Stripping Wallpaper.  Interior Paint Preparation:

How To Remove Wallpaper


In This Article:

Wallpaper stripper solution is applied to the wall and a special tool is used to rough-up the old wallpaper.

Related Articles:

Skill Level: 1 (Very Basic)

Time Taken: Several Hours

By , Editor


The outer layer of wallpaper in this project had already been peeled away, leaving the paper backing on the wall.

The tools used: ladder, pail, sponge, etc...

DIF liquid wallpaper stripper, by Zinsser. The label describes the product as an enzyme that dissolves wallpaper glue.

The solution was mixed in a pail, about 3 ounces of DIF to a quart of water. The solution was applied with a damp sponge and a small sprayer bottle. The instructions also suggests using a clean garden sprayer.

The solution was allowed to sit for a few minutes and then a putty knife was used to peel away the paper.

The wallpaper practically fell off. This DIF product works better than anything we have used.

After the paper was removed, more solution was applied to the wall, to dissolve the glue residue. After a brief wait, the glue was scraped away with a wide putty knife.

The outlet and switch covers were removed, as well as the return air register for the heating system.

After all the wallpaper was peeled off and the glue residue was scraped away, the wall was rinsed thoroughly with clean water.


A Hassle At The Border 

After soaking in DIF wallpaper removal solution for a half hour, the border was not loosening up very well.

Solution was applied again, with a sprayer bottle.


This tool is made by Zinnser and is called a "Paper Tiger". When it is rolled across the dampened wallpaper the toothed wheels tear at the paper.

The toothed wheels (red arrows) are set on an angle so they pinch the wallpaper as it rolls.

Wallpaper removal tool.


The Paper Tiger leaves little tear marks in the wallpaper. After being soaked with solution again, the holes absorb some liquid.

A small putty knife was used to lift up an edge.


This wallpaper border came off in little shreds.

When the outer, glossy layer had been peeled away, the paper was soaked again and a wide putty knife was used to scrape it away.

The outer layer seemed to be impenetrable to the wallpaper removal solution, which perhaps is a consequence of a higher quality wall covering. Once the outer layer was removed the remaining paper came off quickly.

After the paper backing was removed the glue residue was scraped away as before, and the wall was rinsed with clean water. Twenty feet of six-inch border took almost three hours to remove, because the outer layer of paper ripped away in little fragments.

The Paper Tiger may have made this worse by creating weak perforations, but it certainly allowed for liquid wallpaper stripper to penetrate into the backing and dissolve some of the glue. The DIF stripper was very fast acting and is an excellent product.  Zinsser also makes a device called a Paper Scraper, (which we did not have at the time of this project) that holds a sharp blade at a precise 12 degree angle to the wall, reducing the risk of tearing the drywall's paper surface.


Additional Resources:

Wm. Zinsser & Co. has a very impressive line of products for wallpaper and paint preparation. We recommend visiting their website for more product information.



Tools Used:

  • Step Ladder
  • Scraper, Putty Knife
  • "Paper Tiger" Tool
  • Liquid Wallpaper Stripper
  • Sponge, Pail

Materials Used:

  • Wallpaper Stripper
  • Water


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Copyright © 1999, 2005

Written September 28, 1999
Revised January 12, 2005