Do you Remove Wallpaper in a Rental?

17 Replies

Just curious here...I know wallpaper is very subjective. 

For my own primary residence, I would not put in wallpaper and if moving into a new-to-us property, will remove already existing wallpaper even if it is in good shape. Wallpaper is just not me.

For a rental, though - if you purchase a property with existing wallpaper, would you leave it or remove it? Obviously, if the wallpaper is in bad shape, then no question - it's got to go. 

But if the wallpaper is in fine shape, what would you do? 

If its in good shape leave it alone. 

Account Closed Do you like it?  If so, keep it. If not, remove it. 

Mostly I would say remove it unless it is fairly neutral.  Dated or very taste specific wallpaper will decrease your rental pool and make your property look old.  However I have left up wallpaper in a bathroom and people didn't care too much.  It was the only room with wallpaper and slightly flowered but not overpowering. If you start showing it and all you hear is about the wallpaper it should have come down.  

Removing wallpaper sucks. and is very time consuming.  It would have to really ugly to make me want to remove it. 

@Peter MacKercher  

I've never removed any wallpaper myself, but have heard from countless friends that it can be a mess and time/soul-sucker. One might have lucked out when his wallpaper came off neatly in sheets, but that's more exception than norm. 

So yeah, I agree w/you, @Colleen F.  & @Account Closed   unless it's in bad shape and horribly overpowering, wallpaper can stay.

Thanks, guys! 

Can I paste an MLS pic here? Just to provide a visual example?

This makes me dizzy. There are borders on the bottom, around the sink and up top (green leafy stuff going on). 

I'm not purchasing this, but have seen plenty of homes with similar tastes.

Account Closed 

I've seen, and purchased, worse.   

The only time I actually like having wall paper is when we want to remove old lath-n-plaster.  Wall paper over plaster, especially the old cloth/mat-backed wallpaper, allows the plaster to come off the lath in larger pieces/sections, cutting down on the dust (but, only a little).

Is it possible for Betty to texture and paint the walls with wallpaper, just leaving them on?

A contractor told me if I did not want to keep paneling he could just put mud and texture over it. I ended up just painting the paneling as it was to save expense.

Account Closed 

That pic... I would suck it up and remove it.  I couldn't in good faith smile when a potential tenant looked at it lol. 

If you leave the wallpaper up and mud or paint over it. sometime water soaks thru and then it starts peeling at the edges. New wallpaper will come off pretty easy but the old stuff is a pain. Best method of removal is 

  1. Step 1: Prepare the Room. Place drop cloths at the base of the walls to be stripped. ...
  2. Step 2: Score Wallpaper. Use a wallpaper scorer to create small holes in the paper, which allows the solution to penetrate through to the adhesive base.
  3. Step 3: use cheap fabric softener to soften up the wallpaper.
  4. Step 4: Soak Walls. ...
  5. Step 5: Strip Wallpaper. ...
  6. Step 6: Clean Walls.

It's also easier to soak walls with warm water and a pump sprayer.  Last time I removed wall paper the pump sprayer was the awesome.  

I would say that it also depends on the type of rental. Is it high end? Then you should probably remove it. If ti's lower end, then I'd mud it and texture it and paint a nice warm taupe or similar.

I have remodeled several apartments this past summer with wallpaper. After trying to remove it and learning what a HUGE pain it is i thought that there had to be a better way. I ran into a painter friend of mine and he recommended to paint it. I have done just that and if you aren't looking for it you barely notice it. The steps he recommends:

1) carefully peel and/or cut off any peeling or damaged spots.

2) use lightweight joint compound or one time spackle over the damaged areas, let it dry

3) sand the damaged areas to blend in.

4) use a high quality oil based primer over all of he wall paper.

5) paint over primer with two coats of high quality latex paint.

Good luck!


We removed wallpaper from an apartment last year. It had been up for years, the walls were plaster and there were like 3 layers but it was still stuck pretty good.  My recommendation is do it right the first time. Unless it is impossible you will be happy you did. Patching is hard enough don't make it harder by going over wallpaper.  It is a lot of labor to remove the paper but it is not hard just time consuming. Also you don't have the labor of painting over it or the cost of plastering over which I imagine can't be cheap.   My teenagers did some of the removal so it doesn't take much skill (just takes longer for those who are inexperienced or don't take direction well).  First see if you can get the big pieces off, steaming helps. If you have the stripes you posted I would say it has to go.  I tore down that same wallpaper from the bathroom when we bought our current house.  Painted over wall paper will eventually peel and then you have peeling painted wall paper that looks worse. On the other hand I am in favor of painting paneling for rentals. Most people don't mind the difference and it doesn't peel off.

@Account Closed   I would not remove it. Waste of time. Is it an option for you to paint over it?

@Roy N.  - good to know re: plaster and older wallpaper. will file that away for reference, Thanks!

@Jason C.  - I'm down with painting paneling, especially if you are painting it some of white along with the walls. Looks much fresher.

@Bryan N.  - I'm not buying this particular house, but asking opinions because I do see a lot of the 80s homes and even 90s homes with some kind of wallpaper or another. Especially, if the house only has has 1 or 2 owners...don't know why. I might have to eventually deal with something similar at some point in time, so trying to get a headstart in terms of how to deal with it most efficiently :)

We've purchased properties with intact wallpaper, pealing wallpaper and painted over wallpaper.  Wall paper can be paper-backed, fabric backed, or fiberglass-backed. Removal techniques may vary.

The hardest to deal with was the painted over wallpaper.... can't score it and soak it.  I would not recommend painting over wallpaper, especially it is embossed, flocked, foil, or textured. Once you paint it, it is like embalming it.  Soooooo hard to deal with later!

The older the wallpaper, the harder it is to take down. But it really depends how strong the glue was to start with and how it has aged.

Wallpaper is coming back into vogue, so we might see more of it. However, styles change. For rental property, neutral colors and designs are usually best. If it is already installed, in good condition, and doesn't hurt (or even enhances) your ability to rent to good tenants, leave it. If it isn't working for you, remove it.

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