How Do Professionals Remove Wallpaper

How Do Professionals Remove Wallpaper

How Do Professionals Remove Wallpaper

Understanding the Basics: Why Professionals Remove Wallpaper

Wallpaper, while it can add distinct style and personality to any room, does not last forever. Over time, its once vibrant colors may fade and its edges may start to peel. Or perhaps, the wallpaper is simply outdated and the homeowner is ready to modernize the space. In such instances, the removal of the wallpaper becomes necessary. However, the process of removing wallpaper is often a tedious, labor-intensive task that requires a certain level of skill and precision. That's where the professionals come in.

Professional Wallpaper Removal: Necessity and Expertise

Professional wallpaper removal services can ensure that the job is done efficiently and correctly - without causing unnecessary damage to the walls. They have the expertise to deal with various types of wallpaper, the tools to do the job quickly, and the know-how to handle unexpected issues that may arise.

Types of Wallpaper

There are many different types of wallpaper - vinyl, foil, flocked, embossed, to name a few. Each type requires a different method of removal. Professionals are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to handle the unique demands of each kind.

Vinyl Wallpaper

Vinyl wallpaper is one of the most common types. It's beloved for its durability, but when it comes to removal, its resilience is less appreciated. Professionals are equipped with special solvents to break down the sturdy adhesive, allowing the paper to be stripped without damaging the wall underneath.

Flocked and Foil Wallpaper

Flocked and foil wallpaper pose their own unique challenges. These types of wallpaper are often adhered with strong glues that can linger on the underlying wall surface even after the paper has been removed. Again, professionals will have the appropriate tools and solutions to handle these problematic types.

Efficiency and Speed

One of the main benefits of hiring a professional to undertake this task is speed. Due to their vast experience, they can strip wallpaper far quicker than an amateur could. They also ensure clean removal without leaving any residues, which could lead to issues when repainting or re-wallpapering the wall.

Detecting and Handling Unexpected Issues

Often, the removal of wallpaper can reveal unexpected issues, such as mold, damaged drywall, or old paint. Your professional wallpaper removal service is capable of identifying these problems and deciding the best course of action.

Damage Control

Improper wallpaper removal can lead to significant damage to the underlying wall. Rips, scratches, and dents are potential risks of DIY removal attempts. But by hiring professionals, homeowners can minimize these risks.

Overall, hiring a professional for wallpaper removal is a worthwhile investment. They can save homeowners time, hassle, and potentially even money in the long run by doing the job quickly, correctly, and without unnecessary damage.

Preliminary Steps: Preparing the Room and Wall for Wallpaper Removal

Before you begin the actual work of wallpaper removal, some preparatory steps are essential to make the process smoother. This doesn't only include gathering your tools, but also preparing the room and wall for the task ahead.

Preparing the Room

The very first step is to clear the room as much as possible. This includes removing furniture and wall hangings. If any furniture cannot be removed, move it to the center and cover it with a drop cloth. After clearing the room, cover your floor with a drop cloth or plastic sheeting. This will protect it from any moisture or residue.

Dealing With Electrical Outlets and Switches

Next, turn off electricity to the room to ensure your safety during the process, and remove the covers from all electrical outlets and switches. Cover the exposed switches and outlets with tape to protect them.

Coordinating Your Tools

Gather all the necessary tools required for the process. Typical tools include a scoring tool, a wallpaper scraper, a sponge, buckets, and a solution for softening the wallpaper (which could be a commercial product or a DIY mixture). Other possibly necessary items include a steamer and safety gear such as gloves or safety goggles. Arranging these ahead of time will streamline your workflow and enhance efficiency.

Assessing the Wall

It's also important to evaluate the wall before you begin. This can help you plan your approach to removing the wallpaper. Depending on whether the wallpaper was applied directly to drywall or to a layer of primer can greatly affect how you proceed.

Tackling Layers

If there are multiple layers of wallpaper, you'll need to peel off as many top layers as possible before softening the adhesive underneath. This task becomes more challenging if the wallpaper is vinyl, as this material is water-resistant and thus harder to remove with water-based solutions.

Spot Testing

At this stage, you should also do a spot test with your wallpaper removal solution or steamer on a small, inconspicuous area of the wall. This will tell you how easily the wallpaper will come off and will also alert you to any potential damage to the wall underneath.

Proposed Approach

Based on the information gained from your assessment and spot testing, you can then form a strategy for removing the wallpaper. Always start from the top and work your way down to avoid damaging the wall or creating more work for yourself.

Equipment and Materials: Tools Professionals Use for Wallpaper Removal

When it comes to professional wallpaper removal, there's a comprehensive set of tools that experts use to make the process smoother and more effective. These tools are designed to handle different aspects of the task - from peeling off the paper, to removing the stubborn glue, and finally cleaning off any residue.


The first tool is a scraper. This device scrapes off the old wallpaper and is usually made of metal with a flat edge. The usefulness of a scraper is extensive from peeling off large sections to chipping away at stubborn areas - making it an indispensable tool.

Steaming Tool

Secondly, a steaming tool or steam cleaner is another essential device used by professionals. The steam is used to moisten and loosen the wallpaper glue, making it easier to scrape off the old paper.

Wallpaper Scoring Tool

A wallpaper scoring tool, also known as a "paper tiger," is used to perforate the wallpaper. By creating tiny holes in the wallpaper, the steam or gel can penetrate and reach the adhesive backing, aiding in the removal process.

Gel or Solvent

Wallpaper removing gel or solvent is used to break down the glue that holds the wallpaper onto the wall. These solutions are applied to the wallpaper and left to soak before the wallpaper is scraped off.

Sponge and Bucket

This is a simple but necessary set of tools. A sponge and a bucket of hot water are often used to moisten the wallpaper and clean off any residue once the paper has been peeled off.

Dust Sheets

Professionals also use dust sheets to protect the floor and furniture from water and debris during the wallpaper removal process.

Safety Gear

Last but not least, safety gear. Safety goggles prevent dust or particles from entering your eyes, gloves protect hands from chemicals and irritants, and a dust mask protects the lungs from potentially harmful dust inhalation.

What these Tools Achieve

Precisely put, these tools are helping professionals to perform a seamless wallpaper removal process. They ensure the task is effective, efficient, and safe, causing minimal damage to the walls and ensuring a clean surface ready for redecoration.

Safeguarding Against Damage: Protective Measures before Starting the Process

Before commencing the process of wallpaper removal, it is imperative to take certain precautions to minimize the potential damage to your walls. The initial steps set the tone for the result of your project. Therefore, to ensure a smooth and damage-free wallpaper removal process, follow the measures discussed below:

Prepare Your Work Area

Preparing your work area is essential in ensuring minimal mess during the process. Start by removing or moving furniture out of the room. For pieces that cannot be moved, cover them with drop cloths to shield them from water and wallpaper scrapings. On the floor, lay out absorbent drop cloths that will catch water drips and soaked wallpaper pieces; this will help make your cleanup easier afterward.

Switch Off Electrical Outlets

Water, which is often used in wallpaper removal, can be detrimental when it comes into contact with electricity. It is therefore crucial to switch off the electricity and unscrew outlet covers and switch plates before beginning the task. You may also want to use a voltage tester to ensure that outlets are safe. Cover them with protective plastic and secure it with painter’s tape to prevent them from getting wet.

Protect Walls and Trim

Wallpaper removal can occasionally get messy, with water and wallpaper removal solution possibly splashing onto your walls and trim. To protect these surfaces, cover them using plastic sheeting and secure it using painter’s tape at the edges to prevent any seepage of water or solution behind the sheeting.

Safety Gear

While wallpaper removal is not necessarily dangerous, it can be messy, wet, and strenuous. Wear clothes that you won’t mind getting dirty or stained. Safety goggles will protect your eyes from the solution and scrapings, while good quality gloves will guard your hands against any potential irritants in the wallpaper paste.

Test Wall for Lead Paint

Before embarking on the wallpaper removal process, it is crucial to have your walls tested for lead-based paint, especially if your house was built before the 1980s. Lead paint can pose serious health risks when it's disturbed or exposed. Enlist a professional tester and if lead paint is confirmed, make sure you hire a certified lead abatement worker to remove the wallpaper safely.

Prep Your Tools

Having all your tools ready and nearby before you start can save a lot of time and effort. Wallpaper removal requires tools such as a scoring tool, a spray bottle filled with water or wallpaper removal solution, and a scraper. Make sure you have all these and that they are all in good working condition.


Finally, remember to be patient throughout the process. Wallpaper removal can be tedious, particularly if the wallpaper has been on your walls for many years. It might not come off easily or quickly, but with patience and diligence, you can achieve a fresh, clean look for your walls.

The Technique: Step-by-Step Guide to Professional Wallpaper Removal

Professional wallpaper removal involves a tedious yet rewarding approach to restoring your walls to their original glory. Here's how professionals remove wallpaper in a step-by-step manner:

Materials Preparation

Having the right materials at hand ensures an efficient wallpaper removal process. Professionals typically utilize a utility knife, scraper, wallpaper score tool, sponge, bucket, hot water, wallpaper removal solvent, and trash bags.

Wall Area Prepping

The first step is to clear the work area. This includes moving furniture away from the walls and covering the floor with plastic sheets or drop cloths to protect them from potential damage.

Safety Measures

The professionals ensure that the room is properly ventilated, especially when using solvent-based wallpaper removers. They also protect their hands with rubber gloves and wear goggles for eye protection.

Initial Scoring

Professionals create small perforations in the wallpaper using a scoring tool. This allows the wallpaper removal solution or hot water to penetrate in behind the wallpaper, making it easier to remove.

Hot Water and Solvent Application

A mixture of hot water and wallpaper removing solvent is then applied generously to the wallpaper. The hot water helps to melt the adhesive and the solvent breaks it down making removal easier.

Wallpaper Stripping

After the solvent has had a chance to work (usually about 15 minutes), pros start to peel off the wallpaper. They may use a scraper to help remove stubborn or large pieces.


Any remaining wallpaper bits or adhesive is wiped or scraped off and the wall surface is washed clean. Finally, they prime the wall for painting or future wallpapering.

Always remember that drastic temperature changes, use of excessive water or rough handling could potentially damage your wall, therefore, striking a balance is crucial. This balanced approach is what distinguishes professional wallpaper removal from an amateur endeavor.

Dealing with Difficulties: Tips to Handle Stubborn and Old Wallpaper

There are instances when you will encounter wallpaper that is especially difficult to remove, this is often the case with older wallpapers. However, with a little persistence and the right techniques, even the most stubborn wallpaper can be dealt with effectively. Here are some strategies and expert advice on handling such wallpapers.

1. Soften Before Stripping

Some wallpapers, especially the older ones, can be very tough and unyielding. An effective solution is to apply a wallpaper-softening solution before you start the stripping process. This solution, readily available in most home improvement stores, can help break down the wallpaper adhesive and make it easier to scrape off.

2. Use the Right Tools

Professional wallpaper removal often requires more than just your hands and a scraper. A wallpaper steamer can be a really useful tool when dealing with stubborn wallpaper. It helps to loosen the adhesive backing by driving steam into the wallpaper. As a result, the wallpaper should peel off more easily.

3. The Score and Soak Method

For particularly stubborn cases, consider using the score and soak method. This involves scoring the wallpaper with a tool, this creates tiny holes in it. You can then apply a wallpaper removal solution and let it soak in. The solution will penetrate the wallpaper through these holes, making it easier to peel off.

4. Removing Residue

After removing the wallpaper, it's important to thoroughly clean the wall to ensure any residue is removed. Failure to do so can lead to problems when repainting. To effectively clean your walls, use a sponge and a mixture of hot water and tri-sodium phosphate (TSP). Always remember to protect your hands when using TSP as it can be corrosive.

5. Patience is Key

Finally, it is crucial to remain patient during the wallpaper removal process. It can be a time consuming process, especially when dealing with stubborn and old wallpaper. Remember, the goal is not only to remove the wallpaper but also to keep the wall underneath in good condition.

6. When to Call a Pro

If you're finding the wallpaper removal process too challenging, it might be time to call in a professional. They have the skills, experience, and tools needed to remove even the most stubborn wallpaper without causing damage to the wall underneath.

7. Preventing Problems in the Future

To avoid dealing with stubborn wallpaper in the future, consider using a wallpaper primer before installation. This makes future removal easier and lessens the chance of wall damage during removal. Furthermore, when selecting a new wallpaper, consider peelable or strippable options, they are designed to be easier to remove.

8. Final Words

While removing stubborn and old wallpaper requires effort, the satisfaction of a job well done and the fresh canvas it provides for new decor is often worth it. With these tips, you should be well-equipped to tackle any wallpaper removal challenge.

Post-Removal Procedure: Cleaning and Preparing the Wall for Next Application

After you have successfully removed the wallpaper, the next critical steps involve cleaning the wall and preparing it for the next application. Following an appropriate post-removal procedure can ensure a smooth and clean surface while enhancing the effectiveness of future wallpaper applications.

Cleaning the Wall

Cleaning the wall involves removing leftover residue and ensuring a smooth surface. Start by scraping off any remaining adhesive using a putty knife. Be gentle to avoid damaging the wall. For stubborn adhesive, use a wallpaper removal solution and let it sit as per the recommended time before scraping it off gently.

Once the adhesive is fully removed, clean the walls with water and a mild detergent. A sponge or a soft cloth will suffice for this task. Ensure you rinse the walls thoroughly to remove all soap traces, as any residue might create problems when applying new wallpaper or paint.

Drying the Wall

Before you prepare the wall for the next application, make sure it's completely dry. You can achieve this either by natural air drying or using a fan or heater. The drying process is essential to prevent mildew and mold formation, ensuring the longevity and effectiveness of your subsequent wallpaper or paint application.

Repairing the Wall

In the process of removing wallpaper, you might encounter small dings and scratches on the wall. These are normal but need to be repaired before proceeding. Use a premixed drywall compound to make these repairs. Allow the compound to dry, then sand it smoothly with a sandpaper.

Applying a Wall-Sealer

Before starting the next wallpaper application, it's highly recommended to use a wall-sealer. A wall-sealer can prevent the new wallpaper from direct contact with the wall thereby reducing the chances of mildew and mold formation in future, as well as making the task of removing the wallpaper easier next time. Apply the sealant evenly across the wall and allow it to dry completely.

By following all the recommended post-removal procedures, you can ensure that the wall is in the best possible condition for the next wallpaper application, assuring not just a smoother application, but also a more durable and aesthetic finish.

Considerations for Hiring a Professional: Costs, Time, and Benefits

Deciding whether to hire a professional for wallpaper removal can be a challenging decision. It is an important consideration that draws upon several factors such as cost, time and benefits. This section aims to provide you adequate information to help you make an informed choice.


The cost of hiring a professional to remove wallpaper can vary drastically. It depends on the size of the area, complexity of wallpaper design, labor rates in your locality and whether minor wall repairs are required post-removal. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere between $1 to $3 per square foot for professional wallpaper removal.


One of the key considerations is the amount of time it would take for the job completion. Removing wallpaper is often a time-consuming job. If you were to do it yourself, it might take away your valuable weekends or free time. Professionals have the right tools and experience to complete the work more efficiently, saving you time.


There are several benefits to hiring a professional for wallpaper removal. These include:

  • High-quality Work: Professionals ensure that the wallpaper removal is done without causing damage to the underlying wall. They have the right set of tools and possess the knowledge required
  • Efficient Service: With a professional, you are guaranteed quick and efficient service. They follow a systematic process and use effective methods that save time.
  • Post-Removal Cleanup: A professional will not leave your home in a mess. Post-removal cleanup forms a part of their service.
  • Convenience: By hiring a professional, you can have your peace of mind knowing that the job is in capable hands.

In your decision to hire a professional or to DIY, weigh out these factors. Remember, while it may seem cheaper to do it yourself, the result may not be as clean, and potential damage to your wall could end up costing more in repairs.