How Do You Take Wallpaper Off The Wall

How Do You Take Wallpaper Off The Wall

How Do You Take Wallpaper Off The Wall

Introduction to Wallpaper Removal Process

The process of removing wallpaper is a necessary task when it comes to renovating a room or updating the interior décor. However, it can seem like a daunting task especially if the wallpaper has been up for a long time. In this section, we will shed light on the basics of the wallpaper removal process and include some useful tips to make the process easier.

Understanding the Type of Wallpaper

Before starting the removal process, it is important to identify the type of wallpaper that is currently on the wall. There are primarily three types of wallpaper: strippable, peelable, and traditional. Each type requires a different removal technique.

The Basic Tools Required

For this task, you will need some basic tools such as a scorer, a scraping tool, a steamer or wallpaper removal solution, and lots of patience. A scorer is used to create small punctures in the wallpaper which will help the solution or steam penetrate the wallpaper better.


Before you start scraping the wallpaper off, take time to prepare the room. Remove any furniture and cover the floor with plastic sheets or drop cloths. It is also advisable to switch off the electricity to the room and remove all switch plates and outlet covers.

Application of Wallpaper Removal Solution or Steamer

Once your room is prepared and you have scored your wallpaper, you can start applying the wallpaper removal solution or use a steamer. Always remember to start from the top and move downwards.

Removing the Wallpaper

After the solution or steam has penetrated the wallpaper, you can start peeling it off. Use your scraping tool to remove the residue and be as gentle as possible to avoid damaging the wall.


Once all the wallpaper is removed, it will often leave behind some adhesive residue. Clean this off using warm soapy water or a specialised adhesive remover.

Final Touches

After you have thoroughly cleaned the wall, allow it to dry completely. Patch any holes or cracks with joint compound and sand the surface smooth. You are then ready to paint or apply new wallpaper to your beautifully prepped wall.

Evaluating the Type, Condition, and Age of the Wallpaper

Before beginning the wallpaper removal process, it is essential to accurately identify the wallpaper's composition, its condition, and its age. These factors considerably influence the method of removal and the intensity of effort needed.

Identifying the Type of Wallpaper

There are several types of wallpapers, and each may necessitate a distinct removal approach. Some common types include vinyl, non-woven, and paper-based wallpaper. Vinyl wallpapers are waterproof and usually peelable, making them relatively easy to remove. Non-woven wallpapers are breathable, which may inhibit the penetration of water when trying to soften the adhesive for removal. Paper-based wallpapers, particularly those older, could be more difficult to remove and may require a scoring tool to aid in the process.

Determining the Condition of the Wallpaper

The condition of the wallpaper is another significant factor to bear in mind. If the wallpaper is in good condition, it is normally easier to remove. Bubbles, peeling edges or discolouration may aid in loosening the wallpaper from the wall. However, if the wallpaper is severely damaged or worn, it might be more adhered to the wall and require extra effort or tools for removal.

Estimating the Age of the Wallpaper

Ancient wallpapers tend to be more challenging to remove than newer ones for several reasons. Firstly, the adhesive used in old wallpapers is usually stronger than that used in modern versions. Secondly, old wallpapers may have been painted over, which adds another layer of complexity to the removal process. Also, the wall surface beneath old wallpaper could be damaged or uneven, requiring more careful handling to avoid causing further damage.

Tips for Evaluating the Wallpaper

When examining the wallpaper, consider using a putty knife to lift a small section in an inconspicuous area, this allows you to identify the type and assess the adherence to the wall. It's also recommended to visually inspect the wallpaper to detect signs of aging or damage.

Although this process may initially seem time-consuming, it is a crucial step to ensure the most efficient and effective removal technique is selected.

Gathering the Essential Wallpaper Removal Tools

When it comes to wallpaper removal, having the right tools in hand can make the task easier and more efficient. Here are the key items you'll need:

Steam Wallpaper Stripper

This piece of equipment is generally used for wallpapers that are difficult to remove. A steam wallpaper stripper works by loosening the adhesive under the wallpaper, making it easy to peel off. They can be rented from most tool rental companies.

Chemical Wallpaper Stripper

If using steam doesn't appeal to you, you can always opt for a chemical wallpaper stripper. Available in liquid or gel forms, these chemicals work by breaking down the wallpaper paste so that the wallpaper can be easily scraped off. Remember to wear gloves and eye protection, and ensure proper ventilation when using chemical strippers.

Scoring Tool

A scoring tool is used to create tiny holes in the wallpaper. This helps the steam or chemicals to penetrate the wallpaper and reach the glue underneath. It is particularly useful with vinyl wallpapers, which are waterproof.

Bucket and Sponge

A bucket filled with warm water and a sponge are used to apply the wallpaper remover (steam or chemical). This dampens the wallpaper and assists in the removal process. A sponge is also useful for cleaning the wall afterwards.


A scraper is used to scrape off the wet wallpaper once the glue has been loosened. Look for a scraper that has a sharp blade for the best results.

Protective Materials

Finally, get some protective materials such as drop cloths or old newspapers to protect your floor from any leaks or spills that may occur during the process. Goggles and gloves will protect your hands and eyes from any chemical splashes or sharp objects.

Once all these tools are gathered, you can begin the process of removing the wallpaper. This can often be a time-consuming task, but the end result will be worth it when you see your clean, prepared walls ready for their new decor.

Pro Tip

Always start with a small, inconspicuous area when using a new tool or method. Educate yourself on the paper type you are dealing with and verify your approach by testing it in a small area first. This way, if it doesn't work as anticipated, you can make adjustments to your process quickly without causing significant damage to your walls.

Preliminary Steps before Starting the Wallpaper Removal

Before proceeding to remove the wallpaper, there are few crucial steps that need to be undertaken to ensure a smooth and efficient removal process. These steps are intended to prepare both the wall and the individual for the task ahead, ensuring minimal damage and personal safety.

Clear and Cover the Room

Firstly, all furniture should be either moved out of the room or placed in the center and covered by plastic or cloth sheets to prevent damage. Floor coverings such as drop cloths or canvas tarps should be implemented to collect fallen wallpaper and paste to make the cleanup process easier. If the room has any ventilation openings, they should also be sealed to prevent dust and debris dispersion.

Turn Off Electrical Power

Before beginning the wallpaper removal process, it's important to turn off the power to that room. This is a safety measure to prevent electrical shocks while dealing with wet sponges or steamers in close proximity to outlets and switches. After the power is off, you may wish to cover the outlets and switches with plastic for added protection.

Check for Any Structural Issues

Before starting the wallpaper removal, inspect the wall for any damages. Record any cracks, dampness or mold; these should be addressed once the wallpaper is removed. Ignoring such problems may lead to more significant issues down the line.

Determine the Type of Wallpaper

Wallpapers can be of different types and may require different removal methods. Determine whether the wallpaper is strippable, peelable or traditional. Strippable and peelable wallpapers are usually easier to remove, but traditional wallpapers may need a solvent or steam to assist with removal.

Preparation of Tools

When all of the above are completed, it is crucial to prepare the tools you will need. Among them a wallpaper scorer, removal solution or a steamer, a wide putty knife and sponge. Essential personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles and a long-sleeved shirt should also be prepared.

Test a Small Section

Finally, a test removal of a small section of wallpaper can help identify any potential difficulties. If the wallpaper doesn’t come off easily, or damages the wall surface, the method may need to be adjusted.

Techniques for Wet and Dry Wallpaper Removal

There are several techniques for wallpaper removal which are distinguished into two main types: wet and dry methods.

Wet Wallpaper Removal

The most commonly used and effective method is wet removal. This method is suitable for all types of wallpaper. However, it can be a bit messy. Here's how you do it:

Step 1: Preparation

First, protect your floor with drop cloths or old newspapers to avoid any damage from the water or wallpaper residue. Wear protective gloves and goggles for safety.

Step 2: Score the wallpaper

Use a wallpaper scoring tool to make small holes in the wallpaper. This will allow the water solution to penetrate the wallpaper and loosen the adhesive.

Step 3: Apply the wallpaper stripping solution

Next, apply a wallpaper stripper solution generously using a sponge or sprayer. You can purchase a ready-made solution or make your own by mixing hot water and fabric softener in equal parts.

Step 4: Wait and Scrape

After letting the solution soak for 15-20 minutes, begin to scrape the wallpaper off using a scraping tool. Be careful not to damage your wall in this process.

Dry Wallpaper Removal

This method is less common as it takes more time and effort, but it's an option if you want to avoid the mess of the wet method. Here's how:

Step 1: Prepare your work area

Before starting, make sure to protect your floor and furniture from any debris using a drop cloth or old newspapers. Ensure to wear safety glasses and gloves before starting the process.

Step 2: Peel off the wallpaper

Lower quality or older wallpapers may simply peel off. Start at a corner or seam and try peeling the wallpaper off dry.

Step 3: Use a Scrapper

For stubborn wallpapers, use a wallpaper scraper to remove the remaining wallpaper. Be cautious not to damage your wall during this process.

Remember, no method is perfect and you may need to combine techniques or try different methods to effectively remove wallpaper. Have patience and take your time for the best results.

Dealing with Difficult Spots and Residue

Just like any other restoration process, removing wallpaper can sometimes present certain challenging aspects, especially dealing with difficult spots and residues that are left behind. The ease or difficulty of these tasks largely depends on the type and age of the wallpaper, the adhesive used and the wall condition underneath.

Struggling With Stubborn Areas

For stubborn areas where the wallpaper adhesive resists even the most rigorous scraping, there's an effective approach to take. Soak a sponge in a mixture of hot water and dish soap or vinegar, then press it against the stubborn spot for about a minute. This should soften the glue making it easier to scrape off. A second, or in some cases, third repeat of this process might be necessary.

Getting Rid of Leftover Adhesive

Once the wallpaper is off, often you'll be left with some adhesive on the wall. It's essential to remove it before moving forward with your wall treatment. You can tackle this by saturating the adhesive with a stripping solution and letting it sit several minutes before scraping it off. Use a sponge and warm water to wipe down the walls afterwards, ensuring any stray adhesive is removed.

Solutions for Drywall Damage

Even when taking extreme care, it's possible wallpaper removal can lead to some nicks and scratches on the drywall underneath. You can fill these small damages with a thin layer of joint compound, then sand it down for a smooth finish. In case of larger damages, a professional may need to repair the drywall.

Tips for Wallpaper Stripping Solution

While commercial wallpaper strippers are available, you can also make your own less toxic, eco-friendly version at home. Combine hot water and fabric softener at a 1:1 ratio and spray it on the wallpaper. This mixture is usually effective at loosening the adhesive for easy wallpaper removal.

Fibre Lining Papers

If you have decorated over a lining paper, you may find it difficult to remove. As a solution, you may hang a plain, paintable paper over the top instead to create a fresh canvas for your new wallpaper or paintwork.

Testing for Asbestos

For homes built before the 1980s, there could be a risk of asbestos in the old wallpaper. Before you start the removal process, please consider having the wallpaper tested for asbestos. If positive results are found, contact a professional for removal.

Prevention is Better Than Cure

Last of all, when applying new wallpaper, always use a high-quality adhesive and an appropriate amount. This will make the process of future wallpaper removal significantly easier and save you a lot of hassle in the long-run.

Tips for Ensuring Damage-Free Wall Surface

Whether you are replacing wallpaper or preparing your wall for a fresh coat of paint, it's crucial to remove the old wallpaper without damaging the wall surface. Here are some tried and tested tips from an expert that will leave your wall damage-free:

Preparation is Key

Before you attempt the removal process, it's important to protect any items and furniture around the room by covering them with a plastic sheet. Also, prepare your workspace by placing absorbent towels or old newspapers on the floor to absorb any wallpaper removal solution that might drip down during the process.

Use the Right Tools and Techniques

Using the correct tools and technique is vital to care for your wall. Consider using a wallpaper scorer to create tiny holes in the wallpaper. This will allow the stripping solution to penetrate the wallpaper and dissolve the adhesive without damaging the wall surface.

Be Gentle During the Stripping Process

When removing the wallpaper, start from the corner and peel it off slowly and gently. If the wallpaper isn't peeling off easily, apply more removal solution and wait a bit longer. Avoid using any sharp tools that might damage the wall.

Use Specialized Wallpaper Remover

Specialized wallpaper remover is designed to break down wallpaper glue without seeping into the wall and causing damage. Following the manufacturer's instructions, make sure to thoroughly rinse the wall after using the remover to prevent any residue from settling.

Carefully Repair Any Damage

If you do notice any small nicks or blemishes on the wall after the stripping process, patch them up using a joint compound. Sand the area smoothly once the compound dries to ensure a smooth finish, ready for new wallpaper or paint.

Final Wall Cleanup

Once your wallpaper is successfully removed, don't forget to clean your wall with soap and water to get rid of any remaining glue residue. A final gentle sanding would be beneficial to smooth the surface out before any painting or wallpapering.

Remember, patience is essential in protecting your walls. Taking the time to vigilantly remove wallpaper can maintain your walls' integrity and ensure they remain damage-free for the next phase of your decorating journey.

Preparing Wall for New Paint or Wallpaper After Removal

Once all the old wallpaper has been removed, the wall is ready to be prepped for either new paint or wallpaper. This is an essential step to ensure a smooth and professional finish. Here is how you go about it:

Cleaning the Wall

Start by cleaning the wall thoroughly. Fill a bucket with warm water and a small amount of dish soap. Using a sponge or soft cloth, gently wash the walls to remove any remaining glue or residue. Rinse with clear water and let the wall dry completely.

Repairing Damage

It's not uncommon for the wall's surface to get slightly damaged during the wallpaper removal process. Look for any holes, cracks, or rough patches. Use joint compound and a putty knife to fill in any minor damage. For larger holes or significant damage, you may want to consult a professional.

Sanding the Wall

Sanding the wall is an essential step to achieving a smooth surface. Using a fine grade sandpaper, lightly sand the entire wall. This will help remove any remaining bits of wallpaper or paste and create a smooth surface for the new paint or wallpaper to adhere to. Remember to wear a mask during this step to avoid inhaling any dust.

Priming the Wall

Priming is the final preparation step before applying new paint or wallpaper. A primer is a type of paint that creates a barrier between the original wall and the new paint or wallpaper. It helps the new covering adhere better and last longer. It also prevents any colors or patterns from the old wallpaper from showing through. Apply a coat of primer using a brush or roller and let it dry completely.

Proper preparation takes time, but it ensures a high-quality finish that will last for years. Whether you plan on applying new paint or wallpaper, proper wall prep is key to a job well done.