How to Remove a Wallpaper Border
What You Need to Remove Wallpaper Borders
Removing outdated wallpaper is a great way to update a room or home. While it's fairly easy to cut out the main sections, reaching the borders can present an additional challenge.
The supplies you'll need for this project are:
How to Remove Wallpaper Borders
1. Prep the Walls: Always start from the seams. Work in small sections (about 1-2 feet) and peel off as much of the border as you can by hand from one seam to the next. Skip this step if the border will not come off by hand.
2. Score Circles: Use the scoring tool to cut little circles in the wallpaper border. Try not to push the tool too deeply into the wall or you may leave marks. Make the circles overlap each other.
3. Prep the Solution: Prepare a solution of fabric softener and water in a clean spray bottle. I use a 50/50 mix of softener and water, but you can use less softener if you have paper borders. If the borders are plastic coated or have been on the wall a long time, you may need more softener.
4. Soak It Up: Fill a bucket half full with warm soapy water and place your sponge/rag into the bucket.
5. Spray the Wall: Spray the softener water mix into the little holes you created with the scoring tool.
6. Wipe It In: Use a sponge or rag to soak up the liquid that drips down the wall and smear it into the border.
7. Start Peeling: Allow the liquid to soak into the board for at least five to ten minutes and then start peeling. Try to peel first with your hands by grabbing a loose seam or corner. Peel off what you can and spray more liquid onto the additional layers.
8. Scrape It Off: Once you have peeled away all that you can with your hands, start using your scrapper/putty knife to remove the rest. Be careful not to damage the wall while scrapping.
9. Wipe the Wall: Use a sponge or rag to fully clean the wall before you move onto the next section.
10. Clean Things Up: It's a good idea to immediately put the wallpaper you remove into a garbage bag before moving onto the next section. If the wet paper is left on the floor, it can dry on your carpeting and damage the floor.
Alternative Methods and Materials
The steps I laid out worked with great success and should work well for you. However, you can also use a rolling method with a paint roller or sponge if you prefer not to use the spray bottle. The idea you need to keep in mind is that the wallpaper is attached to the wall with glue, and that glue needs to be broken down and removed before repainting or putting up new wallpaper.
The key is to make sure the liquid soaks into the glue to dissolve both the glue and paper. The scoring tool helps the solution reach the glue. If you've already removed the wallpaper layer, it's easy to spray the paper/glue layer directly. It's usually not that easy. Once the paper is scored, it can be sprayed with any of the following mixtures:
- Commercial wallpaper removal solution
- Water and liquid fabric softener
- Warm soapy water (Dawn dish detergent works well)
- Water and vinegar
- Vinegar and liquid fabric softener
Whether the mixture is sprayed, rolled, or sponged on, it usually needs to soak into the paper and the glue for 10-15 minutes before scrapping or scrubbing the paper off. You should work in sections of one to two feet and plan on it taking more than 20 minutes per foot of wallpaper border. If you do not want to put in the time to remove the border, you can pay someone to do it. However, the money you can save by doing it yourself will mean more funds to spend on new décor.
Patching and Preparing Walls for Painting
What to Do After the Wallpaper Border is Removed
Once the wallpaper and borders are removed, you have the option to paint or apply new wallpaper. Painting can be cheaper and easier to change, but wallpaper can add more visual interest to a room. You can add vinyl wall stickers and decals to add a pop of fun and easily peel them off if they no longer work with the space.
Whether you decide to use wallpaper, paint, or vinyl wall decals, you will need to clean, patch, and repair the wall before redecorating. The video above shows how to do simple patching and repairing. If you want to learn from professionals, you can attend free workshops offered by many home improvement stores. Although removing wallpaper borders can take a while, you'll be glad you invested the time and effort to update your room.