Stripping and peeling off old wallpaper without chemicals and without going insane is possible, even for real beginners!
Before embarking on this new adventure, protect the floor with cardboard. Then, firmly but elegantly, try pulling the wallpaper off dry. If it does, you are so lucky! Just sing hallelujah at the top of your voice and dance. Don’t forget to do this BEFORE wetting the paper, because when in contact with water, the old dormant glue may wake up and fiercely stick to the wall again.
If the wallpaper refuses to let go, you are left with the wet option. Fill a small bucket with boiling water. Add some white vinegar – effective, cheap, and non-toxic. Use a half water half vinegar solution. That’s it, nothing else. To make sure your water is always hot, mix your stripping solution in small batches. Soak a pretty paint roller in it and spread it on, one section of the wall at a time.
Wet the wall from top to bottom in a 50 cm increment. Give the mixture 10 minutes to work its magic.
Take a deep breath and, without having the heebie-jeebies, start peeling from the bottom edge. If the wallpaper resists, use a plastic putty knife. Peel pieces of wallpaper away one at a time. Do 50 cm increment wetting of the wallpaper while you peel the 50 cm area you did previously. If your wallpaper desperately clings on, keep wetting it while you’re peeling it. In case of stubborn unwillingness to let go, leave it to soak for a few minutes more.
When your walls are finally bare, look out for cracks to be filled. Use some plaster or jointing compound. If you don’t have either, mix equal amounts of salt and corn starch. Add just enough water to make a thick and pliable paste. To plaster over small holes, wet them with a paintbrush. This clever trick helps the filler bond to the surface. Squeeze some plaster directly into the hole. Press it firmly into place, then spread it. It should be slightly higher than the wall surface. When dry, sand the surface with small-grade abrasive paper wrapped around a sanding block.
To fill larger holes, dip some newspaper into a runny plaster and water mix, scrunch it up and shove it into them, to give the filler a base to attach itself to. Let it dry before sanding. Don’t forget to lightly sand the whole walls to remove any wallpaper glue residue. After this, you can burst with pride: the walls are in tiptop shape for you to roll on the paint or hang new wallpaper.