How to Remove Wallpaper Murals

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Contemporary design awaits at the end of the mural.
Contemporary design awaits at the end of the mural. (Image: Jon Feingersh Photography Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images)

Wallpaper murals were once trendy and hip. Sadly, today they only tend to make a space look dated. If you're living in a home that still features bold wallpaper murals of picket fences, Tuscan windows or even deer standing in a field, it's time to say goodbye to 1980. Your walls are your canvas, but they can't reflect your enlightened and contemporary design ideas until those dated murals come down. Happily, they're relatively easy to remove.

Mural or Decal

The first step in removing your mural without damaging your wall is to determine whether it truly is a mural or just an oversized press-on decal, which is much easier to take down. Decals are typically made of vinyl, and they often use the color of the wall as their background color. If you're dealing with a vinyl decal, simply slide a putty knife under a corner and peel it slowly off the wall. If you try this with a design you're attempting to remove, and you come up with torn paper, it's a wallpaper mural. Proceed to the next step.

Prepare Your Space

Your next chore is to prepare your space for wallpaper removal, which can be a messy proposition. Cover furniture and belongings with sheets to protect them from dust and spread a dropcloth over carpets. Collect the tools you'll need to remove wallpaper: a scoring tool, spray bottle and putty knife. It's a good idea to have a few old rags on hand as well. If your mural encompasses an outlet, turn off the power to the room and remove the switch-plate cover.

Score and Saturate the Mural

With a scoring tool, perforate the entire mural, making vertical or horizontal strokes, using care to not score the wall behind the mural. The perforation allows the wet solution to saturate and loosen the adhesive. Fill a spray bottle with wallpaper-remover solution; buy this in the wallpaper aisle of your local home improvement store, or mix up your own using 1 quart of hot water and a full cap of fabric softener. Spray the solution on the mural and allow a few minutes for it to saturate the glue. Avoid spraying solution into outlets.

Peel and Scrape the Wall

Begin at a bottom corner of your mural and peel up. If all goes according to plan, the paper should peel away in strips. A putty knife is an invaluable tool to help you scrape and peel during this step. Once you've removed all traces of the mural, you should only have to wipe your wall down with warm, soapy water to remove any sticky residue. If the mural was stubborn and removing it involved scratching or denting your drywall, you may need to allow the wall to dry completely and then apply putty to repair any flaws before re-painting.

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