Before you start be aware that wallpaper removal can be labor intensive and could cause severe damage to the walls. Most removal damage is due to the lack of a wallpaper primer application before the walls were wallpapered, resulting in the glue being absorbed into the wallboard. The top layers of wallboard (paper) will try to come off with the wallpaper backing. If this occurs in large areas, I recommend you call a professional. If plan to continue on your own be prepared to perform a large amount of drywall repairs and sanding. The drywall process could take up to two or three days to complete.
There are many different types of wallpaper on the market today and some are dry strippable. Solid vinyl and fabric backed papers can usually be removed by simply pulling them from the wall without wetting.
Most residential wallpapers are of the "vinyl coated" type. Vinyl coated papers are by far the most common in residential homes. The vinyl face of these papers is usually "dry stripable" meaning that the face will separate and leave only the paper backing on the wall. Start by removing as much as the vinyl face as possible. Find a loose corner, you may need a putty knife or scraper to get started.
After all the vinyl face is removed the paper backing should also be removed. The paper backing will require a wet removal. Fill a five gallon bucket to half way full with warm water, add about a cap full of fabric softener or a commercial type of liquid remover. There have been tales of several different type of home products that work best, but I can attest that no matter what you use it is very difficult and frustrating task removing wallpaper.
If there are electrical outlets or switches in the room, you may want to turn off the electrical power. Apply this solution to the wall with a paint roller or some type of garden pump sprayer, a sponge can be used to get into the corners. Wet a four or five foot section of the wall and make sure the wall section remains saturated with the solution for about ten minutes. Remove the wet backing with a four or six inch putty knife or scraper, being careful not to damage the drywall paper.
After all the backing is removed finish cleaning the walls with a hand sponge and fresh solution of your choice of additive and warm water. Allow the walls to dry completely (usually 24 hours) and apply a wallpaper primer if you plan to re-wallpaper the walls. If you plan to paint apply an acrylic primer/sealer to the walls before painting. Even if the wallpaper comes off easy you may still have some drywall prep to do. There will be areas from the removal that will have little nicks in it from the scraper you use. There may some caulking to do on the ceiling line and baseboards due to the razor cutting of the wallpaper.
Now you are ready for step 2, preping the drywall. See the drywall repair section on our tips page.