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How to Remove Dried Wallpaper Adhesive by Sanding

Sal Marco

Decorating a room with wallpaper is an easy way to brighten it or add interest to walls. Over the course of time, wallpaper loosens or becomes damaged and must be removed. Depending on the wall preparation and type of adhesive prior to hanging wallpaper, removing the adhesive is challenging and time consuming. Finding a thick buildup of yellow-brown, dried adhesive behind wallpaper is not uncommon. Removing the adhesive is a necessary step before refinishing the walls.

Sand walls smooth before refinishing.
  1. Fill a bucket with hot water and dip a rag in it. Wring out excess water and wipe the walls to soften adhesive prior to sanding. Rinse the rag often to avoid reactivating and spreading the soft adhesive.

  2. Scrape the walls with a metal scraper to remove as much soft adhesive as possible.

  3. Fit a sanding block with medium-grit sandpaper and sand the remaining adhesive.

  4. Move the sanding block from place to place along the wall until the walls are free of obvious old adhesive.

  5. Equip the sanding block with fine-grit sandpaper and sand over all wall surfaces to achieve a smoother finish and remove thin, less noticeable adhesive.