How to Remove Painted Wallpaper

painted wallpaper

One of the easiest ways to update the look of old wallpaper is to paint over it. You’ll see this technique used in many older homes, especially when the old-fashioned adhesive that seems to offer a permanent grip is holding it in place.

When paint is over the wallpaper, you’ll need to put in more effort to remove the unwanted material. You might even discover that several layers are on top of the initial paper, requiring new drywall or sheetrock.

If you’re encountering difficulties with painted wallpaper, your locally trusted contractor or handyman might be able to help. Please remember to hire someone who is licensed, insured, and bonded for the best results.

Items You’ll Need to Remove Painted Wallpaper

If you want to DIY the painted wallpaper removal, you’ll need a few items available to complete the job. Most of these tools are available online or at a local hardware store.

  • Wallpaper Steamer
  • Wallpaper Scouring Tool
  • Liquid Wallpaper Stripper
  • Pump Sprayer
  • Scraper
  • Scouring Pads
  • Putty Knife

It usually takes about four to six hours to remove painted wallpaper from an average-sized room completely. If you only need to take care of half of the wall, you can drop the commitment to three to five hours.

That estimate is based on a single layer of paint and one wallpaper addition to the surface you intend to modify. There could be 2-3 wallpapers installed with 3-4 paint layers on top of that to work through in your home.

Steps for Removing Painted Wallpaper from Your Home

When you want to tackle this project yourself, here are the steps to follow so that you can get rid of the unwanted wallpaper with a minimum amount of hassle.

1. Roll the scoring tool over the wallpaper.

You’ll want to start the project by scoring the entire surface with wallpaper underneath the paint. The goal is to get as deep into the unwanted materials as possible so that you can have access to the paper beneath. You’ll want to complete this step over the entire room before proceeding to the next task.

2. Apply the wallpaper stripper.

It helps to mix the wallpaper stripper with hot water to ensure the application proceeds as intended. Some products might have variable instructions, so you’ll want to follow whatever the manufacturer recommends with your preferred item.

In general terms, you’d want to put both products in a 50/50 solution in the pump sprayer to cover all of the surfaces you intend to improve.

3. Allow the wallpaper to soften.

The wallpaper will start softening behind the paint after applying the water/stripper combination. Allow it to continue working based on the manufacturer’s recommendations. It could take 15-30 minutes to achieve enough penetration, and you might need to add a second application if several paint or paper layers exist.

4. Remove the wallpaper.

Use the scraper tool to get rid of the unwanted wallpaper. You’ll want to proceed carefully to reduce the risk of damaging the drywall behind it. If anything doesn’t come up with this effort, you can use the steamer tool to lift the remaining product.

5. Spray the wall with the wallpaper stripper again.

After you’ve steamed the remaining wall sections, apply the stripping agent a second time to eliminate the last bits of unwanted material. You’ll use the scraper a second time to get rid of these items.

6. Scrub the wall clean.

Once all of the wallpaper is gone, you’ll want to give your walls a good cleaning. All you need for this step is a bucket of clean water and the scouring pads. Once everything is washed, you can start removing the softened glue residues that remain.

What to Do After the Wallpaper Is Gone

You might notice some scrapes, dings, or nicks in your drywall after removing the unwanted painted wallpaper.

If these issues exist, you’ll want to repair the wall before creating the new look you want. If the damage is minor, some joint compound that gets sanded should be enough to complete the work.

When there is a hole to patch, small gaps can get fixed with reinforced products that act like drywall tape. You’d need to use some joint compound to even the surface, but it will create a seamless look.

If you have a significant hole to patch, you’ll need to cut the drywall to the studs before inserting the new sheetrock.

Apply the new wallpaper or use one primer coat with two paint topcoats to complete the job.


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