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Removing old wallpaper is an essential part of surface preparation for a new paint or wallpaper job. If you're lucky, the old wallpaper you encounter will be the strippable type that peels off the walls easily. But you're not always lucky. In older houses, wallpaper can be stubborn. Use water, steam or one of several commercial mixtures to loosen the adhesive and peel away the paper. Lowe's is happy to provide this information as a service to you.
Before using any method to dissolve the glue holding the paper in place, you must score the paper. Vinyl or other non-porous paper will not absorb any removal product, so you must make tiny cuts in the paper to let the product soak in. Even porous paper will remove easier when it is scored.
Specialty scoring tools are available to make the process faster. Though it might be tempting to use a knife or saw, those tools are more likely to damage the wall underneath the paper. Score all over the paper to be removed, paying attention to the corners and edges of the wall.
When the paper is scored, you have several choices of removal aids:
Water, or water mixed with common household products such as mild detergent, will loosen the glue on some papers. Try plain water first, and if that doesn't work, switch to 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water, or a 50-50 mixture of water and liquid fabric softener.
Chemical wallpaper removers function the same way as the water mixtures above, but are stronger. Mix and use according to manufacturer's directions and apply using one of the same tools.
A wallpaper steamer will loosen stubborn glue, allowing you to peel the paper away. The steamer includes a flat face-plate that you press to the wall, allowing steam to permeate the scored marks and melt away the adhesive.