When my husband and I were looking for our home, my father in law said something that has stuck with me ever since: "if you can see it, you can change it". I tell this to clients all the time now because the big, hidden things can be scary but paint, wallpaper, even reconfiguring a layout? It can be done! Now, did I know that by following his advice I'd be getting into a home that had multiple rooms with MULTIPLE layers of wallpaper each? No. No I didn't. But I promise you I tried every technique to get it down and I'm here to make your life a little bit easier.
Part 1: The tools
The most important thing to invest in when you're attempting to take down wallpaper is a scorer. We used one called the "chomp", but this one looks super similar. They all seem to have animal names (Paper Tiger, Pirhanna, Chomp) because like I said- it's a jungle out there. More on how to use it later.
The second thing I would suggest is a flat paint scraper or putty knife like this. The wider the better!
In terms of actual removal, I tried so many different wives tales (I still can't look at fabric softener the same way), chemicals and home remedies and the ultimate winner? HOT water and vinegar. I learned the hard way by melting a plastic spray bottle that it would be best to invest in a glass one, because the water heat does matter (at least it does in my head).
Lastly, I would suggest having something on hand to repair nicks and chunks you accidentally remove from the wall. First of all, it's going to happen. Secondly, you want to knock it out ASAP because you'll be so sick of manual labor after you finish this, I guarantee you'll never get back to it ;) . This patch/scraper/primer combo is just what the doctor ordered!
Lastly, if you decide to paint over where you had wallpaper, you MUST use an oil based primer (like Killz) versus anything water-based. Water will reactivate any wallpaper glue left on the walls , creating a sticky bumpy mess that will make you want to buy a whole new house.
Part 2: The Technique
Step 1: If there's a shiny or decorative top layer on your wallpaper, peel that off first if possible. You should be left with a fuzzy under layer of paper.
Step 2: Rub your scorer (put your BACK into it) over top of that layer (or over the top layer if you can't separate them) puncturing the paper. The idea is to create holes for the vinegar solution to seep behind the paper.
Step 3: Mix equal parts boiling water and vinegar in a glass spray bottle. Liberally spray it over the prepared wall and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
Step 4: Try to find a seam or hole and start there, then gently pull the paper in one direction trying to lift up as you go. You can either use your fingers or the flat scraper for this part.
Repeat these steps until you have a fresh clean slate to work with and vow to never let wallpaper come back in style (or at least to never paint over it!).