Wallpaper is a great way to show off your personal style and a wallpaper border sets this off even more.
However, this wall covering can quickly date and may look out of place after a while. Also, these can get damaged from chair backs or kids pulling at them, so they do need changing, or at least removing.
Removing wallpaper border can seem a challenge, yet it can be easier to do than you think. You can remove the border with few tools, supplies you have in your home, and just a little time.
In our guide, we cover all you need about the various ways you can start removing wallpaper border without removing the rest of your wallpaper. By the end, you’ll know all there is about removing a wallpaper border, and how you can do so with your homemade wallpaper remover and in the shortest possible time. (Read Drywall Tape Vs. Mesh)
How Do You Remove a 20 Year Old Wallpaper Border?
Most modern wallpaper is strippable, so strips of wallpaper may be easily removed from seams with a putty knife or other wallpaper removal tool.
However, this wasn’t always the case, and you can struggle if your wallpaper is 20 years old, and you’ll have little luck. You’ll have to get your hands dirty to find a wallpaper removal option for such old wallpaper border removal.
- Liquid fabric softener
- Household vinegar
- Hot water
- Liquid stripper concentrate
- Painter’s tape
- Clean spray bottle or household pressure sprayer
- Rubber gloves
- Wallpaper removal tools: putty knife or wallpaper scraper
- Wallpaper scoring tool
- Coarse-grit sandpaper (optional)
- Steamer (optional)
Hot Water Mix
You can find this mix and process is often used for wallpaper in general, but it could be effective on a smaller border. (Learn How To Remove Wall Tile)
- Remove old wallpaper using hot water and fabric softener or vinegar.
- Using a wallpaper scoring tool, carefully score the wallpaper border.
- Mix 1 part liquid fabric softener to 3 parts boiling water, or 1 part household vinegar to 2 parts boiling water
- Fill a clean, empty spray bottle or a household pressure sprayer with the hot water mix.
- Allow a few minutes for the spray to sit on the wallpaper borders surface.
- After applying the hot water mix, remove the softened paper using a wallpaper remover tool, such as a putty knife or a wallpaper scraper.
A commercial solution for loosening wallpaper is liquid stripper concentrate, which may be bought in most home improvement stores.
Dilute the stripper concentrate according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, then spray the diluted solution on the wallpaper border with a spray bottle or pressure sprayer.
Remove the paper off the wall with your wallpaper scraper. To assist the solution to permeate the wallpaper, score the border before applying the stripper concentrate. (Read Drywall Mud Vs Spackle)
When working with liquid stripper concentrate, always be sure to wear rubber gloves.
Additional Tips for Wallpaper Removal
- Try sanding the paper with coarse-grit sandpaper if you’re having difficulties removing the wallpaper border and getting the liquid solution to penetrate the paper.
- The resistance to water in old wallpaper can vary, however, sanding can usually solve the problem. Apply the hot water mix from above or the liquid solution again after sanding and wait 30 minutes before proceeding.
- Then, using your wallpaper scraper or putty knife, remove the damp wallpaper.
- If you’ve used a liquid solution on your wallpaper and aren’t sure if it’s ready to peel, try a little section with your fingernail. Wait a little longer or apply more of your solution if you can’t peel it.
- The easiest way to remove the border on old wallpaper is with patience and care; use a soft touch while using a putty knife to avoid hurting the drywall.
- When working with coated wallpaper, which can be tough to remove, Popular Mechanics recommends using a steamer with a wallpaper removal tool.
How Do You Remove Wallpaper Border From Drywall?
Some walls are easier to work on than others, and drywall has its challenges. The paper stubbornly sticks to the surface, and specific steps are necessary for removal. Here is how to take off a wallpaper border from drywall.
Drywall Wallpaper Border Removal
- Liquid fabric softener
- Warm water
- Spray bottle
- Plastic scraper
- Scoring tool
Removing wallpaper from drywall can challenge you, as it’s easy to pull the coating off the drywall, thus resulting in a more significant repair. Here you can find the best ways of dealing with wallpaper glue that doesn’t want to let go of your wall.
To remove a wallpaper border from drywall, try peeling away the top corner of the wall border paper using the edge of your putty knife or your fingernail. If the piece easily comes off, remove it in sections, and if it doesn’t, score the paper with a scoring tool before applying a stripping solution.
Fill a bottle halfway with liquid fabric softener and water, shake well to mix, then spray the remaining paper with the solution. Allow the liquid to sit for about 15 minutes after working in small sections. Remove the tough wallpaper with a plastic scraper and throw it away.
Here is the step-by-step process of preparing your wall and how to remove a wallpaper border or the entire wallpaper from drywall.
Prep Your Walls
Always begin at the seams. Peel off as much of the border as you can by hand from one seam to the next in small sections (approximately 1-2 feet). If the border will not come off by hand, skip this step.
Score in Circles
Cut small circles in the wallpaper border with the scoring tool. If you push the tool too far into the wall, marks may try. Make the circles overlap each other as much as possible.
Prepare Your Solution
In a clean spray bottle, prepare a fabric softener and water solution. I use a 50/50 mix of softener and water, however, if you have paper borders, you can use less softener. More softener may be required if the borders are plastic coated or have been on the wall for a long time.
Let It Soak
Fill a bucket halfway with warm soapy water and drop your sponge or rag in.
In the small holes, you created with the scoring tool, spray the softener water mix. Let it sit for a few minutes to soak to the underside of the border adhesive.
Use a sponge or rag to soak up the liquid that drips down the wall and smear it to the border.
Allow at least 15 minutes for the liquid to soak into the border before peeling. Peel a loose seam or corner and try peeling with your hands. Peel as much as you can and spray more liquid onto the remaining layers.
Once you’ve peeled away everything you can with your hands, start scraping away with your scraper/putty knife. When scraping, be careful not to harm the wall.
Wipe Your Wall
Use a sponge or rag to fully clean the wall as you go along with soapy water.
Before moving on to the next section, it’s a good idea to put the wallpaper you’ve just removed into a rubbish bag. If you leave wet paper on the floor, it will dry on your carpeting and harm it.
Alternative Methods for Wallpaper Border Removal
No matter where you have wallpaper border in your house, you can use the tips above, or these alternatives as a border remover option.
Remove Wallpaper Borders With a Hair Dryer
- A 1200 or 1500 watt hairdryer, as well as a plastic scraper, are required. Turn your hairdryer to the lowest heat setting.
- Hold the dryer about 10 inches away from the wallpaper’s surface and allow the warm air to blow on the edge.
- The glue should soften as the paper heats.
- After that, pull the border away from the wall as you blow. If required, use the plastic scraper to help loosen the bond.
Remove a Wallpaper Border Using a Steamer
- You can use a steamer instead of a dryer if you don’t like the dryer heat method. Steam is also better if your border is on paint rather than wallpaper. Paint can melt from your blower, yet steam won’t have the same effect on your paint or surrounding painted areas.
- Take the steamer and work in small sections from the bottom to the top. Use the plastic scraper to remove the remaining border off the wall once the border has begun to loosen. You’ll be ready to redecorate your walls before you realize it.
Loosen Wallpaper Borders with Homemade Wallpaper Strippers
The DIY wallpaper stripper method is our final recommendation. Commercial wallpaper remover is available, but you may save money by using one of two homemade recipes like these that can work on painted areas causing no damage. (Learn How To Get Wax Out Of Fabric)
- Fabric softener wallpaper stripper is the first recipe. Combine one capful of fabric softener and four cups of water in a mixing bowl.
- The vinegar wallpaper stripper is the second recipe. Mix one part vinegar and one part warm water in a mixing bowl. Mix two parts vinegar with one part water if you need stronger glue treatment.
- Fill a spray bottle with either recipe and spray directly on the surface to remove wallpaper borders. Allow the mixture to soak completely into the wallpaper. If required, scrape with a plastic scraper. Sponge up any drips as they run down your wall.
- After you’ve removed the border, wipe the surface down with a sponge or moist towel.