Wall Paper Removal Tools
- There's a time for every wallpaper to go.Abbruchhaus image by Angelika Bentin from Fotolia.com
Wallpaper products have improved through the years, and modern papers are easier to hang and remove. If you are lucky, the wallpaper you want to remove is self-strippable and will require little effort to peel off the wall. If it isn't, removing the paper can be time-consuming and messy. You'll need a few basic tools to remove most papers, but others may require extra ones.
- Strippers are used to soften the wallpaper glue so the paper is more easily removed. Most strippers require a waiting time of 15 to 30 minutes to penetrate the paper and soften the glue. A simple homemade stripper is a solution of warm water and detergent or vinegar. Commercial strippers are non-toxic alternatives that work faster. Enzyme-based strippers work best. Strippers can be brushed or sprayed on; for large jobs, apply the stripper with a paint roller or garden sprayer.
- A hand-held wallpaper scoring tool has a rotating gear filled with spikes. When you glide it over the wallpapered surface with moderate pressure, the spikes pierce the paper, allowing the stripper to penetrate more easily. This tool is especially useful on vinyl-coated wallpaper, which must be scored for the stripper to penetrate. Scoring tools are inexpensive and available at most hardware stores.
- A steamer is a heavy-duty alternative to chemical wallpaper strippers. It basically is a hot plate with a hose connected to a reservoir of water. You place the steamer flat on the wall until it softens the wallpaper and makes it bubble out, allowing you to scrape off the paper. The steamer is moved around the wall, until all areas are softened and scraped. You must use caution when using a steamer on drywall, because the heat and moisture can damage the drywall paper underneath the wallpaper glue. The steamer can drip hot water, so it's recommended to protect your hands with household gloves.
- Wallpaper scrapers are similar to paint scrapers, but they are wider and have a preset blade angle that allows you to attack the wallpaper from a very low angle. A scraper allows you to scrape off large amounts of paper at one time. You can buy a wallpaper scraper at hardware or paint stores. An alternative is using a sharpened paint scraper, but this tool requires careful use so it doesn't dig into the wallboard surface.
- After most of the paper is gone, you'll need to clean glue residue and small bits of paper off the wall. A warm-water solution of soap, vinegar or trisodium phosphate (TSP) sponged onto the wall will remove most of it. TSP is mildly caustic, so household gloves are recommended to avoid irritating your hands. Any stubborn bits of paper can be removed with 120-grit sandpaper after the wall has dried.