How to remove wallpaper border

Understanding how to remove wallpaper borders can be essential, especially if you're embarking on a home renovation or redecorating project for your office interior or commercial space.

In this comprehensive guide on how to remove wallpaper, we'll walk you through the process— examining the factors affecting removal, the necessary precautions, and a variety of techniques that you can apply based on your specific situation. Thereafter, you'll find solutions to common problems you may encounter during removal and tips on preparing your wall.

Although we focus on wallpaper border removal, stripping full wallpaper sheets can differ. For detailed instructions on that, refer to this separate guide: How to remove wallpaper

 

What factors affect the removal of wallpaper borders?

Material and age influence wallpaper border removal. Vinyl types resist water, complicating removal, while the adhesive in fabric ones penetrates deeply, adding to the challenge. Delicate paper wallpaper tears easily, adding to the complexity. Contrastingly, modern peel-and-stick and non-woven wallpapers offered at Photowall are designed for easy removal and are generally simpler to remove than traditional styles.

Another factor that affects wallpaper border removal is the age of the wallpaper. The longer wallpaper remains on the wall, the more challenging removal becomes, as the adhesive can harden over time. This hardened adhesive can make the wallpaper border stick firmly to the wall surface, requiring more effort to remove. 

 

What are the precautions for removing wallpaper borders?

 

Before you begin your DIY wallpaper border removal, it's always a good idea to consider a few safety tips.

Use of protective gear: Depending on the technique used, you might want to consider wearing household gloves to protect your hands from potential minor scrapes. If you're sensitive to dust, a mask could also be beneficial.

Proper use of tools and solutions: Regardless of your chosen method, it's a good practice to understand how to use your tools and any solutions effectively. For instance, if you're using a store-bought wallpaper remover, do take a moment to read the instructions.

Wallpaper disposal: When disposing of old wallpaper, it's important to do so responsibly. Older wallpapers might contain materials that could harm the environment. If you're unsure, do some research to identify the best disposal methods. This highlights the importance of being aware of what's in the products we use in our homes. For environmentally-conscious individuals, choosing wallpapers free of harmful substances is crucial. Photowall's wallpapers are an excellent example, being free of PVC— a type of plastic known to have environmental and health concerns. Opting for PVC-free wallpapers can reduce environmental pollution when it's time to dispose of them.

 

Techniques for wallpaper border removal

 

In this section, we'll explore six varied techniques for wallpaper border removal, each catering to different wallpaper types and removal complexities. We begin with the simplest, manual removal for new wallpapers, progressing to warm water and a putty knife for the slightly stubborn ones. Fabric softener and water mixture can tackle those that have been up for a while. For hardened, sun-exposed wallpapers, we employ heat guns or wallpaper steamers. Particularly resilient wallpapers may need a chemical remover and, the toughest of them all, an orbital sander. Read on for detailed technique descriptions, tools needed, and step-by-step procedures. 

 

Technique 1: Manual removal with wallpaper scraper or putty knife

 

If you're dealing with newer wallpaper that hasn't tightly bonded with the wall yet, this basic and economical technique can be your go-to. Requiring minimal tools and materials, it's a great starting point for beginners or anyone looking for an easy, cost-effective method.

 

Tools

● Wallpaper scraper or putty knife

● Wallpaper adhesive remover or warm soapy water

● Sponge or cloth

 

Step-by-step guide

1. Start by loosening the edges: Use a putty knife or scraper to lift the edges of the wallpaper border gently.

2. Peel off the border: Once the edges are lifted, grip the edge firmly and slowly peel it off, applying even pressure.

3. Remove any glue: If any adhesive glue remains on the wall, use a wallpaper adhesive remover or warm soapy water to clean it off with a sponge or cloth.

 

Technique 2: Warm soapy water

 

For wallpapers that pose a bit more of a challenge and resist basic manual removal, this safe and non-toxic method comes in handy. It's particularly effective on wallpaper that isn't quite old enough to necessitate more aggressive techniques.

 

Tools

● Scoring tool or utility knife

● Warm water

● Sponge or cloth

● Putty knife

● Wallpaper adhesive remover or warm soapy water

 

Step-by-step guide

1. Score the border: Use a scoring tool or utility knife to create small punctures in the wallpaper border. This will allow the warm water to penetrate and loosen the adhesive.

2. Apply warm water: Dip a sponge or cloth in warm water and saturate the wallpaper border with it. Let it sit for a few minutes to soften the adhesive.

3. Peel off the border: Gently slide a putty knife under the softened border and lift it away from the wall. Continue this process until the entire border is removed.

4. Clean off any glue: If there is any adhesive glue left on the wall, use warm soapy water or a wallpaper adhesive remover to clean it off.

 

Technique 3: Fabric Softener and Water

 

When you encounter wallpaper borders that have been up for a considerable amount of time, a fabric softener and water mixture can make a difference. This method makes it easier to dissolve the adhesive and remove the wallpaper without resorting to heat or chemicals.

 

Tools

● Fabric softener

● Warm water

● Spray bottle or bucket

● Sponge or cloth

● Putty knife or scraper

● Wallpaper adhesive remover or warm soapy water

 

Step-by-step guide

1. Create the fabric softener solution: Mix equal parts of the fabric softener and warm water in a spray bottle or a bucket.

2. Apply the solution: Apply fabric softener solution onto the wallpaper border with a sponge or cloth. Ensure it's thoroughly saturated and allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes.

3. Peel off the border: Using a putty knife or scraper, gently lift the edge of the border and peel it off the wall. Continue this process until the entire border is removed.

4. Clean off any glue: If there is any adhesive glue left on the wall, use warm soapy water or a wallpaper adhesive remover to clean it off.

 

Technique 4: Heat gun or wallpaper steamer

 

When it comes to older and more stubborn wallpapers or those hardened by extensive sunlight exposure, introducing heat can be the answer. This more advanced technique utilizes a heat gun or wallpaper steamer to soften and loosen the adhesive, making the scraping process easier.

 

Tools

● Heat gun or wallpaper steamer

● Drop cloth or plastic sheet

● Putty knife or scraper

● Wallpaper adhesive remover or warm soapy water

 

Step-by-step guide

1. Prepare the area: Protect the surrounding area by covering it with a drop cloth or plastic sheet.

2. Heat the border: Use a heat gun or wallpaper steamer to apply heat directly to the wallpaper border. Move the heat source back and forth, keeping it a few inches away from the wall, until the adhesive softens.

3. Peel off the border: Once the adhesive is softened, use a putty knife or scraper to lift the edge of the wallpaper border and peel it off. Be careful not to damage the wall surface.

4. Clean off any glue: If there is any adhesive wallpaper glue left on the wall, use warm soapy water or a wallpaper adhesive remover to clean it off.

 

Technique 5: Chemical wallpaper remover

 

For those extremely resilient or old wallpaper borders where other methods have not achieved the desired result, a chemical remover may be required. This technique, though more aggressive, ensures effective removal.

 

Tools

● Chemical wallpaper remover

● Sponge or brush

● Putty knife or scraper

● Warm soapy water

● Wallpaper adhesive remover 

 

Step-by-step guide

1. Understand your product: Before starting the wallpaper removal process, read the instructions provided by the manufacturer of your chosen chemical wallpaper remover. These may include specific waiting times and safety precautions. Familiarize yourself with these before proceeding to the next steps.

2. Apply the remover: Use a sponge or brush to apply the wallpaper remover onto the border, following the manufacturer's instructions. Allow it to penetrate and soften the adhesive for the recommended time.

3. Peel off the border: Once the adhesive is softened, gently lift the edge of the border with a putty knife or scraper and peel it off. Continue this process until the entire border is removed.

4. Clean off any glue: If there is any adhesive residue left on the wall, use warm soapy water or a wallpaper adhesive remover to clean it off.

 

Technique 6: Orbital sander

 

When faced with the most stubborn wallpapers or those that have been up for many years and applied with a particularly strong adhesive, an orbital sander can be an effective solution. This method is especially useful for textured or layered wallpapers, albeit being time-consuming.

 

Tools

● Orbital sander with medium-grit sandpaper

● Drop cloth or plastic sheet

● Safety goggles

● Dust mask

● Damp cloth or sponge

 

Step-by-step guide

1. Prepare the area: Protect the surrounding area by covering it with a drop cloth or plastic sheet. Wear safety goggles and a dust mask.

2. Sand the border: Using an orbital sander with medium-grit sandpaper, sand the wallpaper border in circular motions until it is completely removed. Be careful not to apply too much pressure or damage the wall surface.

3. Clean off any glue: After sanding, clean off any dust or residue with a damp cloth or sponge.

 

Troubleshooting common problems

 

Even with the best techniques, you may encounter common problems during the wallpaper border removal process. Here are some troubleshooting solutions:

Wallpaper doesn't peel off easily: If the wallpaper border doesn't peel off easily, try applying more water or a wallpaper adhesive remover to soften the adhesive further. Use a putty knife or scraper to lift the edges and continue peeling gently. 

Glue left on the wall: If wallpaper glue remains on the wall after removing the border, use warm soapy water, a wallpaper adhesive remover, or a mixture of vinegar and water to clean it off. Scrub gently with a sponge or cloth until the residue is gone. 

Handling wall imperfections: Sometimes, your wall may already have small tears or holes that become noticeable once the wallpaper border is removed. Repair them before applying new wallpaper or paint: fill the damaged areas with spackling compound or joint compound, sand it smooth, and prime the wall before proceeding with your desired finish.

 

After the removal: Cleaning and wall preparation

 

After successfully removing the wallpaper border, it's crucial to clean up any remaining adhesive or debris using warm water and mild detergent. A common challenge is dealing with stubborn wallpaper glue, which can interfere with the adherence to new wall treatments. For an in-depth understanding of how to handle this, this article will get you through the safe and effective removal of wallpaper glue as well as how to clean walls after removing wallpaper glue: How to remove wallpaper glue

If the wall surface still has some irregularities, light sanding can help create a smoother canvas for your next decorating step. Once satisfied with the wall condition, applying a primer is the next move. This helps to ensure proper adhesion of your new wall treatment and promotes color uniformity.

Having successfully removed your wallpaper border, cleaned, and prepared your walls, you're now at an exciting juncture— installation of your new wallpaper. If you're unsure how to go about this, don't fret. Dive into our comprehensive guide on how to install wallpaper and transform your space: How to install wallpaper