How to Remove Wallpaper

Removing Wallpaper When Selling a Home

How to Remove WallpaperCertain tasks are always worth doing when you are selling a home. Mowing the lawn, for instance, just makes sense. It is too easy and makes the house look so much better, that it is foolish not to do it if you want to attract buyers. Knowing how to remove wallpaper is another such task. Most buyers today are not going to appreciate wallpaper – it is old-fashioned and tends to date the home.

Wallpaper is an obvious thing to get rid of if you have the opportunity. Fortunately, removing wallpaper does not have to be terribly difficult. With a little time and the right technique, you will have the wallpaper off the walls and can move on with your sale.

Sellers ask me all the time if they should remove the wallpaper when selling their home. My answer 99% of the time is yes! In fact on many occasions when they don’t ask, I need to tell them to remove it. Unfortunately, in most circumstances, wallpaper dates a property. It is highly personalized and makes it difficult for many buyers to picture a home as they would want to see it.

So when sellers say “I will give the buyer a credit, and they can just take the wallpaper down themselves” they are missing the whole point. Wallpaper makes your home harder to sell. You will end up getting far less money for your home when leaving the wallpaper. If you are ambitious and want to learn how to remove wallpaper, keep reading.

If not it would still be advisable to have a painter or handyman remove it for you when selling your home!

Do You Need To Remove The Wallpaper?

Only if you want to get the best price for the home!

While there is a possibility that you can find a buyer who just so happens to love the look of the wallpaper, the odds of that happening are slim. You and your real estate agent are trying to pull in as many qualified buyers as possible, but only a few of those buyers will make an offer. Wallpaper is not a popular design choice right now with most people, so leaving it up risks driving off someone who will pay you enough money for your home. It is all about making your home more appealing to buyers.

If you are still on the fence, ask your Realtor. What does he or she think about getting rid of the wallpaper? Chances are your Realtor will be all for eliminating the wallpaper, painting with some beautiful neutral colors and moving the home as quickly – and for as much money – as possible.

Getting Started Removing Wallpaper

How to Remove Wallpaper When Selling a Home How to remove wallpaper when selling a home?

Before you begin the actual removal process, you will need to take care of a few things. This includes:

Identifying What Type Of Wall You Have

You want to know what kind of walls your home has to remove the wallpaper safely. Homes over 50 years old are usually built with plaster walls – walls made of wood lathes covered in coats of plaster. A plaster wall will sound dull when you knock on it and is much harder (difficult to put push pins in, for instance) than drywall.

If your home is less than 50 years old, the chances increase that it could be built with drywall. Drywall is a lightweight material that consists of a chalky center and a thin cardboard cover on both sides. Drywall will sound hollow and will be much easier to penetrate with pins or nails.

Plaster walls are durable, while the cardboard on drywall can be damaged fairly easily. Be gentle if you are removing wallpaper from drywall.

Identify Your Wallpaper

There are several different kinds of wallpaper, each requiring a different method for removal. Standard wallpaper can be sprayed with hot water and stripping solutions, while other types may require different tactics. Keep reading to see some of the best tips for removing wallpaper by identifying the type you have.

Strip-able Wallpaper

There is strip-able wallpaper (consider yourself lucky if you have this) which can just be pulled off the wall by hand. It requires no water or chemicals to remove. You can check if you have strip-able wallpaper by pulling at a corner of the wallpaper. If it comes away easy and doesn’t leave anything behind, great! Only newer wallpaper will be strip-able by hand, so if you have older wallpaper, don’t get your hopes up.

Peel-able Wallpaper

With peelable wallpaper, you can peel off the vinyl top coat of the paper by hand, and then use the regular water removal method to take care of the paper that is left behind.

Washable Wallpaper

Washable wallpaper was designed to clean up quickly when it got dirty, which means it has a plastic film on the surface to repel dirt and grime. The problem with washable wallpaper is that the plastic film will prevent water from penetrating to the paper for removal. If you have a washable wallpaper, you will need to puncture the plastic film before applying water. Be careful not to cut too deeply, especially if you have drywall.

Prep For Removal

Tips For Removing Wallpaper Remove everything from the walls you are working on and remove all the furniture you are able. If you can’t move some furniture, cover it to protect it. Tape drop cloths to the baseboards to catch any materials that come off. You can place towels underneath the drop cloth to create a trough if you like. Gather all your tools together, including hot water, whatever applicator you are going to use, and your scraping tool.

Removing The Wallpaper

There are several different ways to remove wallpaper, depending on what type of paper you have and what difficulties you run into.

Removing Wallpaper With Water

You have a few options for removing wallpaper with water. You can buy a liquid stripper concentrate from the hardware store, which helps peel the paper off, or you can try hot water alone – which can often work. Some people also like to apply fabric softener as an alternative to the stripper concentrate.

Hot water will help soften the glue holding the paper. You can rent a machine for steam removal if the wallpaper is giving you trouble, but many people are successful just using a pump sprayer filled with boiling water. If you don’t have a sprayer and don’t want to rent a steamer, you can also apply the hot water with a broad brush.

Once you have used the water and the other products, you need to let everything soak in for a few minutes. Once the paper is thoroughly soaked, you can begin scraping off the wallpaper. Newer wallpaper will come away relatively quickly, while older wallpaper may take some real elbow grease to remove fully.

If you are having trouble getting the paper to become saturated, you can score the wallpaper before spraying to allow the water to penetrate better. Avoid doing this from the beginning, though, because often you will not need to score to get the paper off. Scoring is a lot of extra work, so avoid doing it unless necessary.

Do You Need A Steamer?

If you are having serious trouble getting the paper to come off, there is no shame in renting a steamer. It will probably make the job go a lot more quickly. Remember, if you are going the steamer route, make sure you have a friend with you to strip while you steam. It is a two person job.

Are you the type that likes to watch a video? Check out this excellent visual guide on removing wallpaper via John Ripper at Youtube.



Prepping The Walls For Paint

Once you have removed all the wallpaper in your home, make sure you get your walls prepped for paint. This will cause the result look a heck of a lot nicer and please your future buyer in the process.

Final Thoughts

Leaving wallpaper behind when selling a home is often a huge mistake. Local real estate agents in your market can give you a better handle on just how much money you may be leaving on the table by not removing the wallpaper. There have been very few homes I have seen that did not benefit from stripping and removing the wallpaper.

Keep in mind that once the wallpaper is removed picking the right wall color is critical. The best advice is to stay with a very neutral tone. As much as it may seem boring to you, an off-white is usually best. Remember you are not doing this to accommodate what you like but what the masses want. Selling a home for the most money means making it appeal to the largest percentage of buyers.

Hopefully, this guide on how to remove wallpaper from your home has been helpful!

Other Useful Home Selling Articles

Use these additional resources to make smart decisions when selling your home. When following the advice of a pro homes almost always sell quicker and for more money!

About the Author: The above Real Estate information on the how to remove wallpaper was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 29+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service Real Estate sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.

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