How To Strip Wallpaper Border

How To Strip Wallpaper Border

How To Strip Wallpaper Border

Introduction to Wallpaper Border Removal

Removing wallpaper borders can give your room a quick and relatively easy makeover. Although at first glance it might seem a daunting task, with a little bit of knowledge, the right tools, and some patience, anyone can master this DIY project. This step-by-step guide is aimed at helping you navigate through this process with ease whilst minimizing potential damage to your walls.

Understanding the Wallpaper Border

A wallpaper border is a decorative strip used primarily to enhance the room's aesthetics. It is often used to break up painted or papered walls or around the room's circumference. Over time, wallpaper borders may lose their appeal due to peeling, discoloration, or changes in home decor trends. When it's time for a change, borders must be appropriately removed to ensure the wall is prepared for any new adornments.

Tools and Materials Needed

The basic tools and materials for wallpaper border removal are usually already in most homes, including a bucket, sponge, putty knife, plastic scraper, and towels. Specialized tools, such as a perforation tool or a steamer, and certain chemicals like wallpaper stripper or fabric softener, may also be used to make the task easier and more efficient.

Time and Patience

Although the process of removing a wallpaper border is generally straightforward, it does require patience. Depending on the border's size, age, and type of adhesive used, wallpaper removal can take anywhere from an hour to a full day. Despite the effort, the end result of a fresh and clean wall space is undoubtedly worth it.

Safety Precautions

Before embarking on a wallpaper border removal project, it's important to prioritize safety. Wear latex gloves to protect your hands from potential skin irritants found in the wallpaper adhesive. Also, ensure the room is well ventilated if you're using chemicals to help dissolve the adhesive. Protecting your eyes is equally crucial, especially when scraping off the wallpaper.

Step-by-Step Instructions

In the subsequent sections of this article, we will provide detailed step-by-step instructions on how to safely and effectively remove wallpaper borders with a range of methods, catering for different types, ages, and sizes of borders. This will ensure that you are fully equipped with the necessary knowledge to undertake this project yourself.


While this guide offers comprehensive advice on wallpaper border removal, always remember that the ease or difficulty of removal can vary based on many factors, including the type of wallpaper, the adhesive used, and the condition of the underlying wall. Therefore, approach this task with patience and care, and don't hesitate to seek professional advice if necessary.

Understanding the Type of Wallpaper Border

Before we dive into how to strip the wallpaper border, it's important to understand the type of wallpaper you're dealing with. This is crucial because the type of wallpaper determines the method of removal.

Types of Wallpaper Borders

There are various types of wallpaper borders available on the market. Some are very easy to remove, whilst others can prove quite challenging. Several popular types of wallpaper borders include:

  • Vinyl Coated
  • Foiled or Metallic
  • Embossed or Textured
  • Flock

Identifying Your Wallpaper Type

Identifying your wallpaper type can often be achieved by simply touching and looking closely at the paper. For example, vinyl-coated wallpaper has a smooth surface and a paper backing. Foiled or metallic wallpaper gleams under light and is not commonly used for borders. Embossed or textured wallpaper has a raised pattern that you can feel. On the other hand, flock wallpaper has a velvety, textured surface that makes it feel like fabric.

Vinyl Coated Wallpaper

Vinyl coated wallpaper is known for its durability and ease of cleaning, which makes it a favorite for high-traffic areas. However, its plastic surface makes it resistant to water penetration, which can make removal more challenging.

Foiled or Metallic Wallpaper

This type of wallpaper has a shiny finish that can add a touch of glamour to a room. It is not often used for borders due to its bold effect. Its stubborn adhesion makes it one of the toughest to remove.

Embossed or Textured Wallpaper

Embossed wallpaper adds depth and interest to a room by introducing a tactile element. Whilst the raised patterns make it interesting, they can also present challenges during removal as the adhesive often penetrates deep into the impressions.

Flock Wallpaper

Flock wallpaper has a velvet-like texture that gives a luxurious effect. Removing this type of wallpaper may be time-consuming as it tends to hold adhesive quite strongly due to its textile nature.

Considerations in Removal Methods

Each type of wallpaper requires a specific removal method. Therefore, knowing the type can help you choose the right techniques and tools. For instance, vinyl wallpapers might require a scoring tool to breach the water-resistant surface before applying a removal solution. Conversely, for flock wallpapers, a careful approach is required to avoid damaging the underlying wall surface.

Now that we've understood the types of wallpaper borders and how they affect the stripping process, the next step is preparing for the removal process. In the coming sections, we will dig deeper into this.

Gathering the Necessary Tools and Equipment

Before you proceed to strip wallpaper border, having the correct setup of tools and equipment is crucial. This will ensure a seamless and effectively executed process. Here are a few key items you will need:

Scraping Tools

Scraping tools are essential when removing wallpaper border. They come in various types such as putty knives and wallpaper scrapers. A quality scraping tool will prevent damage to your walls during removal of the border. Typically, a 3-inch putty knife serves the purpose effectively. Make sure your scraping tool has a flexible blade, which will give you more control in the scraping process.

Steaming Machine

A wallpaper steamer significantly compliments the removal process. This tool uses heat to loosen the adhesive that binds the wallpaper. If you have a large wallpaper removal task, investing in one will be beneficial. For minor removal tasks, you can also opt to rent a wallpaper steamer.

Spraying Bottle or Garden Sprayer

If you opt not to use a steamer, you can use a spraying bottle or garden sprayer instead. You fill these with a mixture of warm water and a stripping solution. The mixture is then sprayed onto the wallpaper to soften the underlying adhesive.

Stripping Solution

The stripping solution assists in loosening the wallpaper adhesive. Consider a commercially available wallpaper stripper or make your own solution using fabric softener or vinegar diluted with warm water.

Plastic Drop Cloths

These will protect your floors and furniture from the potentially messy process of removing wallpaper. Their lightweight nature allows for easy positioning and cleaning after the process.

Sponge and Bucket

These are useful for wiping down the walls after you have stripped the wallpaper. This helps remove residual adhesive and prepares your walls for the next decorating step.

Rubber Gloves

During the wallpaper stripping process, your hands can come into contact with harsh stripping solution. Protect your hands with a pair of waterproof rubber gloves.

Safety Glasses

Lastly, don't forget protection for your eyes. Stripping solution or bits of wallpaper may splash into your eyes during the process, so safety glasses are a must.

By accurately gathering these tools and equipment, you will be well-equipped to remove your wallpaper border with ease.

Preparing the Room for Wallpaper Border Removal

The first vital step before you begin stripping the wallpaper border is preparations of the room. These steps are critical to ensure you don't damage any furnishings and make your work easier. Here's how to go about it:

Clear the Room

Begin by removing as much furniture and decoratives from the room as possible. For larger items that cannot be easily moved, cover them with durable plastic sheets or tarps. This will keep them safe from any wallpaper scraping or solution that may fall during the removal process.

Prepare Your Tools

Next, gather all the necessary tools for the job. This may include a wallpaper stripper, scraper, bucket, sponges, and towels. Place them in a position that's easily accessible to ensure you have a smooth workflow when you start the stripping.

Protect the Floor

Protecting the floor surface is another crucial step. Start by laying out drop cloths or plastic sheets, ensuring they cover every inch of the floor. You can secure them in place using painter's tape. This not only protects the floor from possible damages but also makes the cleanup after removal much easier.

Turn off Electricity

Lastly, remember to switch off the electricity in the room. This is because you may use water or a liquid solution to moisten the wallpaper during removal, which may lead to accidental electrocution. If the room has any electrical outlets or switches, cover them with tape to keep them dry.

Proceeding to Strip Wallpaper Border

Once the room is adequately prepared, you're ready to start the wallpaper border removal process. Always remember that proper preparation protects the room from damage, and also simplifies the border removal process. Proper tool organization will save you time, and protective measures reduce the risk of any accidents happening during wallpaper removal.

Techniques for Stripping Wallpaper Border

When it comes to removing wallpaper border, different techniques can be employed. However, the effectiveness of a particular technique may vary based on the wall's surface type, the kind of adhesive used, and the wallpaper's age. Here, we'll explore some of the most efficient and popular techniques.

1. The Wet Stripping Technique

This is a widely used technique that involves soaking the wallpaper border in a water and wallpaper stripping solution mixture. The solution softens the adhesive, making it easier to scrape off the wallpaper. It's essential to take great care while using this method to avoid soaking the wall too much, which may lead to damage.

2. The Dry Stripping Technique

As the name suggests, this technique is the precise opposite of the wet stripping method. Instead of using any liquid solutions, it relies on tools like a scraper or a putty knife to peel off the wallpaper border. Be cautious when using this technique to avoid scratching or damaging the wall.

3. The Steam Stripping Technique

Steam stripping is a highly effective method, especially for removing older, stubborn wallpapers. This technique uses a wallpaper steam stripper to loosen the adhesive behind the wallpaper so that it can easily be peeled off. Remember to handle the steam stripper with caution as the steam can be extremely hot.

4. The Fabric Softener Technique

This technique is popular due to its cost-effectiveness and accessibility. It involves mixing fabric softener with warm water and applying this solution onto the wallpaper border. The softener weakens the adhesive hold, enabling easy removal. Please note that this technique might require patience, as it may take several applications before the adhesive is sufficiently weakened.

5. The Commercial Wallpaper Stripper Technique

For strong and stubborn adhesives, using a commercial wallpaper stripping solution might be the best method. These solutions are formulated specifically to dissolve strong wallpaper glue. However, always make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions when using a commercial stripper.

Dos and Don'ts When Stripping Wallpaper Border

While using any of these techniques, certain practices should be followed for safety and to avoid any unnecessary damage to the wall. Make sure to protect the floor and furniture from the mess that will inevitably be created. Always start from the top and work your way down to prevent any part of the wall from getting excessively soaked. Lastly, while scraping off the wallpaper border, do it gently and avoid being too harsh since it may result in scratches or gouges on the wall's surface.

Choosing the Ideal Technique

Deciding which technique to use often depends on the surface type, the wallpaper's age and the kind of adhesive used. Certain wallpapers may react better to wet stripping techniques, while others may be more effectively removed using dry stripping methods. Do a small patch test first to determine which technique may work best before you begin the whole process.

Dealing with Difficult Spots and Residue

When stripping wallpaper, not every section will come off as easily as expected, and you're bound to encounter stubborn spots and sticky residue. These areas require a bit more attention and careful handling. Below, we'll elaborate on different techniques to help you deal with difficult spots and residue effectively. Keep reading to find out more.

Identifying Difficult Spots

Irregularities on the wall or areas where the wallpaper adhesive has adhered more strongly are often trouble spots when stripping wallpaper. You can identify these by running your hand along the wall and feeling for raised or rough areas. This will give you a better idea of where to focus your efforts.

Use of Chemical Wallpaper Stripper

For spots that prove particularly resistant, you might want to employ a chemical wallpaper stripper. Available at most DIY stores, these solutions can help break down the adhesive and make it easier to remove. Always make sure to follow the manufacturer’s safety guidelines when using these products.

Dealing with Wallpaper Residue

Once you've stripped away the paper, you may find areas of wallpaper paste still clinging to the walls. Normal soap and water may not be enough to remove this stubborn residue. This is where a wallpaper stripping solution can be invaluable. Apply the solution directly to the residue and let it rest for a few moments. The paste should loosen and become much easier to remove.

Safety Measures

Regardless of the steps you're taking to remove difficult spots or residue, it's crucial to maintain proper safety measures. From wearing gloves when handling chemicals to ensuring the room is well-ventilated, always prioritize safety. It is also recommended to cover floors and furniture with sheets to protect them from any potential damage.

Patience is Key

The task can be tiring and time-consuming, but patience is key when dealing with tough spots. Being overly aggressive with your stripping tool could lead to damaging the walls underneath. So, take your time and approach the task with patience and care.

By taking the time to handle difficult spots and residue appropriately, you'll end up with a clean, smooth surface ready for repainting, new wallpaper, or whatever you have planned next for your room decor.

Repairing and Preparing the Wall for New Decor

Once you've successfully stripped away the wallpaper border, it's time to inspect and repair the wall as necessary. This is an incredibly important step, as it will impact the longevity and appearance of your new wallpaper or paint.

Examining The Wall

Start by carefully examining the wall for any damage. The most common issues you'll likely encounter are small holes, cracks, or irregularities in the wall's surface that resulted from the wallpaper removal process. It's crucial to correct these imperfections before proceeding to ensure that your new decor adheres smoothly.

Repairing The Wall

To repair these minor damages, you would need a surfacing compound or a pre-mixed joint compound. Use a putty knife to apply the compound, smoothing it into the wall and filling in any holes or cracks. It's important to allow ample time for the compound to fully dry. Depending on the brand and size of the repair, this could take anywhere from a few hours to a full day.

Sanding The Wall

Once the surfacing compound is completely dry, it's time to smooth the wall's surface. Use a sanding block or more ideally an orbital sander, if available, to remove any excess compound and level the wall surface. Remember to wear a dust mask to avoid inhaling any dust generated from the sanding process.

Priming The Wall

Priming the wall is a step you should not overlook. Applying a suitable primer will ensure that your new wallpaper or paint adheres properly to the wall's surface. This will also hide any discoloration caused by the old wallpaper or the repair process, providing a clean and uniform surface for your new decor.

Final Wall Preparation

Finally, clean the wall with a lightly dampened cloth to remove any dust from the sanding process. Let it dry fully before proceeding to your new decor. A well-prepared and primed wall will make the interior decoration process easier, ensuring a professional and polished end-result.

Final Tips and Tricks for Successful Wallpaper Border Stripping

Wallpaper border stripping can be a taxing task without the right know-how. By following these seasoned tips and tricks, this chore can be transformed into a fulfilling do-it-yourself project.

Right Tools are Key

Aiming for successful wallpaper border stripping without the appropriate tools is setting yourself up for failure. Ensure you have the essentials like a good scoring tool, wallpaper adhesive remover, a scraper, and a steamer if available. Make sure they are of good quality for effective performance.

Be Patient

The process may seem tedious, but rushing through it could damage your walls, leading to more work in terms of repairs. Patience will prove invaluable, especially if you are dealing with a stubborn wallpaper border.

Test an Inconspicuous Area First

Before you begin stripping the entire wallpaper border, it's advisable to test your stripping method in an inconspicuous area. This will help you understand the bonding strength and the suitable technique to employ for a successful outcome.

Keep the Area Well-ventilated

Some of the stripping solutions may have strong odours or fumes. Always ensure your working area is well-ventilated throughout the process. Opening windows or switching on fans can do the trick.

Remember to Protect Your Furniture and Floor

Cover your floor and any furniture in the room before starting the process. Stripping wallpaper is quite a messy affair and can damage your furniture and floor.

Embrace the Learning Curve

Wallpaper border stripping, like any DIY project, comes with a learning curve. Don't be discouraged if your first attempt doesn't turn out perfect. With these tips and tricks on hand and a bit of practice, you'll soon be a pro at stripping wallpaper borders!