How to Remove Wallpaper with Vinegar

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(Image: spray bottle nozzle image by Kathy Burns from Fotolia.com)

Wallpapering a room is never easy work when you have to remove the old wallpaper. Adding harsh chemicals to the mix can make the job even less pleasant and can even exacerbate breathing conditions like asthma. Before you invest in a expensive and pungent chemical wallpaper removers, try creating a solution of white vinegar and water to strip the old paper off the walls.

Things You'll Need

  • sponge
  • hot water
  • paint spatula
  • utility knife
  • bucket
  • vinegar
  • spray bottle
  • enzyme-based adhesive remover (optional)

Removing Strippable Wallpaper

Test to see if your wallpaper is strippable. This would be ideal, because it means the paper peels off easily and you only have to deal with removing the glue that's left behind. Grasp a loose piece of the wallpaper and try to peel it off. If it comes right off without leaving paper behind, it's strippable.

Dampen a sponge with warm water and wipe it across the walls to loosen the paste. This will help the wallpaper peel off in a more uniform manner, making the rest of your job a lot simpler. Wait a few minutes for the paste to absorb the water before peeling the paper.

Remove the old wallpaper. Use a paint spatula to scrape off any stubborn residue, making sure to get the flat edge of the tool underneath the edge of the scrap of wallpaper.

Mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 1 gallon of warm water. Use the sponge or a spray bottle to coat the walls with the solution. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes and sponge it off. This will remove any remaining glue and help to prime your walls for the new wallpaper.

Removing Non-Strippable Wallpaper

Use a utility knife to score the wallpaper. You are trying to allow the moisture in behind the wallpaper to loosen the glue, so don't worry about making too many cuts in the paper. The more scoring, the better.

Spray the walls with very hot water and use the sponge or a paint roller to distribute it evenly across all the paper. Let the walls sit until the wallpaper begins to bubble or peel away from the wall. In some cases, you may need to repeat the application of water before this actually happens.

Use your paint spatula to scrape off as much of the old wallpaper as possible. Use a commercial, enzyme-based wallpaper remove if the adhesive is stubborn. When the wallpaper is stripped and the adhesive is mostly removed, use a damp sponge to wipe down the walls.

Neutralize the walls with a solution of 1 cup white vinegar combined with 1 gallon of water. Spray it on the walls using a spray bottle and spread it with a sponge or paint roller.

Tips & Warnings

  • Scoring the paper involves taking your utility knife and making slashes in a criss-cross fashion over the entire wall.
  • Though vinegar is safer than commercial chemicals, it still has a strong odor. Make sure you are working in a well-ventilated room or have a fan to blow fumes out of the room.
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