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Generation Next | How to Strip Wallpaper

Ask This Old House painter Mauro Henrique teaches apprentice Mary McGuire-Smith how to strip wallpaper without using any chemicals

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Time: 3-4 hours

Cost: $50

Skill Level: Beginner

Tools List for Stripping Wallpaper:
Utility knife
Putty knife
Empty spray bottle
Wallpaper scoring tool
Flathead screwdriver

Shopping List:
Plastic drop cloths
Painter’s tape

1. This job requires working with a lot of water. To keep the mess down, start by protecting the floor with drop cloths. Use painter’s tape to secure the drop cloth directly to the wall.
2. Cover up any outlets on the wall with painter’s tape. Do not remove the cover as those can help protect the outlets from water.
3. Score the wallpaper around the outlet with the utility knife. A putty knife can help make the score marks straight. Those pieces of wallpaper will be removed last.
4. Start removing as much of the dry wallpaper as possible. Identify a seam in the wallpaper, slide the putty knife underneath it, and start peeling it off. Work slowly and as parallel to the wall as possible to get the most off in the dry passes.
5. Score whatever wallpaper remains on the wall with the wallpaper scoring tool to get underneath the wallpaper and closer to the paste holding it up.
6. In the spray bottle, mix hot water and vinegar together in a 50/50 proportion. Spray the mixture on the wallpaper.
7. Let the mixture sit on the wall for 5-10 minutes. It should deactivate the wallpaper paste so it can be scraped off with the putty knife.
8. Clean off the wall and any remaining wallpaper paste with the hot water/vinegar mixture and a sponge.
9. Once you’re done working with water, remove the painter’s tape around the outlets and remove the outlet covers with the screwdriver.
10. Scrape off the rest of the wallpaper around each outlet with the putty knife.
11. Put the cover plate back on the outlet.

To remove wallpaper without using any chemicals, Mauro recommends using hot water and vinegar, which can be purchased at any grocery store.

The other materials Mauro used to remove the wallpaper, including the putty knives, utility knife, and the wallpaper scoring tool can all be found at home centers and painting supply stores.

Special assistance with this project was provided by Mauro’s Painting (

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Keywords: This Old House, How-to, home improvement, DIY, ask this old house, GenerationNext, mauro henrique, wallpaper, painting

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