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Should You Remove Old Wallpaper Before Selling Your Home?

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Should You Remove Old Wallpaper Before Selling Your Home?

It's a question many people ask: does wallpaper affect the sale of a home?

Wallpaper brings unique color and design to your walls, but is it something that every homeowner likes?

If you're prepping your house for sale, you may be wondering if it's a good idea to remove old wallpaper before you put your house on the market.

Wallcovering isn't for everyone, so it may depend on your market and the buyer. Before you decide to take on yet another task, read this helpful guide that discusses whether or not leaving your wallpaper alone is best.

Age and Style

Take a long, hard look at your wallpaper before you decide to remove it. If it's old and crackling, you should consider taking it off.

Old wallpaper can become dry and brittle or it may even be discolored. If the wallpaper seems to be aging, you should probably take it down unless it's antique and adds to the character of the home.

Another thing to consider is the style of the wallpaper. Does it have a loud or extremely busy pattern that will distract buyers? Are the colors gaudy and overwhelming?

If the wallpaper isn't complimenting the style or theme of your house, go ahead and prepare for removal. On the other hand, some wallpaper is sleek and stylish.

If you've applied the wallpaper in the last few years and feel that it's a good fit for your home, you may be able to leave it as-is. Most newer homes have wallpaper in just one room, or it's used on a feature wall only.

For wallpaper that's meant to make a room pop, it should be OK to leave it on your walls. But, if it seems to overtake a space or make the room look smaller, taking it down could be a better option.

Giving Buyers a Fresh Start

For many homebuyers, they'll want a blank canvas so they can make the new home their own. If there's a crazy patterned wallpaper in the house, it could cause some buyers to keep looking.

Clean and fresh is the name of the game these days when it comes to home sales. If your house has walls covered in floral designs or country kitchen themes, it could turn some buyers off.

Think about how you'd feel walking into your home for the first time. If you get an immediate sense of being overwhelmed, or the home feels too closed-in, go ahead and get that wallpaper taken down as soon as possible.

Just remember that once you remove the wallpaper, you'll need to apply a fresh coat of paint. Choose neutral colors that will complement the features of the home and give it a clean and natural aesthetic.

Of course, if you're wondering if you should remove old wallpaper, you will need to keep the cost in mind, too. In some cases, it could cost a lot to remove the old wallpaper and then re-paint.

Old wallpaper can be extremely difficult to remove, especially if you have plaster walls. Wallpaper that's applied directly over drywall could take the drywall with it when you remove it, resulting in more repairs before you can re-paint. Consider consulting a professional who can do an analysis and give you a quote before you start the process.

Sometimes, the cost to make changes before you sell is much higher than the benefit you'll get from a sale. Decide whether it's worth your time and money before coming to a decision.

Reasons Why You Should Remove Old Wallpaper

If you're still on the fence about taking that gaudy wallpaper down, there are quite a few reasons why you should. First, if your home is fresh and neutral, you'll appeal to a much wider swath of buyers.

Today's buyers want things to be clean, and wallpaper can make the home feel cluttered and even dirty. The more neutral your home is, the higher the number of people will be who can envision themselves living there.

Don't list your home or post photos of it until you completely remove all of the old wallpaper. Listing pictures of that spare bedroom covered in flowers and vines from the 1980s will instantly turn a lot of buyers away.

Instead, wait to list the home and post pictures once all of the old wallpaper is gone and a fresh coat of paint is applied. You'll get many more interested buyers this way.

Remember that even if you love that loud print featured in the living room, not all buyers will. It might be a little sad to remove that sentimental old wallpaper, but in the end, it's all about getting the sale.

If you wait to make the change from wallpaper to freshly painted walls, you might be too late. Consider getting everything done before you list so you can improve your chances of a quick sale.

The bottom line is that you want your home to be inviting and enticing to all buyers, not just some in a niche market. With a blank canvas in every room, you're offering a new start to a lot of people.

If you're still unsure, talk to your real estate agent and ask for their advice.

Getting Rid of that Old Wallpaper

Once you're ready to remove old wallpaper, you'll need to determine what kind of wallpaper you have. Each type of wallpaper requires a different method to get it cleanly off your walls.

Most standard wallpaper can be sprayed using hot water and a chemical stripping solution. Other might need a different method in order to get it removed effectively.

If you have strippable wallpaper in your home, you're quite lucky. This type of wallpaper can usually be pulled off by hand, and it doesn't need any water or chemicals to get it off. Pull at one corner of your wallpaper and if it seems to peel off easily, you should be in the clear.

Peelable wallpaper features a vinyl topcoat, and it's fairly easy to remove by hand. You can use water to get rid of any excess paper that might be left behind on the surface of the walls.

Washable wallpaper was a popular choice in the past thanks to its easy-to-clean properties. But this type of wallpaper has a plastic film over it, which makes it difficult for water and chemicals to penetrate. You'll need to puncture the layer of plastic before you apply water, but be careful not to cut too deep or else you could damage the drywall underneath.

Removal Prep

Before you start the removal process, take everything off the walls, and remove all furniture if possible. Cover any furniture still in the room with a drop cloth or sheet to keep it from getting damaged.

Tape a drop cloth to your baseboards so it can catch all of the excess wallpaper and other materials. Gather everything you need together including the hot water, chemicals, and a scraping tool.

You may want to wear safety glasses just to avoid getting debris and chemicals into your eyes. Once the room and walls are prepped, it's time to get down to business.

The Removal Process

Using hot water is the most common way to remove old wallpaper. A liquid stripper concentrate can help peel stubborn spots of paper off the walls. 

When you apply hot water, it softens the glue that's holding the paper in place. A steamer is an easy way to apply the hot water to the surface nice and evenly.

Let the hot water or steam soak into the walls for a few minutes, then start slowly scraping off. In general, newer wallpaper should come off more easily than old wallpaper. 

Score the wallpaper before you spray it if you're having difficulty getting it to come off. This will allow the hot water to penetrate under the surface and get to the glue. 

Once all of the old wallpaper is gone, you'll need to prep your walls for paint. Make sure every scrap is removed and that your walls are smooth and even before you add a fresh coat of paint.

Old Wallpaper: The Verdict

From decor to artwork, the finishes you choose for your home are really a matter of taste. The same concept applies to wallpaper, so consider removing it carefully.

If you're ready to remove old wallpaper from your home, you'll have a chance to give your space a fresh, new start. Remember that buyers prefer a clean and neutral palette where they can make the home their own.

Find your next dream home by visiting our website, and be sure to check out our incredible 3D virtual tours for a realistic view of real estate all from your computer.