How to Remove a Wallpaper Border

Updated on November 30, 2017

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Removing outdated wallpaper is a great way to update a room or home.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:

  • Wallpaper scoring tool
  • Liquid fabric softener
  • Spray bottle
  • Sponge/rags
  • Bucket
  • Plastic scraper/putty knife
  • Garbage bag/trash can
  • Ladder/step stool

Move the scoring tool around in circular motions. Don't press down too hard!
Move the scoring tool around in circular motions. Don't press down too hard! | Source

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.

Spray the mixture into the little circles on the wallpaper border.
Spray the mixture into the little circles on the wallpaper border. | Source

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 d├ęcor.

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.

Now It's Your Turn!

Would You Try Removing Wallpaper With This Method?

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    • profile image

      Simon Iseppi 21 months ago

      I have to be honest but consulting an expert and making them do it is much better than doing it alone (not unless you are used on doing it). It is because of the nature of the job that must be executed accordingly. You can either choose between Sears, K-Mart, Lowe's, Wakefield Painting Systems, K-mart and a lot more.

    • RHeat profile image

      Rob Heat 3 years ago from FL

      Very Helpful. Thanks for the article

    • chrissieklinger profile image

      chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Some people do use things they shouldn't to hang border and wallpaper. My bathroom border has been the hardest to remove out of all the border I have dealt with. Our one house had a whole room wallpapered and it came off super easy and then this bathroom border I have been working on is taking forever. It is coming off but in small sections. Other borders I dealt with came off in larger sections. I have seen some houses where they have layers of wallpaper and paint and people just put up all new drywall. I really have no interest to put any more border in my house, I am all for painting to add interest!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      In our previous house the people that we bought it from had put up a border in their baby's room, but they did not use anything we could remove, even with these tricks. To this day I think they used superglue. We ended up having to paint over it and prime and then paint the wall. This is one of my least favorite things to do, but your hub is helpful if I ever need to again.

    • chrissieklinger profile image

      chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I am so glad to hear you found this easier method. Hairdryer method sounds like a pain in the butt anyway. Another nice thing about the fabric softener is that the whole room smells so nice while you are doing it :)

    • chrissieklinger profile image

      chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      HAHA! Robie, the border I removed has been there since we bought the house but then after spending so long removing it I looked at the kitchen border ( I put in) and thought.....hmmmm, maybe I just need to be done with border all together! It was really popular at one time but I think painting techniques are more popular now.

    • chrissieklinger profile image

      chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      She better clear her schedule, it takes awhile but if she can get a few people to help it is much better!

    • Robie Benve profile image

      Robie Benve 4 years ago from Ohio

      Reading this reminded me of how ugly the border in my powder room must look to guests... sometimes you get so used to things you see everyday that you forget the first impression.

      May have to try this soon, thanks! :)

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      My sister needs to read this, she has a few rooms she wants to re-do the wallpaper. I'll send it to her. Great tips, thanks. (I don't have papered walls!)

      Voting and sharing.

    • chrissieklinger profile image

      chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I need a young, strong and tall teenager to come get all the border off, it kills your arms! Maybe a project for your grandkids if they get bored over the summer???????

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Same as Chrissie - I've got what's left of a order in the tub area to get rid of. Just what I needed!

    • chrissieklinger profile image

      chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I have been working on removing the bathroom border whenever a have a few hours here and there and I really wish I had a week to just get it done. Pinterest is a great place to get DIY ideas when you are ready to do some projects :)

    • chrissieklinger profile image

      chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Removing wallpaper is not fun but this method works and when its all done you will be so happy!

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 4 years ago from UK

      I'll have a couple of weeks off work soon and there are a few DIY jobs to do - this could come in useful!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have some wallpaper in my bedroom that I plan on removing soon and will try your method. Thanks for sharing!