The real secret to successful wallpaper removal is something that happens long before it's time to remove the paper; it's done when the paper is being hung. It's called proper wall preparation! Unfortunately, chances are that you may not have owned the home when the paper was originally installed and that's exactly why you're removing the paper. Sorry to break the bad news, but red velvet flocked paper is out! Even if the walls were not prepared to your ultimate satisfaction, you'll still be able to remove the paper. It just may mean a little more elbow grease and some additional repair work to the wall surface once the paper has been totally removed.
Begin by performing the second most important secret to successful wallpaper removal; scoring or breaking the surface of the paper to allow steam or a paste solvent to penetrate the face of the paper and weaken the bond. Although this can be accomplished in several ways, two of the most popular are with a scoring device designed specifically for this task or by using a hand saw. The teeth of the saw are run across the face of the paper and result in what an angry cat might do to a predator.
The two most popular methods to remove wallpaper are using a steamer or with an enzyme based solution, which will neutralize the wallpaper paste. Either of these methods is acceptable and, under normal circumstances, will work quite well. A steamer, which can be rented from your local tool rental establishment or paint and wallpaper store, is inexpensive and easy to use. Steam is used to moisten the paste while not saturating the drywall or plaster below.
The wallpaper stripping solution can be purchased from your local hardware store, home center, or paint and wallpaper specialty store. It comes as concentrated formula that is to be mixed with water and sprayed on with a pump garden sprayer. Be cautious not to use too much or you could soak the wallboard below and end up with more repair work and wall preparation than you bargained for.
Regardless of which method you should use, start from a corner at the top and work your way down along vertical seams, letting gravity help peel back the paper. You may find that using a four to five inch putty knife can significantly improve your ability to separate the paper from the wall. After all of the paper has been removed, thoroughly clean up any paste and paste remover that may remain using a sponge and warm water. Once the wall has dried completely -- generally a day or two -- you can make repairs to the surface with drywall joint compound or another appropriate patching material. A little light sanding and you'll be free of that purple paisley wallpaper and be ready to move on to new horizons.