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How to Remove Wallpaper the Easy Way (Without Chemicals)

Removing wallpaper doesn’t have to be painful! Learn how to remove wallpaper the easy way with this simple tutorial. No chemicals, no stress, and a fresh clean wall.

wall after removing wallpaper

I know that photo of a blank white wall up above doesn’t look like much, but it’s actually the result of a few hours of hard work! Figuring out how to remove wallpaper can be an adventure, and I’m here to walk you through it.

Removing wallpaper is notoriously annoying, but it doesn’t have to be difficult! With a few easy tips you can create a fresh, clean wall and have a blank slate to decorate something new.

Psst — be sure to check out these other home decor hacks and ideas to add to your list! Pin your favorites so you can find them again easily.

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Deciding to Remove Wallpaper

When we added wallpaper to a couple of rooms in our home, I was so excited to bring that pop of color and pattern into the space! I still stand by the decision to add it.

That being said, I know that I’m a person who likes to change things up fairly frequently, and it was time for a change in Maggie’s Room.

Before you add wallpaper to a room, it’s good to think about how long you’ll want to have it up. In my opinion, if you think you’ll love it for at least a few years, it’s definitely worth it. However, if you like to switch things up annually, you might consider removable wallpaper rather than wallpaper that uses adhesive.

Below you can see a photo of the wall once we pulled away the top layer of the paper, with the bottom layer remaining.

how to remove wallpaper

Can you Paint Over Wallpaper?

I’ve been here, too! When I moved into this house, there was some old school wallpaper in the kitchen that was clearly not coming off any time soon.

Because of time constraints, we made the decision to paint over it rather than remove it. And the outcome was pretty decent.

When you paint over wallpaper, be sure to consider the wallpaper’s texture. While the pattern won’t show through paint, the texture definitely will. So will any seams.

So be sure that you’ll be okay with the texture of that paper showing in the space.

Here’s an image of Maggie’s room after we scraped the paper off, but without a fresh coat of paint.

wall after removing wallpaper

Supplies You’ll NEed

But let’s talk about how to remove wallpaper that you no longer want! You’ll need a few tools, some patience, and some elbow grease.

Rigid scraper tool. Find a scraper that’s rigid enough to hold its shape while you scrape the paper from the wall. I like to use one that’s between 3″ and 5″ wide.

Spray bottle. You’ll fill the spray bottle with hot water to help remove the wallpaper. If you have an extra large area, a pressurized garden pump sprayer works very well.

Washcloth or sponge. A washcloth or sponge with a bit of texture to it helps to scrub and remove any little bits of residue that may be left on the wall after scraping the paper off.

Warm water. Tap water works perfectly!

How To Remove Wallpaper Without Added Chemicals

  1. Lay down a dropcloth or floor covering under the area where you’ll be removing wallpaper. This serves to catch the wallpaper scraps and any water that falls as you dampen the area.
  2. Start by testing a corner of your wallpaper and pulling it gently away from the wall. You may need to use the scraper to gently pry a strip of wallpaper up off the wall. If you’re lucky, it will come off easily and bring most of the paper with it. If not, you’ll find that you can pull away the top layer of the wallpaper (the layer with the pattern on it) and that it leaves the paper layer stuck to the wall. Never fear!
  3. If you like, you can use a wallpaper scoring tool to gently perforate the wallpaper so that when you apply water, the water will better penetrate the paper and begin to dissolve the adhesive. I didn’t do this step because we were able to pull the top layer up fairly easily. But if your wallpaper is stubborn and you can’t pull it up, definitely try a scoring tool.
  4. At this point, you’ll need to dampen the walls to be able to scrape off the paper. Warm water helps to penetrate the paper, soften the adhesive, and loosen the bond so that you can scrape it off. Lots of tutorials recommend adding something to the water (fabric softener, vinegar, wallpaper stripper liquid, etc.), but I wanted to try without adding any further ingredients. The secret I found to work best is to just make sure your water is nice and hot, and let it soak for about 5 minutes before you try to scrape.
  5. Fill a spray bottle with hot water (hot from the tap works perfectly). Spray an area of the wall so that it’s completely damp. Allow to sit and soak for about 5 minutes.
  6. Use your rigid scraper to scrape large swaths of paper off of the wall. If you find that it’s still stubborn, dampen again slightly and wait a couple more minutes.
  7. Once the entire area is scraped, follow with a warm wet cloth or sponge to wipe away any specks or residue.
how to remove wallpaper
how to remove wallpaper
sprayed wallpaper
how to remove wallpaper
wiping wallpaper residue off wall

Before and AFter photos

I love a good before and after, so check out these before and after photos of Maggie’s room!

wallpaper before removing
how to remove wallpaper

We’re planning another idea for her walls that’s in the works, so stay tuned for those ideas!

Hope this post helps you understand a bit more about how to remove wallpaper! I love that it doesn’t necessarily take any extra chemicals or materials. If you try and love the tutorial, be sure to rate it below. xoxo

how to remove wallpaper

How to Remove Wallpaper

Yield: Wallpaper Removal
Active Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours
Difficulty: Intermediate
Estimated Cost: $10

Removing wallpaper doesn't have to be painful! Learn how to remove
wallpaper the easy way with this simple tutorial. No chemicals, no
stress, and a fresh clean wall.

Materials

  • Wall with wallpaper
  • Warm water
  • Washcloth or sponge

Tools

  • Rigid scraper
  • Optional: wallpaper scoring tool

Instructions

  1. Lay down a dropcloth or floor covering under the area where you'll be removing wallpaper. This serves to catch the wallpaper scraps and any water that falls as you dampen the area.
  2. Start by testing a corner of your wallpaper and pulling it gently away from the wall. You may need to use the scraper to gently pry a strip of wallpaper up off the wall. If you're lucky, it will come off easily and bring most of the paper with it. If not, you'll find that you can pull away the top layer of the wallpaper (the layer with the pattern on it) and that it leaves the paper layer stuck to the wall. Never fear!
  3. If you like, you can use a wallpaper scoring tool to gently perforate the wallpaper so that when you apply water, the water will better penetrate the paper and begin to dissolve the adhesive. I didn't do this step because we were able to pull the top layer up fairly easily. But if your wallpaper is stubborn and you can't pull it up, definitely try a scoring tool.
  4. At this point, you'll need to dampen the walls to be able to scrape off the paper. Warm water helps to penetrate the paper, soften the adhesive, and loosen the bond so that you can scrape it off. Lots of tutorials recommend adding something to the water (fabric softener, vinegar, etc.), but I wanted to try without adding any further ingredients. The secret I found to work best is to just make sure your water is nice and hot, and let it soak for about 5 minutes before you try to scrape.
  5. Fill a spray bottle with hot water (hot from the tap works perfectly). Spray an area of the wall so that it's completely damp. Allow to sit and soak for about 5 minutes.
  6. Use your rigid scraper to scrape large swaths of paper off of the wall. If you find that it's still stubborn, dampen again slightly and wait a couple more minutes.
  7. Once the entire area is scraped, follow with a warm wet cloth or sponge to wipe away any specks or residue.

Notes

You can also paint over wallpaper! When I moved into this house, there was some old school wallpaper in the kitchen that was clearly not coming off any time soon.

Because of time constraints, we made the decision to paint over it rather than remove it. And the outcome was pretty decent.

When you paint over wallpaper, be sure to consider the wallpaper's texture. While the pattern won't show through paint, the texture definitely will. So will any seams.

So be sure that you'll be okay with the texture of that paper showing in the space.

This post also contains affiliate links for your convenience. This means that I receive a small commission should you make a purchase via one of these links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you as always for your support!

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