As a homeowner, chances are you will need to remove wallpaper or wallpaper borders at some point. There are plenty of harsh—and expensive—chemical solvents to help remove wallpaper. At home improvement stores, bottles of the solvent start at about $19.00. That seems like too much money to get rid of something ugly. I found two effective and frugal methods to remove unsightly, peeling wallpaper (the previous owners of our home loved the stuff).
Prepare the Room
This is not a clean project, but a few simple steps will reduce the mess. If the entire wall is covered in wallpaper, move everything away from the walls or out of the room so you have plenty of space to work. Remove electrical switch plates and outlet covers. Protect the floor with a plastic drop cloth and lay newspaper over that. This keeps you from slipping on the wet plastic and makes cleanup a breeze.
Tug at a loose seam or corner of the wallpaper. If the wallpaper is vinyl, you will need to remove the outer layer and expose the paper backing. If the top, printed layer will not come off, use a scoring tool on the entire surface. Use a circular motion to score the wallpaper but be careful to not use too much force. The goal is to allow the remover solution to penetrate down to the adhesive.
Mix the Solution
Option 1: Mix 4 cups of liquid fabric softener (any brand) with 1 gallon of hot water. Mix well.
Option 2: Combine 2 cups of white vinegar with 1 gallon of hot water. Mix well.
Pour the solution into a spray bottle or garden pump sprayer. Wear protective eyeglasses, and spray a manageable area of wallpaper with the mixture. Allow it to stand for at least 10 minutes. While you wait, keep the wall moist with the stripping solution.
Use a 4-inch wide, flat-blade putty knife to scrape off the wallpaper and paste. Find flat blade putty knives in the paint section of your hardware store. A smaller size comes in handy around obstacles and in corners. Let the mess fall to the drop cloths. When you are finished, simply fold up the drop cloth and dispose of it.
Once all the wallpaper is off the wall, make sure all the adhesive residue is removed. Lightly re-spray the wall with the stripping solution and wipe with a scrubbing sponge. This removes any residual glue. Allow the wall to dry completely before fixing damage to the drywall. Always use a primer before re-wallpapering or painting.