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How to Get Poster Putty Off Walls

A close look at someone removing the poster putty from the wall.

When you want to decorate your wall but you aren't allowed to use a drill or a hammer, you end up using stickers and double-sided adhesives. Here are ways to remove the unfortunate side-effect of poster putty.

Did you ever freshly paint your bedroom or living room and once the new, clean room looks amazing you don’t want to drill holes in it and mess it all up?

Or what about a pesky landlord who has restrictions against any holes in the walls, but you can’t make space your own without being able to decorate it!

Loctite Home and Office 2-ounce Pack Fun-tak Mounting Putty Tabs by Henkel Corporation
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No need to worry. These are common struggles many people face when it comes to wall décor in your home, which is why there are so many options for hanging things that don’t require any holes or damage to the walls like poster putty, command strips, and double-sided mounting squares.

Command Picture Hanging Strips Heavy Duty, Large, White, Holds 16 lbs, 14-Pairs
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Any of the adhesive options just mentioned are extremely easy to use and hold up quite well over time. The trouble is that sometimes when it is time to remove them from the wall because you are remodeling or moving, you realize it wasn’t as risk-free as you originally thought, and you want to be careful to not remove the paint on the wall along with the adhesive component.

Gorilla Tough & Clear Double Sided Mounting Tape Squares, 24 1" Pre-Cut Squares, Clear, (Pack of 1)
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This guide will help you navigate the removal process to avoid any damage to your wall or paint to have it looking fresh and new again.

What Is Poster Putty?

Poster putty is an adhesive material that could be cut into any shape or size you need to hang things on your walls like posters, pictures, and another lightweight décor.

The adhesive components in the poster putty allow the putty to stick securely to the wall and then to the items you want to hang on the wall, so they are securely in place without having to drill or hammer any holes.

Because of its adhesive nature, poster putty could be difficult to remove at times depending on the type of wall you are sticking it to and how long the item stays on the wall before you remove it.

The longer it is on the wall, the more difficult it will likely be to remove all of it at once without having to put a little bit of work into it.

Step-By-Step Poster Putty Removal

Step 1

Remove the item from your wall and let any adhesive stay on the wall that didn’t come off with it. Be gentle because you don’t want to remove the item too aggressively and pull off all of the adhesive and the wall pain along with it.

Step 2

Slowly pick at one corner of the putty to lift what you can from the wall.

Step 3

Gently scrape the poster putty with a putty knife to remove any of the left-over putty that comes off easily.

Step 4

Roll the poster putty you just removed into a ball and try using that to remove any of the stubborn putty pieces that are still on the wall.

Step 5

Continue this process over and over by blotting the putty still on the wall with the putty ball in your hand until you can remove most of it, if not all of it.

Step 6

Use a cotton ball soaked in any citrus-blend cleaner and apply it to any of the remaining putty to slowly loosen it from the wall. You can use a small scraper or your fingernail to gently scrape the rest of the stubborn putty from the wall.

Step 7

Wipe away whatever leftover marks are on the wall and clean the area thoroughly to prevent any stickiness or stains. When cleaning the wall, use repeated gentle circular motions to be sure you don’t do any damage to the wall in the process.

Step 8

Dry off the wall with a microfiber cloth to remove any excess liquid. After a few minutes, check the spot again to be sure the stain is no longer there once it dries.

A shelf at a store containing various products of Goo Gone.

Alternative Ways to Remove Poster Putty from Walls

There are alternatives to removing poster putty from your walls as opposed to following the step-by-step process listed above.

Because this is such a common issue, there are adhesive removers or other solutions specifically made for this purpose and they can make the task much easier than just trying to remove it on your own.

Below is a list of some of the most popular options for buying adhesive removers:

1. Trisodium Phosphate

This is a common solution found in most cleaning agents that can also be used to remove poster putty from your walls. Mixing the solution in a gallon of water and soaking the area should do the trick.

2. Steam

As you may know, steam and heat could be very harmful to adhesives, but you could use that to your advantage in this instance. Using a steamer or even steam from an iron could help loosen the putty from the wall.

3. Goo Gone

Formulated with citrus cleaning agents, this is a surface-safe formula that removes any goo or stickiness without causing any damage to your walls.

4. 3M Adhesive Remover

3M Adhesive Remover, Helps Remove Tar, Attachment Tape & Bumper Sticker Adhesive, 12 oz., 1 aerosol
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Wipe-on, a wipe-off formula that is ready to use and safe for most surfaces. It is a blend of non-abrasive solvents that quickly dissolve the adhesive residue. It is commonly used for pumper sticker removal, tar, and attachment tape.

5. Rubber Eraser Wheel

ABN Rubber Eraser Wheel 4in Pad & Adapter 1-Pack – Pinstripe, Adhesive Remover, Vinyl Decal, Graphics Removal Tool
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Removes vinyl, decals, graphics, double-sided mounting tape, etc. from many surfaces. This tool is a drill attachment that is compatible with a maximum of 4,000 RPM and fits any standard drill. It is safe to use without worrying about scratching or damaging your wall, eliminating the need for any harmful chemicals. Left-over residue can also be removed with this tool and any mild solvent.

6. Plastic Razor Scraper

EHDIS 1.5" Plastic Razor Scraper with 10pcs Double Edged Plastic Blades for Removing Labels Stickers Decals on Glass Windows
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Double-edged plastic razor minimizes any potential scratches and has an easy to release the blade. Uses both metal and plastic blades that are reversible for easy storage.

7. Adhesive Remover Wipes

Hollister 7760 Adhesive and Barrier Remover Wipes, Category: Ostomy Supplies (Pack of 50)
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Comes in a package of 50 wipes and are universal adhesive removers for any left-over pieces of adhesive or stains.

8. Dish Detergent

Try pouring a pea-sized amount of dish detergent onto a scrubbing brush or old toothbrush. For the best results, use dish detergent with a citrus base. Scrub in a large circular motion slowly to avoid causing any damage to the wall.

Does Poster Putty Damage Your Walls?

Depending on how long the poster putty was attached to your wall, it may leave behind some residue once all of the putty has been removed.

If so, try cleaning the area with soap, warm water, and a soft sponge or rag to remove any spots left on the wall. After a few minutes, this should remove any stickiness, stains, or discoloration left-over from the poster putty.

The ideal solution you should use to remove any stains or residue on your wall is any citrus-based cleaning solution. This is the most popular option when it comes to cleaning up nasty residue or discoloration on your walls and also has the most positive results.

You can also try using a magic eraser if you don’t have any citrus-based cleaning solution on hand.

Just to be safe, you should test any solution you intend to use on a small corner of the wall or baseboard to be sure it is not going to damage or remove any of the paint on the wall.

Testing a small area and waiting a few minutes to see how it dries could save you the trouble of having to repaint the whole wall if it ends up making the small adhesive stain into a large worn out, discolored circle on the wall.

A close look at a wall with a spot of scraped paint.

What to Do If You Couldn’t Avoid Damaging Your Wall

If the damage is already done and you didn’t read this before you used a harmful solution that damaged your wall or ripped the poster off the wall bringing the wall paint with it, no need to worry.

Yes, you have created more work for yourself, but it isn’t the end of the world and can be easily fixed. What you need to do next is gently rub-down the wall with a fine-grit piece of sandpaper to wear down the stained area to make it easy to prime and paint over.

Ideally, you want to use sandpaper with 120 grit or higher. If there is a lot of dust leftover on the wall, wipe it off with a Clorox wipe, baby wipe, or wet paper towel.

Apply a layer of primer over the stain using a small roller brush or small paintbrush in short, smooth strokes. You want to cover a space that is slightly bigger than the spot you are trying to cover.

If you don’t have any primer on hand, as your local home improvement store which primer would be best to use on your wall.

Next, once the primer is dry, you want to sand it down with the fine-grit sandpaper to even out the layer of primer with the rest of the wall. This will provide a smooth surface for the paint to be applied, so you want to make it look as fresh and flawless as possible.

Again, wipe away any excess dust with a wipe or damp cloth before painting. Then you are going to add a thin layer of paint over the stained spot with a small paintbrush or roller.

Make sure you use the same exact color paint as the rest of the wall. Use long, even strokes to apply a smooth layer of paint.

If you are using an oil-based paint, you should use a brush with natural bristles. If your paint is water or latex-based, a synthetic paintbrush would be best.

Once the paint dries, your wall should be looking as good as new! If the area needs to be slightly darker, add a second coat of paint, but just be sure it is a very thin layer so the wall remains even and smooth and you won’t even be able to tell the difference.

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