Removing wallpaper is one of those home improvement tasks most people dread. Luckily, for those dealing with older wallpaper and adhesives, the job is not that difficult to accomplish. With some easy to attain equipment, solvents and a little persistence, you can remove the old wallpaper and create a new look in no time.

Determining Your Wall Type

Before getting started, you should determine whether you have drywall or plaster in your home. Since drywall is much more susceptible to water and scraping damage than plaster, you will need to take more care with it. If the house you are working on is 50 years or older, it is likely to have plaster walls. If it is a newer home, it is likely to have drywall. Determine the type by knocking on the wall. Plaster will offer a dull, solid sound while drywall will sound less substantial and hollow.

Wetting the Paper

Though some paper peels off without wetting, in most cases you will need to saturate the paper to dissolve the old paste. Help the moisture permeate the paper by cutting or puncturing it throughout with a utility knife or one of the many wallpaper puncturing tools on the market. This is especially important with foil or vinyl coated wallpaper that resist moisture.

Use water or a water and vinegar mixture to moisten the paper. Chemical wallpaper removers are also available but are not usually necessary with older wallpaper and adhesives. Apply the moisture with a spray bottle or steamer. If you use a steamer, do not moisten more paper than you can remove in 15 to 20 minutes. You do not want the moisture to soak in and damage the wall, especially if it is drywall.

Peeling and Scraping

With older pastes, the paper may peel off without much scraping. If it does not, you will need to resort to scraping with a wallpaper scraper. This should be done especially delicately on drywall. Plaster is much more durable and stands up to scraping much better. If you find the paper is not scraping or peeling free, you may want to go back and try some solvents or chemicals for easier removal.

Removing Residue From Walls

Of course, after the wallpaper is gone, you will be left with adhesive residue. You can generally remove this with detergent, adhesive removal chemicals, fabric softener or water and vinegar. With older adhesives, the water and vinegar option may be all you need. Apply it with a spray bottle or sponge. If it doesn't come off immediately, let the solution set for five to 10 minutes before wiping or scraping.