Using Wallpaper Removal Products vs Ripping it Off

While wallpaper removal can be a time consuming task, it is often the only choice you’ve got. Older wallpaper that is incredibly well-bonded to the walls might be painted over provided it’s not peeling, curling or cracking, but removal is usually required. When it comes time to remove it, you have 2 basic choices: applying a wallpaper removal product or simply ripping it off. As you will see, ripping it off sounds easy, but if you don’t have the right kind of wallpaper, it is an exercise in futility.

Ripping Off Wallpaper

In order to rip wallpaper off of the walls, it has to be strippable wallpaper. This is a type of wallpaper that is designed to form a weaker bond with the adhesive. When you want to remove it, start in a corner and theoretically, at least, it should pull right off. Unfortunately, the process is not always this easy. It will tear in spots and require a scraper to pry up a corner to continue the removal. For the most part, however, strippable wallpaper is easily removed. Since it never adhered to the walls with full strength glue, it might begin to peel in places before you want to remove it. 

Wallpaper that is heavily bonded to the walls with strong paste will give you a much harder time if you try to just rip it off. While you might get a hold of a strip or two, it will tear in many places and likely be much more effort than if you started with the removal product. 

Wallpaper Removal Products

Rather than rent a steamer which is most effective with very old wallpaper that contains no vinyl, consider using a product to remove it. There are some household remedies for wallpaper removal including mixing water, baking soda and fabric softener, but a surefire way to do the job is to use a product containing enzyme strippers. This is by far the easiest way to remove hard-bonded vinyl wallpaper. First, you make a series of thin cuts in the wallpaper with a special tool. Next, you apply the enzyme stripper. The cuts allow the product to get underneath the vinyl surface and begin working on the adhesive. The enzymes effectively loosen the glue, rehydrating it and making it soft enough to tear the paper away. 

Pros and Cons of Wallpaper Removal Products

The biggest advantage to using an enzyme-based wallpaper removal product is that it loosens up the wallpaper so it can be easily peeled and scraped off the wall. Without having to resort to a steamer, the product breaks down the adhesive and makes removal much less time consuming. However, depending on the product you use, there can be quite the mess during and afterwards. The Zinsser brand makes a product called DIF Gel which goes on with less mess and begins to break down the adhesive in about 1/2 hour. 

There will always be a certain amount of cleanup following wallpaper removal, but having less of a mess to clean up is a plus. Wallpaper removal products are really the best choice when you don’t have strippable wallpaper to work with but you don’t want to spend a whole weekend scraping walls.