DIY: Remove and Installing Wallpaper

By Cheryl Reed

August 24, 2013 4 min read

If you want to quickly update a room and express your personality, look no further than wallpaper. Paint is a great way to freshen a room, but it doesn't easily match wallpaper's ability to add instant drama and texture.

Our researchers recently checked in with wallpaper experts who are highly rated by members of Angie's List. The pros say wallpaper has made a comeback in recent years, and they point to a couple of trends:

— Repeat patterns and vibrant colors such as greens and slate blues.

— Wallpaper with images that reflect personal interests, such as dogs, bicycles or travel destinations.

If you've decided wallpaper is for you, the next step is determining if you'll do the work yourself. If you go DIY, be aware that it's easy to damage drywall or wallboard when removing wallpaper. Our experts recommend this method for removing paper:

— Mix wallpaper remover with hot water, following container instructions, and a half-cup of fabric softener in a 1-gallon sprayer. From top to bottom, spray one paper section at a time, and let it sit at least 15 minutes, keeping the area moist.

— To start to remove paper, use a 4-inch scraper, top to bottom, keeping the tool flat to the wall to avoid gouges. Peel by hand once you get started, avoiding the scraper if possible.

— Remove glue, which may be hard to see, with scraper, brush or even steel wool. If you find another paper layer, repeat earlier steps. — Once paper is off, spray walls again, and use scraper or plastic scrub brush to wash walls and remove remaining glue. Then, use a sponge to wash walls with a household cleaning solution.

To be sure all residue is gone, mix a quart of water and an ounce of povidone-iodine. Spray on the wall; watch for purple spots that indicate residue. Remove, and let the wall dry overnight.

Here are our expert-recommended tips for applying paper to walls that are clean and dry, with cracks filled and sanded:

— Apply primer. As it dries, cut paper sheets about 4 inches larger than the height of the area to be papered. Check for irregularities; lay flat and face down. Use a paint roller to apply wallpaper paste to the back of the paper; don't get paste on the surface below.

— Without applying pressure or creasing, "book" paper by folding ends inward and then onto the paper itself to allow paste to evenly absorb. Make sure sheet lies flat, and let soak for time recommended on paste label.

— Be sure to correctly line up the first strip; all others will be based on it. Start near a door and corner. Leave about 2 inches of overlap on the ceiling, and about an eighth of an inch on the corner. Press gently, and let booked paper fall from ceiling to floor. (Paper is hanging straight if parallel with door.)

— Tuck with a paper smoother. With knife, cut excess; use a level to mark cutline.

— Use a seam roller to press seams closed. Check periodically to verify you're evenly closing seam. Once finished, smooth out the wallpaper.

— Repeat process around the room, using paper smoother to keep wallpaper even and remove bubbles. If glue seeps out, wipe gently with slightly damp sponge.

Wallpapering can be an onerous job. There are many reasons to consider hiring a professional, who can deal with such common problems as pattern matching, visible seams and curving walls.

Before you hire, get multiple bids, check references and confirm that the company you hire is properly licensed and insured.

Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie's List, the nation's most trusted resource for local consumer reviews on everything from home repair to health care. To find out more about Angie Hicks and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at

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