How To Get Wallpaper Off

How To Get Wallpaper Off

How To Get Wallpaper Off

Introduction to Wallpaper Removal

Dealing with old, stubborn wallpaper can be a challenging undertaking. Whether it's because you're keen on a fresh new look for your space, or the existing wallpaper is simply looking worn and dated - the task of wallpaper removal can sometimes feel a little daunting. However, if equipped with the right information, tools, and patience, you can transform this seemingly cumbersome task into a manageable and even rewarding project.

Understanding the Wallpaper Removal Process

Entering the wallpaper removal process requires an understanding that the difficulty and time expended can vary greatly based on a few different factors. The type of wallpaper, the age and condition of the wallpaper, and the application method originally used will all impact how easily the wallpaper can be removed.

The Importance of Preparation

Like any home improvement project, successful wallpaper removal lies heavily in preparation. Preparatory steps such as protecting your floors, keeping your tools at hand, and preparing your walls can drastically improve the overall experience of wallpaper removal and prevent unnecessary damage to your walls and surrounding areas.

Tools Required

The basic tools necessary for wallpaper removal include a wallpaper scoring tool, a wallpaper removal solution, and a scraper. While there are a variety of specialized tools available, these basics will get you through most wallpaper removal tasks.

Techniques for Wallpaper Removal

There are several different techniques for wallpaper removal which can be applied, each with their various pros and cons. These techniques, such as dry stripping, steam removal, or chemical removal, will be dictated largely by the type of wallpaper you are trying to remove and the room you are working in.

Dry Stripping

Dry stripping is a technique that only works for newer wallpapers that are designed to be removable. It involves pulling off the top layer of the paper, then soaking the remaining backing with water and a stripping solution and scraping it off.

Steam Removal

Steam removal uses a steamer to loosen the paste between the wallpaper and the wall, allowing you to scrape off the paper. This method is effective but can be messy and possibly dangerous if not handled correctly.

What to Expect After Wallpaper Removal

Once the wallpaper is removed, some additional tasks may be required before the wall is ready for painting or new wallpaper. These might include wall repairs, primer application, or even a skim coat of joint compound to smooth the wall surface.

Understanding Different Types of Wallpaper

Before one can delve into the task of removing wallpaper, it's crucial to understand the diverse types of wallpapers and the materials they're composed of. Wallpapers vary significantly and so do their removal techniques—knowing just exactly what you are dealing with can simplify the removal process and prevent unnecessary damage to your walls.

Traditional Wallpaper

Traditional wallpaper is likely the one most people are familiar with. It's a decorative surface, usually made from paper or fibre, that is printed with countless patterns and designs. Traditional wallpaper is pasted onto walls using a special adhesive. Removal often involves dampening the surface to soften the glue for peeling or scraping off.

Vinyl Wallpaper

Vinyl wallpaper consists of a paper base with a coating of vinyl, making it durable and water-resistant. It's available in two types: paper-backed and fabric-backed. Both types can resist humidity and are ideal for kitchens, bathrooms, and high-traffic areas. Due to the vinyl coating, water doesn't easily penetrate this wallpaper, hence either a scoring tool or a chemical stripper is necessary for removal.

Grasscloth Wallpaper

Grasscloth wallpaper is a type of wall covering that’s made from woven grasses or reeds. This eco-friendly choice presents a unique texture and adds a touch of nature to the interior. However, its delicate property makes it a bit tricky when it comes to removal, needing a great deal of care to prevent ripping or damaging the underlying wall surface.

Textured Wallpaper

Textured wallpapers feature an embossed design that can provide depth and interest to your walls. The raised patterns can be felt when running your hand over the surface. Depending on their material composition, the removal methods could range from water-based soaking, chemical solutions, steaming to scoring techniques.

Flock Wallpaper

Flock wallpaper has a velvety, raised pattern and is often used in formal dining rooms or bedrooms for a luxurious touch. Being made of waste wool or synthetic fibres, its removal can be a significant challenge, typically requiring a stripper solution or a wallpaper steamer to loosen the adhesive.

Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper

Increasingly popular, peel-and-stick wallpaper is a removable wallpaper that's easy to install and remove. As the name implies, you simply peel off the backing and stick the paper to the wall. While removal is generally easy, leaving no sticky residue behind, special care must be taken not to stretch or tear the paper during the process.

Metallic Wallpaper

Metallic wallpapers consist of a paper base with a shiny, metallic surface. They're intended to give a space a chic, luxurious look. However, their metallic finish can make the removal process a bit more challenging than with other types, often requiring a combination of scoring and stripping techniques.

Understanding the nature and characteristics of these different types of wallpapers sets you in the best position for a successful removal. In the next section, we will delve into the various techniques and tools you can utilise to achieve smooth, damage-free wallpaper removal.

Essential Tools for Wallpaper Removal

Removing old wallpaper can often appear as a daunting task. However, with the right tools and technique, the process can be made much simpler. Below we discuss a few tools that are essential for effective and efficient wallpaper removal.

Steam Wallpaper Stripper

A steam wallpaper stripper is one of the most efficient tools for wallpaper removal. It operates by heating water to generate steam which soaks into the wallpaper, loosening the adhesive and making it easier to scrape off. They can be hired from tool rental services, but their price makes them a good investment if you have a large job or will be removing wallpaper regularly.

Stripping Knife

This is an essential tool for physically removing paper from the wall. Stripping knives come in different sizes, but a 3-inch knife is usually more than adequate for most household jobs. They feature a wide, flat blade that is perfect for getting underneath the wallpaper and lifting it away from the wall.

TSP (Trisodium Phosphate)

Some wallpapers, particularly those that are older, may require a bit more effort to remove. In these cases, a solution of TSP is extremely helpful. TSP is a strong cleaner that helps to break down the adhesive used on wallpaper, making it much easier to strip off.

Scoring Tool

A wallpaper scoring tool is used to create tiny holes in the wallpaper. These holes allow the steam or removal solution to penetrate the wallpaper and break down the adhesive making the removal process easier.

Bucket and Sponge

A sponge and bucket of warm water are always handy for wetting the wallpaper and cleaning up any residue left on the walls.

Safety Gloves and Goggles

Safety is paramount during wallpaper removal. Gloves protect your hands from the hot steam and potentially harmful TSP solution, while goggles protect your eyes from any splashes.

With these essential tools, the process of removing wallpaper becomes less challenging and more efficient. Ensure you take your time and prepare the room in advance for the best results.

Precautionary Measures before Starting the Process

Wallpaper removal can sometimes be a messy and labor-intensive task. It is very crucial to take some preparatory steps to ensure that the process is efficient, safe and causes minimal damage to your walls. This section will offer a detailed guide on all the necessary precautionary measures to take before you start the removal process.

Prepare the Space

The first thing to consider before starting is to prepare the room. This usually involves moving out all the furniture, if possible, or covering it with plastic sheets to protect from water and wallpaper scraps. Also, cover the floor, especially carpeted areas, with a drop cloth to make clean up easier.

Use Protective Wear

Protection for yourself is just as important. Always wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from the wallpaper stripper, which can be a skin irritant. Safety glasses or goggles are also advised to keep your eyes safe from potential splashes of hot water or the stripper solution.

Ensure Proper Ventilation

Wallpaper removal can release dust particles, and if you’re using a chemical stripper, it can introduce toxic fumes into your home environment. Hence, make sure the room is well ventilated by keeping windows open and using fans if necessary.

Check for Asbestos

Very old wallpaper or adhesive can contain asbestos, which is hazardous if disturbed or removed incorrectly. If your home was built before 1980, consider testing for asbestos before proceeding with the removal.

Identify the Wallpaper Type

Wallpaper comes in different types, including strippable and traditional. Understanding the type of wallpaper you have will dictate your removal method. Strippable wallpaper can be peeled off with relative ease, while traditional types will need to be soaked with a removal solution before scraping.

Prepare Your Tools

Last but not least, gather all your removal tools and have them handy. This will typically include a scoring tool, a spray bottle for water or wallpaper remover solution, a scraper and towels or sponges for cleanup. This ensures a smooth, efficient process once you start the wallpaper removal undertaking.

Step-by-Step Guide to Removing Wallpaper

Removing wallpaper can seem challenging, but if armed with the proper instructions and materials, it can be a straightforward task. Our goal is to help make the process as efficient and stress-free as possible. Below you'll find a simple, step-by-step guide to removing wallpaper from your walls.

Materials and Equipment You Will Need

To start with, gather all your necessary materials and equipment. Here's what you'll need:

  • Scoring tool
  • Wallpaper stripper solution
  • Bucket and sponge
  • Putty knife
  • Towels and drop cloths
  • Latex gloves and safety glasses

Step One: Prepare the Area

Firstly, remove any furniture or wall fixtures, cover the floor with drop cloths and towels to protect it from drips and spills. Make sure the area is well-ventilated as the wallpaper stripper solution can emit strong fumes.

Step Two: Score the Wallpaper

Use a scoring tool to create small holes in the wallpaper. Be careful not to press too hard or you risk damaging the underlying wall. These holes will allow the stripper solution to penetrate the wallpaper and adhesive beneath.

Step Three: Apply the Wallpaper Stripper Solution

Follow the instructions on the wallpaper stripper solution to prepare it in a bucket. Next, use a sponge to apply the solution to the wallpaper. Let the solution absorb for the time indicated by the manufacturer.

Step Four: Start Stripping the Wallpaper

Once the solution is absorbed, you should find the wallpaper easier to remove. Use a putty knife to start scraping the wallpaper off, starting from the bottom and working your way up. Be patient and don't rush this step as rushing could result in damage to the surfaces beneath.

Step Five: Clean Up

After removing all the wallpaper, clean off any remaining adhesive with a warm soapy solution and a sponge. Rinse the wall thoroughly and let it dry.

Important Tip

Remember to stay patient during this process. Although it may be tempting to peel away the wallpaper quickly, doing so might damage your walls. Slow and steady yields the best results when removing wallpaper.

Handling Difficult and Stubborn Wallpaper

Sometimes, you may encounter wallpaper that just refuses to come off, no matter how patient and gentle you are. This is typically due to the adhesive being exceptionally strong, the wallpaper material being very durable, or a combination of the two. Fortunately, there are solutions for even the most stubborn of wallpapers.

Use a Wallpaper Scoring Tool

One of the most effective tools for removing stubborn wallpaper is a wallpaper scoring tool. This small hand-held device has multiple wheels with sharp teeth that create small perforations in the wallpaper. These perforations allow your wallpaper stripper solution to penetrate deeper into the adhesive layer which makes it easier to remove.

Invest in a Wallpaper Steamer

For particularly stubborn wallpaper, a wallpaper steamer can really make a difference. This device heats water to produce steam which is then applied to the wallpaper. The heat and moisture from the steam help to soften and dissolve the adhesive, making it easier to strip off the wallpaper. Always take caution when using a wallpaper steamer as the steam can cause burns.

Use a Combination of Methods

Often, a combination of methods can effectively remove stubborn wallpaper. After scoring the wallpaper, apply a generous amount of a wallpaper stripper solution. Allow this to soak in for several minutes before using a wallpaper scraper to gently remove the wallpaper. If the wallpaper still doesn't budge, a wallpaper steamer can be used to further soften the adhesive.

Safety Precautions

Safety should never be overlooked when removing stubborn wallpaper. Always make sure to wear protective gloves to avoid any potential skin irritation from the stripping solution or burns from the wallpaper steamer. If you're working in a room with poor ventilation, consider wearing a mask or respirator to avoid inhaling any potentially harmful fumes.

Calling in a Professional

If you've tried everything and that stubborn wallpaper still won't budge, don't despair. It might be time to call in a professional. With their experience and special equipment, they can help you remove your stubborn wallpaper with minimal damage to your walls.

Patch and Prep your Walls

Once the stubborn wallpaper is removed, don’t forget to patch any potential damages before decorating your wall. Smoothen the surface with sandpaper and apply a suitable primer to keep your wall looking immaculate and ready for its new look.

Final Tips and Tricks

Lastly, remember that old wallpaper may consist of multiple layers that were painted over. It can be time-consuming and requires patience to remove. Using the right tools and solutions can certainly aid in the process but sometimes it's just a matter of time and effort. Never rush the process as it could lead to more damage.

Tips for Cleaning and Preparing the Wall for Redecoration

Before redecorating, it's essential to thoroughly clean and prepare the wall. Doing so ensures that your new wall cover or paint sticks properly and lasts longer. Here we take you through the steps of cleaning and preparing the wall for redecoration.

Cleaning the Wall

To clean the wall thoroughly, you will need a sponge, dishwashing soap, and lukewarm water. Start by wiping the wall clean using the sponge soaked in a mix of water and soap. After a few seconds, rinse the soap off with a sponge dampened with clean water. Finally, allow the wall to dry naturally or speed up the process using fans or heaters if necessary.

Tip 1: Always Clean from Top to Bottom

When cleaning walls, always start from the top and work your way down. This prevents dirty water from dripping onto clean areas.

Tip 2: Use a Mild Detergent

For painted walls, use only mild detergent to avoid damaging the paint. Also, don't scrub too hard as it may cause the paint to chip.

Preparing the Wall

After cleaning, it's necessary to prepare the wall for redecoration. This may require tasks such as filling any holes or cracks with putty and sanding the wall to create a smooth surface.

Tip 3: Don't Rush the Preparation

Preparation is vital for achieving a professional finish. Ensure that you take enough time to get your walls as smooth as possible before redecorating.

Tip 4: Priming Is Key

To ensure excellent adhesion of the new paint or wallpaper, consider priming the surface especially if the wall is dark, stained, or has been patched.

By following these tips, you will ensure that your wall is adequately prepared for redecoration, guaranteeing a smoother, more durable finish for your planned decor.

Key Takeaways from Wallpaper Removal Process

Understanding the intricacies of wallpaper removal methods is essential to achieving a clean, residue-free surface after completing the task.

Patience is Crucial

It's easy to forget that rushing the process might cause more harm than good in the long run. The removal of wallpaper can be a challenging task. Impatience might lead to unnecessary damage to the wall structure, so patience is a virtue.

Quality Tools are Essential

Proper tools and equipment, including a scraper, steamer, or a stripping solution, are vital to make the job easier. Investing in quality tools ensures a smoother, damage-free removal process.

Initial Inspections

Prior inspection of the wall must never be skipped. It helps identify wall conditions, the type of wallpaper used, and the adherence material involved, enabling you to choose the best method for removal.

Wallpaper Types Matter

The types of wallpaper and adhesive used will heavily influence the removal method. Some wallpapers, like peelable types, are easier to remove than others. Meanwhile, traditional wallpapers may require soaking or specialized solutions for removal.

Safety Precautions

Considering safety measures is important. Wearing protective clothing, like gloves and safety goggles, should not be overlooked. Furthermore, ensuring the room is properly ventilated is key when working with chemicals in some stripping solutions.


Cleaning up after wallpaper removal often requires significant effort. The technique used for removal will affect the type and amount of mess made. Selecting a method that minimizes mess can simplify the post-removal cleaning process.

Damage Control

Finally, some level of damage to the underlying surface is inevitable. However, it can be managed and minimized with careful scraping and the careful application of steam or a stripping solution.

Hence, understanding these key takeaways will assure an efficient and effective wallpaper removal process.