean the walls

When you begin wiping with a sponge, the glue will feel slippery on the walls. As you continue to scrub and the glue is roomed, the wall will feel less slippery and the glue is removed. After scrubbing the walls, I use my cloth rag to wipe the wall dry and remove any lasting glue from the wall.

Another Option for Removing the Glue

There are some instances where you may not want to wash the walls to remove the glue. For example, the wallpaper in our vaulted ceiling foyer was installed on primed walls, so we could remove entire strips of wallpaper without a steamer. Unfortunately, the wallpaper glue was still on the walls and I did not want to rent scaffolding to scrub it all off.

Standard interior latex paint is water-based and will reactivate glue if it is applied directly to the walls. To prevent a gummy mess when the glue and paint mixed together, I applied an oil-based primer that covers the glue. Oil-based paint is very smelly, so ventilate the room as best as you can. Once the glue is covered, you can apply standard interior paint/

Have you ever painted latex paint over oil-based paint? Check out my tips on how to fix this mistake when it happens!

5 | Fill Any Holes & Sand the Walls

Once the wallpaper is removed and the walls are cleaned, fill any holes with drywall spackle and let it dry.

After removing wallpaper, fill any holes with spackle to prep the walls for paint | Building Bluebird

Use a sanding block to smooth out the walls and use a damp rag to remove any dust on the drywall.

After removing wallpaper, fill any holes and sand the walls before painting | Building Bluebird

6 | Clean Up

Toss the wallpaper strips into a garbage bag and shake out the dropcloth outside. Put your tools away, remove the toilet protector, and fold up the canvas drop cloth to be ready for your next home project.

With the wallpaper removed from the drywall, you now have a blank canvas to paint the walls any color you want! Once your walls are painted, don’t forget to re-install outlet covers, towel racks, and hang beautiful artwork to finish the space.

For our bathroom, I chose to paint the walls Snowbound by Sherwin Williams. The neutral palette allows the retro blue tiles and sinks to be the focal point and really stand out.

The best tools and tips to easily remove wallpaper from drywall  | Building Bluebird
Affordable bathroom refresh by removing wallpaper and painting the walls | Building Bluebird #bluetiles #vintagebathroom

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you remove wallpaper without damaging the wall?

Absolutely! By using the proper tools, you can easily remove wallpaper without damaging the drywall. A scraper specifically made for removing wallpaper is helpful to prevent gauges when scraping off the paper.

How do you clean walls after removing wallpaper?

In this blog post, I discussed cleaning the walls using a TSP solution, but it is not the only way to clean your walls. If want a homemade cleaner that is free of chemicals, mixing dish soap, baking soda, and vinegar is a safe cleaner that works as well.

Can you use a clothes steamer to remove wallpaper?

Absolutely! I have not personally used this method, but I have seen others use it effectively. When considering efficiency, wallpaper steamers are going to be better than clothes steamers because they are designed for removing strips of wallpaper. If you have a small patch of wallpaper that needs to be removed, a clothes steamer can get the job done. If you have a large room with wallpaper, use an actual wallpaper steamer.

How long does it take to remove wallpaper with a steamer?

It depends on the size of the room. I place the steamer on a section for 5-10 seconds to saturate the paper and then use a scraper to detach it from the wall. Steamers specifically made for wallpaper removal are designed to trap the steam against the paper and saturate it as fast as possible. This is why wallpaper steamers are a better option than a clothes steamer.

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