How to Strip Wallpaper the Easy Way

I have a room in my house that I have never shown you before – not even a glimpse.

The reason – it is really small and impossible to get a good photo, plus there was not much to see – except lots of dated wallpaper.

Today I am giving you a peek to show you the first step in the room’s transformation that I am taking on as my first big project of the year.  I don’t even have an idea for the room yet, but do know that whatever I come up with, that the wallpaper needs to go.


I put the wallpaper up back in 1996 and I loved it then -not so much anymore. Having to strip wallpaper, I like even less!

Removing wallpaper, especially well-adhered wallpaper, is not hard but can get a bit messy. I know this from plenty of experience.  I also know from experience that the easiest way to remove it is to attack it with the score and soak method using a product called DIF Wallpaper Stripper and a Paper Tiger scoring tool!


Without these two marvelous inventions – removing wallpaper would require hiring a pro or the rental of a steamer.

Using these two products does require a bit of patience in the way of having to wait 20 minutes after the DIF solution is applied.  If you are like me, you may want to start pulling off the wallpaper immediately.  You will however, be rewarded after the wait when the wallpaper comes off in big sections in minutes – which does bring a bit of enjoyment – seeing new possibilities for the room come to mind right in front of your eyes.

Ed and I both took turns removing the paper and had it done in a few hours.

Foyer Powder Room:  Before

How to remove wallpaper

I have had this glass cabinet door hanging in the room for a long time. I plan on removing the book pages behind it and will do something new with it somewhere else in my house eventually.

How to Remove Wallpaper The Easy Way

Supplies needed to remove wallpaper the easy way

supplies needed:

The type of paper – texture and thickness, along with what was used to adhere it will determine how easy or hard the wallpaper will be to remove.  I had a few stubborn areas, but all I needed to do was spray and sponge on more DIF and it eventually all came off.


1. Roll the Paper Tiger over the entire wallpapered surface. Apply just enough pressure to perforate the paper.  If you push too hard, it will score the sheetrock or other wall surface.  A little Spackle will fix the problem, but why add an extra step?


Doing this will leave little holes in the paper that will allow the DIF solution to penetrate the paper and loosen the adhesive.

3. Protect the floor and furniture with plastic drop cloths.

4. Mix the DIF liquid concentrate with warm water in a bucket following the directions on the bottle’s label.  Use a thick nap paint roller or a large sponge to soak the paper with the solution.  You can also use the Spray-On DIF. It is a thick gel that clings to the paper.  I used both products, but like using the concentrate since it goes on much faster.


5. The fun begins after you apply the DIF and wait 20 minutes.  In some cases – the paper will peel right off. Where there may have been more adhesive or less DIF  – it may need a second coating and waiting period, just keep the paper wet with solution and the wallpaper will come off.

I used a flat metal scraper to gently wedge under the edge of the paper to start removing each section. Once I had enough wallpaper lifted up with the scraper, I used both hands to pull the paper off.


6. When most of the paper is off, you may be left with some smaller pieces. Just soak the areas with the DIF solution and sponge again, wait a few minutes and then rub the sponge over the areas with a bit of pressure until the paper slides off the wall. Add more solution to the wall as you work.


7. Once all the paper is removed -you need to clean the wall thoroughly.

Fill the bucket with clean water and TSP Cleaner. Wash over the walls with the solution to remove any adhesive residue on the walls.  Then to make sure the walls are ready for paint – wash again with plain water.

Once the walls are completely dry,  they should be primed. If painting – use a paint primer, if you are going to put up new wallpaper,  use wallpaper primer.


The room is tiny, I classify it as a space, not even a room and I had to use a wide angle lens to get these photos which kind of look a bit distorted.

To remove the wallpaper behind the toilet, Ed had to remove the tank.

Now, I have to decide what to do in the room in the way of colors and style.  I truly have no idea yet, except that it will be budget-friendly.   Stay tuned…


For more project ideas, visit or follow True Value on Pinterest. I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.



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  1. I too would have decided to remove that wallpaper! Some very helpful tips here – especially good to know if the previous house owners/decorators had a very unusual taste in wallpaper….

  2. I see this is an old post, so hopefully you will still answer! I am about to attempt removal of an old mural off 1940’s plaster walls. Do you think this will work for that? Or any special steps to follow when dealing with older walls?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Cindy – Is it attached like wallpaper? If so, DIF or any wallpaper stripper should work well. Use the Paper Tiger gently on stubborn areas where the paper will not come off. Let the solution soak into the wall, don’t rush it. Once the paper has enough solution on it, it comes off easily. If not, you can rent a wallpaper removing steamer. That will do the job without harming the plaster, too.

      1. thank you so much for your response. It does seem to be attached like wallpaper as some of it is peeling in the corners, seems like the same kind of adhesive as wallpaper. I’ve been dreading it, but feel better now. It will be so worth it! Thank you. Love your blog. You have exceptional taste & style!

  3. Love all the ideas. Thanks Diane & everyone for your comments. I’m in the beginnings of re-doing a very tiny full bathroom (in fact my only bathroom)
    It is tiled on the floor & 4′ up the walls & the tiles are in great shape so I’ve got to deal with the colors that are there – pink & gray. Mostly gray with pink accents. One tiny skinny window which is what you immediately see when you walk into the room so I’ve got to find something that really pops! Was thinking about stenciling all over the walls – I’m not a big fan of wallpaper – or striping the walls. I have never done either but was hoping that one of these might give the room a bigger appearance? Any comments? I would welcome your input –

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Marcella – Doing an all-over wall stencil would add interest without taking up any room. There are so many patterns to choose from at Royal Designs or Cutting Edge Stencils. The hardest part of this would be getting the stencil to wrap around any tight wall corners. Another way to add interest is by adding a focal wall. Paint one wall a deep color, from the way you describe the room, this would be the wall where the window is. The other walls would be a second lighter color. The focal wall would bring your eye into the room, while the lighter side wall would keep the room looking spacious.

      Bring in some pink and grey paint chips to see what colors would coordinate. Even bring in some green and or blue. Both of these colors look nice with pink and grey and would move you out of the pink and gray only color scheme.

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  5. Thanks for the instructions. I can see why you liked the wallpaper so much – it is very pretty. It would look great in a collage/project.

  6. I’m not a fan of wallpaper. Helped mom remove lots of it from our farmhouse when I was a kid. (Layers even!) Taking it off plaster is so much easier than drywall. She had this steamer attachment that went on our Electrolux canister vacuum. And I remember using vinegar. Nope, not a wallpaper fan AT ALL! I am a big fan of the DIF gel. Got a small project taking wallpaper off the wood walls in my unheated mudroom (renters did it, grrr!) and need some warmer temps (2 degrees now, but feels like -18!) before I get up the gumption to tackle it.

    I used to clean walls & woodwork before painting with a product called Soilax, which I found at a professional painter supplier. It cleaned like crazy and the beauty was you didn’t have to rinse (and rinse and rinse) like you should with TSP. I guess they stopped making it, but another product that is close is Dirtex. I’ve found it at Menards and the occasional Ace Hardware. They used to carry it at Sherwin Williams, but now they only carry “green” Dirtex and, well, it SUCKS! Dirtex Green (in the green box) doesn’t work, get the original Dirtex in the red box. And non-phospate TSP is just as bad. Sucky, sucky, sucky! I’m all for green products, but for one-off jobs that you don’t even want to be doing, why cause yourself grief with products that don’t work?

  7. Great post Diane! I understand that you are ready for a re-do of the 1/2 bath but seeing it for the first time I like the wallpaper and what decorating I could see. Love the colors. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with it. Vikki in VA

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Vikki – I loved the look when I did it when we first moved into the house. It is the only room that has stayed the same over the years. I am looking forward to transforming it. I think I have a plan now. Will keep you posted step by step.

  8. Diane, I love your blog. You are so creative and inspiring. Funny that you should decide to tackle your powder room, I am in the middle of doing our basement bathroom. It was the only room in the house that still had wallpaper when we bought it, complete with border at the top. I put up with it for a year and finally said, it was time to get it down. I used the paper tiger but nothing more except really hot water in a garden sprayer. Worked just fine, and no residue to have to remove, other than the glue. Even that, wasn’t too hard. What was the hardest was prepping the walls for paint considering the seams weren’t well sanded due to plans to immediately paper them. I had to skim coat them with drywall compound and sand well, then prime, then paint two coats of paint. But it looks great now. In the middle of the vanity update and hope to be done by the end of the week. Great minds think alike, have fun dreaming up your new space. I have.

  9. Diane, you seem to “know” when I need a solution to a problem. I’ve been fretting over what process to use for removing wallpaper in two bathrooms. I needed this post! Many thanks!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Gina – The doldrums of January is the perfect time to tackle jobs like this – glad that I provided you with the solution XO Once you start and get the wetting/soaking and waiting part down, the job will go pretty easily.

  10. Retromodgirl says:

    What is meant by sizing the walls before papering? Thanks.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Sizing is the best way to improve the stick-ability of wallpaper adhesive. It acts as a barrier to prevent the adhesive from soaking into the wall, improves adhesion, and gives you extra time to straighten and get the paper on just right. It also protects your drywall from damage especially when it comes time to remove it. If you sized the wall initially, removing it is easier. Without sizing the drywall can come off along with the paper.

  11. Very timely post…as I just started stripping wallpaper from my guest bedroom. It’s awful. What is TSP cleaner?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      TSP cleaner is a cleaning agent that is in powder form. It is sold in a cardboard box usually around the paint aisle at hardware and home improvement stores. You mix the powder with water and use it to clean any surface. It gets all the residue off. It works especially well to clean and prepare a surface for painting. It is very inexpensive.

  12. To save money, I use the white vinegar+water trick. Takes the paper and all glue off the walls and no odor. After all the paper is down, I ‘wash’ the walls with the same solution using a scrubber type of sponge. (If you don’t get all the glue off, you wind up with a crackle finish when priming or painting.) I never knew about the paper tiger. I just lightly scored the paper with a utility knife. I first tried the fabric softener+water trick, but I found it to be very tricky – and the house and me smelled like I had been doing laundry non-stop for a week. I found DIF useful for only small spots of residue after paper had been taken down. (Yeah, they had glued a border to the wall every few feet.)

  13. A professional paper hanger gave me this helpful tip years ago. Use liquid fabric softener (think Downy) and warm water in a spray bottle. (Use it the same way as the Dif). Don’t remember the exact amounts, but I usually use about 1-2 Tbsp softener in a large spray bottle. (I don’t usually measure, just ” eyeball” it.) For really large jobs, he suggested using a garden sprayer. Liquid softener is much less expensive than Dif and smells much better.

    1. Fabric softener works much better than dif and I have taken down a lot of wallpaper. And like you said it smells so much better!

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        Thanks for the tip Jill – I will have to try it. Fresh clean laundry smell might even make removing the paper a more pleasant job :)

  14. Ashley @ 3littlegreenwoods says:

    Guess what I’m doing next month? That’s right… removing thick, textured wallpaper from my kitchen and foyer! Thank you so much for this wallpaper removal tutorial!

    Crossing my fingers it comes down as easy as your wallpaper did!

  15. Diane, let me stress the importance of removing all of the adhesive from the walls before you paint. When we moved into our home over 20 years ago we planned to remove the paper in the master bath and paint instead. I stripped the paper and asked my husband to wash the adhesive off while I was at work. He did a quick wipe-down and proceeded to paint in order to surprise me. If you remember the “crackle” finish that was popular for a while then you can picture what the walls eventually looked like!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Patti – Thanks for bringing this up. When I was first married, Ed and I stripped lots of wallpaper from our first house. We got great advise from a guy at the hardware store we went to to find out how to do it. He told us to us TSP to clean the walls well after we removed the paper and adhesive. I always use it now. I will add a line in my post after where I say to use TSP. That way – everyone will know – you really have to clean the walls well before painting :-)

  16. You are a woman who has stolen my heart because you sized the walls before you papered. Your timing is spectacular because next week, I tackle our master bath of dated paper. Unfortunately, the previous owners of our home thought sizing was something you sprayed on your shirts instead of starch. I am a true believer of Dif and find it a spectacular product with it’s friend the paper tiger. So as wallpaper gains popularity again, please size your walls readers. I can hardly wait to see your finished bathroom. Your sense of color and style are delightful!

    1. I have stripped my porch and I need to do my hallway which is big not looking forward too this process have used white vinegar but I’m going to try the fabric softener this time thanks for information x