Every remodeling project eventually involves removing wallpaper glue (paste residue) along with the wallpaper itself.

Also, others may find that they need the wallpaper painting page to help with painting over their un-removable wallpaper.

women removing wallpaper, glue or paste

I myself don't recommend painting wallpaper. For some, depending on the situation, it might be the easiest or cheapest alternative.

Keep in mind though that certain types of glue may not be readily scraped away and can require power sanding or skim coating.

Skim coating involves a wide drywall knife or trowel along with drywalling mud and a wall skimming procedure to repair the surface or glued area.

After the mud dries it's sanded flush and level with the wall.

Below you will find how to advice regarding wallpaper stripping and the process of removing wallpaper glue or paste residue.


Whenever possible it's a good idea to remove wallpaper rather than painting over it. By stripping away your old wallpaper along with removing wallpaper glue glue you will end up with the best surface to apply a paint coating onto.

removing wallpaper Painted wallpaper can also cause problems that end up giving you more grief than removing the paper in the first place.

With that said, there are situations where painting wallpaper is the only re-course you have. Why would I say that? Well, it's because removing wallpaper is, in my opinion, always a gamble.

Sometimes wallpaper virtually slides right off the wall. At other times it's as if the wallpaper has been attached with super glue.

If your wallpaper's impossible to remove and the paper has little or no surface texture (feel it) then painting the paper would be your best bet.

Removed wallpaper that leaves behind chunks of paper and excessive wallpaper adhesive (or paste) in most cases needs re-boarding (new sheet-rock/drywall), texturing or in the very least skim coating.


Before beginning your wallpaper removal project talk to local paint or wallpaper dealers regarding tools, products, materials and advice that would best work for the job at hand.

  • Roller (cage) and a low nap roller cover (sleeve)
  • Extension pole
  • Wallpaper scraper or wide drywall knife
  • Large garbage can (with bags)
  • Drop cloths
  • Sponge sander
  • Sand paper (80, 100, 120 grit)
  • Pole sander
  • Paintable caulking (and gun)
  • Drywall mud & knife (to fill holes)
  • Top quality primer & paint

In a large paint tray, mix 1 cup of vinegar to 1 gallon of hot water, smaller trays would need proportionately less water and vineger. You may not require all of the tools above. Choose the ones that work best for your specific task.


First up, do a test to see how easy your wallpaper is going to come off. Start by finding the most inconspicuous (hidden) place to do the test on. Testing areas should be close to the floor, if possible, and next to a wallpaper seam.

For those of you who have wallpaper in a closet (shelves for instance) and the wallpaper looks like the walls then your closet would be the best place to begin your test.

Once you've found a test spot place drop cloths or old bed sheets on the floor just below your testing area. Bunch your drop cloth against the baseboards to collect water as it rolls down your walls.

Keep in mind, the better placed and more absorbent your drop cloths are the less water you will need for cleaning up. Another drop cloth is also necessary to go under your water filled paint tray.

Using your tray full of hot vinegar water wet the roller cover. With the cover damp, roll a small area of wallpaper close to a seam in the same fashion as you would if you where painting the walls. Let your wet paper sit for a few minutes (5 to 10) then roll the wallpaper again.

You should be able to see a change in the papers coloring (usually gets darker). With a wide drywall knife (3" to 6") and starting at the seam gently removing wallpaper glue and the wet wallpaper.

mom and kids removing wallpaper

Vinyl wallpapers usually start to come off at the top layer first. As the top layer is removed pull the vinyl away then roll hot water onto the paper that's still stuck to the wall. Now, let your water sit and soak into the stuck on paper.

Once your water absorbs into the paper begin removing wallpaper glue and the wallpaper with a drywall knife. If the wallpaper doesn't come off very well you may need to apply more water, let the water sit, then try scraping again.

When doing the test and you find your paper does comes off easily keep wetting the wall and scraping until all of the old wallpaper is removed. Before doing so, you will need a few more drop cloths along with garbage cans (and bags) for the stripped wet wallpaper.

As you proceed with your project be sure to add clean hot water to your tray or replace the water if it gets to cold and dirty.


Once the paper is removed you will, more than likely, have residue (glue) from the old wallpaper still on your walls. Begin removing wallpaper glue by applying a solution of warm water and TSP (Tri Sodium Phosphate) or other product that your paint store representative advises you to use.

If you'd rather use home remedys for removing wallpaper glue or paste fill a hand sprayer with hot water and one heaping tablespoon of baking soda or four tablespoons of fabric softener.

Spray your solution on, let it sit, then wipe away the excess glue that's left on the walls. I have found, though, that the old glue can be more difficult to remove than the wallpaper itself.

If you have trouble removing wallpaper glue, skim coat the stuck on glue followed by filling any holes and cracks you see with drywall mud and paintable caulking. Sand your repairs with a sponge sander. After the repairs are sanded fill them again if needed, let dry, then sand again. Keep filling and sanding until your walls are smooth and flush.

After the wall surface is ready you can choose your paint. Before doing so, begin the procedures that follow.

  1. Apply a top quality primer to the walls
  2. Once the primer is dry, pole sand the walls
  3. Do repairs (again) using mud or caulking (leave to dry)
  4. Sand, then spot prime your repairs (leave to dry)
  5. Paint the walls with a top quality paint (leave to dry)
  6. Make repairs again, sand, spot paint (if needed)
  7. Pole sand the walls
  8. Paint on your final coat

When mudding, less is more, it's always easier to add more mud after each coat dries as opposed to applying a ton of mud then trying to level the mud out by sanding it flush.


When stripping wallpaper, using lots of very hot water is the easiest way to remove old paper. Of course, with the extra water comes a bigger mess and very hot water can burn you or dis-color your floor.

Steamer for removing wallpaper glue
   You can rent a steamer some of which work quite well especialy when removing wallpaper glue or on larger wallpaper removal jobs.

I myself, prefer to save on the extra cost along with having rented steamers in the past that were abused by renters and did not work very well.

Devices designed specifically to scar the wallpaper for easier removal are usually a waste of money, old wallpaper will either come off the walls or not. With that said, very thick vinyl papers might need such tools or scrubbing with a wire brush to remove them.

Using a palm sander (50 to 80 grit paper) to break the surface and letting the water through can also work to lift the paper. With that said, it's best to try and remove the wallpaper without such drastic tools, being as tools can easily scar the wall giving you extra unnecessary work.

Using a low nap cloth roller cover will cut down on the amount of water soaking your floors, even so, wallpaper removal is a messy job.

In the end, your most important thing to remember is, not all wallpaper or wallpaper glue can be removed. If your wallpaper removal test proves to be more work than it's worth re-wallpapering, texturing, or painting over the wallpaper might, in the end, be a lot easier than removing the stuck on paper.

If you do paint your wallpaper keep in mind that painted wallpaper, in most cases, will not look as good as a coated drywall surface. Repairs on wallpaper tend to stand out especially if your wallpaper has a texture. Furthermore, filled wallpaper seams tend to look worse than if you had not filled them in the first place.

There are other problems along with solutions for painting wallpaper that are discussed in the above mentioned painting wallpaper page.

If your wallpaper looks to be permanently stuck to the surface, consider painting over the wallpaper, applying a texture coat or re-drywalling (boarding) instead of removing it.

When removing wallpaper glue and areas of old glue don't come off with pole, hand, or sponge sanders you may need a little help from an electric palm sander.

Once surfaces are sanded follow up by using an application (or three) of mud (skim coating) if needed.

removing wallpaper, glue or paste

If your stripping wallpaper a Wolf wall shaver or a tool like it is easier on the walls. They get the job done fast and in some cases you may not need to use water for your wallpaper removal process.

After scraping away wallpaper and removing wallpaper glue you might be interested in a guide to help narrow down your color choices.

Yelna Kublitski who is a fellow Painting Contractor offers just the thing.

She calls it Paint Color Cheat Sheets and it's basically an easy to use set of tools for color selection.

The guides are built around Sherwin Williams colors but all the colors given can be matched by virtually any other paint manufacturer.

Yelnas Website gives you loads of information on the product, if your interested. You will find that Cheat Sheets is good value costing about the same price as a gallon of paint. Yelna also gives a 100% money back guarantee if for any reason you're not happy with the purchase.

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