How to Remove a Border, Philly-Style

If you’ve had enough of the Phillies’ latest slump, you may be thinking about replacing the team logo border on your wall. Here are some ways to remove a wallpaper border without damaging your wall.

If you’ve had enough of the Phillies’ latest summer slump, then you may be thinking about replacing the strip of wallpaper with the team’s logo pasted on the walls of your man cave and redecorating with an Eagles one. Possibly, your youngest child is heading off to Penn State this fall and you want to remove a border with cartoon characters and convert the bedroom into your new home office. Maybe you’ve recently moved in a cozy starter home just off of Main Street in Manayunk and can’t stand the sight of that eighties black and forest green diamond pattern border in the kitchen.

Whatever the reason, you just want to reach up under that loose seam and yank the border off the wall. It may peel right off. Sometimes, you get lucky. But if a good strong pull leaves behind more than a few shredded remnants of your ex-favorite Philly sports team logo, there are other ways to get rid of the eyesore. Just remember not to wear your kelly-green Eagles-throwback jersey while you work. Wallpaper removal can be a messy job.

If your primary concern is protecting the walls beneath the border, you may want to first try a gel solution, such as DIF. The gel DIF is available in a spray bottle and the solution clings to the wall longer than water-based formulas. To remove a border, first score the paper with a tool such as a Paper Tiger to allow the DIF to reach the adhesive side of the paper. Next, apply the gel using a rag or a sponge, wait fifteen to twenty minutes, and then scrape off the border with a putty knife. Wipe off any remaining glue on the wall to prevent staining.

If the gel solution isn’t effective, you can also try a water-based DIF formula. The water-based solution is messier and will drip down the wall, so try to work in small sections.

DIF and other chemical solutions have mixed results depending on the age of your wallpaper, if the wall was properly sized before the border was originally applied, and the type of adhesive used. If you prefer to avoid using chemicals, or your wallpaper is proving difficult to remove, you can steam the border off the wall. Try a garment steamer first, if you have one in the house. If not, rent or buy a steamer made specifically to take off wallpaper, available at home improvement stores such as The Home Depot. Carefully follow all instructions on the steamer, as the plate gets very hot and there is a risk of burns (to yourself and the wall).

After you remove the border, repair the wall by sanding off remaining glue particles, patching holes, priming, and painting. If you live in an older house with horsehair plaster, which tends to crumble, you may need joint compound and mesh tape to repair damage and cracks in the wall.

Finally, wait a few days, and consider how painful the removal process was before deciding if you truly want to add your new favorite sports team logo border on the wall. If the answer is no, just hang up a few Eagles’ posters instead.

So, who’s hosting the Super Bowl party?

Jennifer DiGiovanni is a freelance writer and a partner and in a real estate investment firm focusing on residential properties. She previously worked in the financial services industry and has attained an MBA from Villanova University. Jennifer enjoys writing about real estate, home improvement and small business.

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