The Best Way to Remove Wallpaper Glue


Wallpaper. One of the strangest fads in human history. No, really. All of human history. We know that some people still like to use wallpaper, and to those, we ask – why? For decades, people decided wallpaper was a fun way to provide design and art to the rooms of their homes. Be it simple borders or entire walls; homeowners used different patterns and designs to liven up each room. The point was to give each room its flavor while also allowing the homeowner’s own personal tastes or interests to be displayed on the coverings of walls. Admittedly, wallpaper remains a great way to hide unsightly markets, defects, or paint without having to do a whole lot of work but beyond that – it’s a messy job.  

Why So Messy?

Since the turn of the century, our customers have been removing wallpaper from most homes’ surfaces. Different designs in different rooms and differing expected moisture levels required different types of wallpaper. Still, one thing that every pattern, design, and material have in common is the adhesive necessary to get the paper to stick on the wall… forever. When people put wallpaper on the walls, they never really thought about having to remove it. The glue used on old-school wallpaper is the stuff nightmares are made of. That stuff was created with the intent to last longer than the homeowner would last – and in almost every scenario, mission accomplished. The different glues and adhesives used are some of the nastiest, stickiest, and sometimes stinkiest things imaginable. Removing it can be challenging but thankfully there are tips and tricks to make it easier!

How to Remove Wallpaper Glue

Tearing down the old wallpaper itself isn’t that difficult. The glue that’s left behind, though – that’s the hard part. There are a couple of slick ways to help the glue unbind from the wall surface, at least enough for you to be able to scrape it off with a simple putty knife. An age-old trick is to use something like a steamer. Holding a very hot steamer up to the wall and letting it moisten and wet the paper and glue with one hand, then following the steamer path with a putty knife in the other hand is dangerous and difficult. This almost always requires at least two people to succeed, but it makes the glue removal easier as it often comes off with the paper. Again, this is a dangerous trick to perform, but it is practical for sure.

A second, safer way to remove the glue? Water and vinegar mixed. Mix 50/50 water and vinegar in a spray bottle and go to town on the wall. Spray it all down, let it set, and spray some more. Start tearing up the paper and the adhesive, and use the putty knife to follow. This method is pretty effective, but … it stinks. The work area may smell like vinegar for days, but it’s an affordable way to remove the paper and glue. Just be prepared to use a little more muscle with the putty knife.

The final option would be to buy a solution for this exact purpose. There are over-the-counter products created to assist in the removal of wallpaper and glue. They vary in price, strength, and container sizing, so it’s probably better to let a professional figure out what’s necessary.
The professionals at Trico Painting have removed wallpaper from hundreds of homes and businesses. They have the knowledge, materials, and tools necessary to remove the wallpaper AND glue promptly without making your home or business smell too bad.