How to Remove Wallpaper

How to Remove Wallpaper – Easy Wallpaper Stripping Guide

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Wallpaper removal would likely be necessary if you are planning on repainting to eliminate the 1970s aesthetic that has plagued your home since you moved in. Unfortunately, wallpaper seems to have a spiteful attitude as soon as you start thinking about removing it, as it is a nightmare of a task. Below, we have decided to lend a helping hand by putting together a guide on how to remove wallpaper and everything else that you would need to know about it, so let’s get started!



Importance of Proper Wallpaper Removal

We are emphasizing the word “proper” as anyone can pick up a scraping tool and go to town. However, this could cause significant damage to the wall while leaving you with an even bigger wallpaper removal project.

The reality is that learning how to remove wallpaper is a tedious, messy, and incredibly time-consuming affair that will challenge your patience.

We recommend setting aside a few days to do the job right. You will also need a plan of attack while ensuring that you have the necessary tools that are required to do the job. There are different ways for you to approach this job, so it is ultimately up to you to decide on the route that you are going to take.


Overview of the Wallpaper Removal Process

When looking at this project from the outside, it can be broken into a few steps. This includes the gathering of supplies, room preparation, identifying the type of wallpaper that you are working with, removing adhesive residue, and repairing the wall.

Wallpaper Removal Methods

The easiest way to remove wallpaper depends on you and what you have at your disposal, but this is a cheap yet infuriating task that will have you questioning why you are doing it in the first place.



Gather Necessary Supplies

As is the case with any project, you will need the necessary tools and materials that will help you to do a good job. You will need quite a shopping list of items, but the good news is that most of these can be found at home. The following items should be acquired before starting:

  • A garbage can
  • Painter’s tape
  • Plastic tarp
  • Safety glasses
  • Flat and Phillips head screwdriver
  • Fabric softener
  • Vinegar
  • Hot water
  • Pressure sprayer
  • Wallpaper scoring tool
  • 5-inch putty knife
  • Vacuum
  • Drywall sander

As we mentioned before, there are different methods of removing wallpaper. Therefore, it would be best to have everything that is featured on the list in case you decide to change your course of action.

Tackling this job with the incorrect supplies would only result in more headaches, so try and get your hands on everything if possible.



Preparing the Room

Before you can jump in and start stripping the wallpaper, you will need to create an unobstructed area without worrying about messing on your furniture or floor. Clear the walls of any shelves or decorative items that were hung on the wall after the wallpaper was applied, as these could pin the wallpaper to the wall. Then remove all furniture from the area, but if it is a large room, you could move everything to the center of the room and then cover it with a tarp or an old sheet. The goal is to have nothing that would obstruct your path or get in the way of your progress.

Prepare for Removing Wallpaper


Turning Off Electrical Outlets

This might come across as a bit dramatic to some, but it will not hurt to be careful. Turn off the electricity in the room and use painter’s tape to mask any electrical light switches and electrical outlets. Cut the wallpaper around the outlet with a craft knife so that you can easily remove the paper without having it get caught by the plate.

Once you are done with the steamer of sprayer, remove the outlet cover plate and scrape off any remaining wallpaper with a dry scraper, taking care not to damage any electrical switch components.



Testing and Identifying Wallpaper Type

There are different types of wallpaper available and your removal process will differ depending on the type of wallpaper that you are working with.

Some of the most popular types of wallpaper include paper, bamboo, textile, and vinyl, but how can you identify what type it is?

Below, we have provided some information that will assist you if you are trying to figure out what you are working with.


Importance of Identifying the Wallpaper Type

Before you can get started, you will need to determine if you have drywall or plaster walls. As you know, water and drywall do not go well together, so soaking wallpaper that has been placed on drywall will leave you with more work once you have removed the wallpaper. As we have mentioned before, there are different types of wallpaper to choose from and we have decided to give you a brief introduction to each one below.

  • Lining paper: This is not decorative wallpaper since it lacks a printed or artistic finish. It is used to prepare bare ceilings or walls for painting or wrapping with decorative wallpaper. Lining paper’s primary use is to conceal tiny defects on a surface before painting it, or to conceal a strong color previously used on ceilings or walls before applying a softer color paint or wallpaper.
  • Traditional wallpaper: Layering might be single or double; the product’s major component is cellulose. Because they are incredibly eco-friendly and allow walls to breathe, they are commonly used in bedrooms and dining areas. They are inexpensive, widely available, and can be obtained at almost any design store.
  • Vinyl wallpaper: This is a highly popular sort of wallpaper. They are composed of a paper or fiber foundation layer and a plastic top covering. Their practical advantages are apparent as they are washable, light-resistant, reasonably inexpensive, and incredibly durable, making them an excellent choice for regularly used areas such as bathrooms, dining rooms, and kitchens.
  • Embossed wallpaper: Embossed and textured wallpapers lend dimension along with interest to plain walls. The textures may vary from subtle and soft cloth impressions to bold geometrics.
  • Liquid wallpaper: They are made of cellulose as well as cotton fiber and must be applied in liquid form using the assistance of a specific pallet. Such wallpaper has a high level of adhesion to the clutch surface, allowing it to be used even in areas with unbalanced walls, flaws, and surface fractures.
  • Non-woven wallpaper: Non-woven wallpapers are the newest decorating trend. Non-wovens are constructed of a unique combination of synthetic and natural fibers that make them breathable and washable.
  • Fiberglass wallpaper: They are constructed of glass fibers woven and fused together to produce a sheet material. Because of the way the wallpaper is made, it is extremely robust and may be used to strengthen any ceiling or wall.
  • Bamboo wallpaper: Bamboo is a natural substance that is good for the environment. They retain their original color over an extended length of time. Since bamboo is a “natural” material, it is vulnerable to moisture and is difficult to clean. Many manufacturers recommend that cleaning be limited to moderate vacuuming or dusting.
  • Textile wallpaper: Feathers, twine, raffia, linen, cotton, and silk can all be utilized to stunning effect. Fabric wallpapers are ventilated, flame retardant, stain resistant, and have excellent insulating properties. They are quite costly and difficult to mount on walls.


Conducting a Test for Wallpaper That Can Be Stripped or Peeled

Despite the availability of different types of wallpaper, they can either be stripped or peeled. To test which type you are working with, all you need to do is take a large putty knife or paint scraper and find the edge of the wallpaper. Once you have found it, pry it upwards with your tool and begin peeling or scraping it off the wall. If the wallpaper starts detaching from the wall in sheets, it can be peeled, which is much easier than scraping it from the surface.

Tips for Removing Wallpaper

If the paper does not budge, you have classic wallpaper that must be stripped with water as well as a chemical remover. This is much harder to do than peeling wallpaper and another important factor to consider is when the wallpaper was installed.

If your home was built before the 1980s, you may have lead-based paint beneath the wallpaper. This requires wearing a respirator mask as inhaling lead-based paint particles can be very dangerous.


Identifying Traditional Wallpaper and Its Adhesive Type

The majority of wallpaper adhesives are manufactured from modified wheat starch. Because this starch dissolves rapidly in hot water, a steamer is an ideal way to peel off wallpaper from a big space.

In order to reactivate the glue and allow the paper to come off the wall, apply a hot water mixture to the paper as well as the adhesive backing for most wallpaper removal operations.

Some wallpapers are more soluble when compared to others and vinyl wallpapers, such as those used in kitchens and bathrooms, can even repel water. Even though wallpaper paste is the most common type available, there are a variety of other adhesives, particularly used in modern applications.



Removing Peelable or Strippable Wallpaper

Removing peelable and strippable wallpaper will require different processes, fortunately, we have provided you with the methods needed to remove both types. Keep in mind that removing strippable wallpaper is significantly easier, but you will need to keep an eye out for leftover adhesive.


Removing Strippable Wallpaper

You will need to start by gathering clean rags, water, soap, and a putty knife. These will be crucial to ensuring that the process is as easy as possible. Once you have everything, you can start with the first step. Raise the corner of the wallpaper with your putty knife. Peel the paper away from the wall using your hands, pulling as closely to the wall as possible to prevent damaging the paper. If the wallpaper rips, simply loosen a different corner and begin once more. Repeat the technique all the way around the room.

Strippable or Peelable Wallpaper

After removing all of the wallpaper, wipe the walls down with warm water and soap to eliminate any traces of glue. Before painting, let the walls thoroughly dry for 24 hours. Once the walls have dried, you can start any repairs that are needed or you can begin painting.


Removing Peelable Wallpaper

This is going to be significantly more challenging and you will need a lot more tools and materials to ensure that you can get the best results. You will need rubber gloves, clean rags, water, soap, a scoring tool, a putty knife, a spray bottle, and a store-bought wallpaper stripper. Begin by removing the upper layer of wallpaper. With a putty knife, loosen the corner and remove the wallpaper from the paper backing. You will likely experience wallpaper breaking, but do not panic, just keep peeling.

You will now need to remove the backing and this is where the headache begins.

Remove Wallpaper Adhesive

Soak a moist sponge or cloth thoroughly, allowing it to stay immersed in water for a few minutes as you work in a different location. Then, return to it and use a steamer on the paper backing, beginning at the corners, while lifting it off with a putty knife. Remove any leftover adhesive residue while it is still soft with a damp cloth while also cleaning the rest of the wall.

For more stubborn parts, you can also use a putty knife. Once this is done, allow the wall to dry and then you can start the necessary repairs.


Tips for Making the Process Easier

There are a few tips that will allow you to strip wallpaper a bit quicker while making the process easier. While it is recommended that you do not wet drywall, it is okay to expose it to moisture for no longer than 15 minutes, this will allow you to use a mop or a sponge to apply water while regulating the amount that is being used.

It would seem like a good idea to use a stiff putty knife, but we have found that using a flexible knife makes it easier and prevents the knife from digging into the wall.

It would also be better to use a putty knife that has a rounded edge. Now, you could be tempted to quit once the wallpaper has been removed, but to ensure that the wall is free of any paste residue, run your hand across areas with a dark sheen. If it feels sticky, use a gel stripper to remove the leftover paste.



Removing Traditional Wallpaper

There is no need to learn how to remove wallpaper when working with traditional wallpaper as you will know what to expect. However, this is likely the most challenging type of wallpaper to be removed. You will need all of the aforementioned materials and tools and once everything is gathered, you may begin.


How to Remove Traditional Wallpaper

As we know, removing traditional wallpaper can be a huge headache even if you are prepared. However, the steps that we have provided below will make the process much easier for you. Use a blend of hot water and store-bought wallpaper stripper as per the manufacturer’s instructions. After pouring the solution into an empty garden sprayer or spray bottle, apply the solution to a small part of the wall. Allow the solution to sit and absorb for a few minutes before moving on to the next step.

Hot Water Wallpaper Stripping Tips

Working your way up the wall, peel off the wallpaper with your putty knife. There are also specially designed scraping tools that may be useful for difficult work since they have ergonomic handles that will be more pleasant when removing all of the wallpaper paste. As you scrape, take care not to puncture the drywall. Continue to the next part after the wallpaper has been stripped from the section.

If the solution fails to absorb and you find that the wallpaper is hard to scrape, you might want to score the wall first. Make overlapping circles with a scoring tool, which is a vital wallpaper removal tool.

To eliminate any residue, clean the walls using soap and water. If the removal procedure leaves any microscopic holes in the wall, fill them with spackling paste, let it dry, and then sand away any bulges before repainting or reapplying wallpaper.


Dealing With Adhesive Residue

If your wallpaper will not budge regardless of how much you scrape and spray, you might have to rent an electric steamer. An electric steamer is a great tool for dealing with stubborn wallpaper and adhesive residue. To prepare the steamer, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Before you begin, fill the steamer with water and let heat up. Always wear protective gloves as well as long sleeves to avoid being burnt by steam.

Steamer for Removing Wallpaper Adhesive

To release the adhesive, press the steamer on the wallpaper. If you are working with drywall, make sure not to oversteam it. Remove the wallpaper using a putty knife and if the steam does not penetrate the wallpaper, cut small holes in the paper using a scoring instrument. Continue heating and scraping up until all the old wallpaper has been removed.

The final part of the process is simply cleaning the walls to ensure that there is no more adhesive residue. Once this is done, you can conduct the necessary repairs, which is relatively easy if you are working with drywall.


Which Adhesive Remover to Use

There are a few adhesive removers that can be used to make life much easier for yourself, but if you are learning how to remove wallpaper, we would recommend sticking with a store-bought adhesive remover.

DIY adhesive removers can be cheap, but they can often be a headache to mix and you will need to keep reapplying the formula.

A store-bought compound is specifically designed for the task, which means that it would make removing the adhesive along with the wallpaper itself much easier.


Repairing the Wall

Once you have the cleaning out of the way, you can start with the repair process. Look for any cracks and holes in the drywall. Most of these can be repaired with spackle, but for significant damage, we suggest replacing the panel. Once you have allowed the spackle to dry, sand the surface for a smooth finish that will be perfect for priming before painting.

Repair Walls After Removing Wallpaper



Tips and Tricks

There are a few tips and tricks that we have to share with each one capable of making the job significantly easier. While this is by no means a cheat sheet, it will help you to get the best results, especially if you are learning how to remove wallpaper.

  • Be patient, no matter which approach you use. Wallpaper removal may be a time-consuming and laborious operation.
  • The majority of wallpaper adhesives are manufactured from modified wheat starch. Because this starch dissolves rapidly in hot water, a steamer is an ideal way to remove wallpaper from a big space.
  • Removing wallpaper from drywall is made somewhat simpler if the drywall has already been treated with gloss or semi-gloss paint, which makes the drywall paper less permeable.
  • A wallpaper steamer is the ideal tool for stripping wallpaper from plaster walls. If you keep the steamer on for longer than 30 seconds at a time, the plaster may start to crack.


Wallpaper removal is an incredibly labor-intensive project that nobody would truly enjoy, but the reality is that it would need to be done. We hope that the information that we have provided will make the project easier, and that the wallpaper removal process goes by in a flash. Good luck, and remember to be patient!




Frequently Asked Questions


What Is Considered to Be the Easiest Way to Remove Wallpaper?

If you are looking for the most effective method of removing wallpaper, the combination of using a scraper tool along with a wallpaper and paste removal compound has proven to work very well. However, there are a variety of other methods that can be used, as well as dedicated tools such as wallpaper removal steamers.


Is It Possible to Use a Steamer to Strip Wallpaper?

Yes it is, and luckily for you, you will not need to invest in a wallpaper removal steamer. Instead, you can use a normal clothes steamer, but it will be slightly more difficult but still possible, as it will just take more time and patience. Steam is one of the most effective methods of stripping wallpaper as it heats up and softens the adhesive, making it much easier to remove from the wall.


Is It Easy to Learn How to Remove Wallpaper Quickly Without Leaving a Mess?

It is very difficult to learn how to remove wallpaper quickly without making a mess, as you will more than likely end up tearing off pieces of the wallpaper while scraping. There are products, such as wallpaper stripping gel, that are slightly less messy, but if you are set on not making a mess, you will need to work slowly.

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