How To Remove Wallpaper

How To Remove Wallpaper

How To Remove Wallpaper

Introduction to Wallpaper Removal

Wallpaper can dramatically change the appearance of a room, giving it character and charm. But what if you've grown tired of the design, or the wallpaper is starting to look faded or worn? Removing old, outdated wallpaper and preparing a wall for painting or new wallpaper can seem like a daunting task. However, by understanding what you're dealing with and taking the correct steps, you can successfully carry out the wallpaper removal process with minimal frustration.

The Type of Wallpaper Matters

Know that the type of wallpaper you have greatly affects how hard it will be to remove. Some wallpapers, like strippable and peelable types, are designed for easy removal. Others, like traditional or vinyl wallpapers, may require extra effort or tools. In the former case, you can usually just peel the paper off without much hassle. In the latter, you may need to use a scoring tool, a wallpaper-removal solution, and a lot of patience.

Understanding the Process

Wallpaper removal involves several steps. First, you must prepare the room to ensure the rest of your space is protected. This job may be messy, so it's a good idea to cover furniture and floors with drop cloths, and remove all wall fixtures. Next, depending on your wallpaper type, you may need to score it to allow the wallpaper solution to penetrate. Then, you'd apply the solution, let it soak in, and then scrape off the paper, being careful not to damage the wall underneath.

Safety First

The task requires some effort and potentially dealing with strong solutions, so remember safety first. Wear rubber gloves and eyewear to protect yourself from the solution, and keep the room well-ventilated. If the wall has been painted with lead-based paint, extra precautions may be needed, as disturbing this layer can release harmful lead into your environment.

Patience is Key

Lastly, remember patience is indeed a virtue when it comes to wallpaper removal. You may need to apply the solution several times before the paper starts to come away. You must also be gentle when scraping to ensure you don’t damage the wall underneath.

While it might seem like a big project, it's certainly one that's manageable when approached correctly. Just remember to take things slow, protect your space, and most importantly, practice safe procedures while executing these steps.

Necessary Tools for Wallpaper Removal

Before you start removing the wallpaper, it's critical to collect all the necessary tools that are required for this task. Having the right set of tools can make your work much easier and more efficient.

Scoring Tool

The first tool you'll need is a wallpaper scoring tool. This small handheld device has wheels with sharp edges designed to create tiny perforations in the wallpaper. These perforations allow the wallpaper stripping solution to seep underneath the paper, loosening the adhesive for easier removal.

Wallpaper Stripper Solution

Next, you need a wallpaper stripper solution. This can be a store-bought product designed specifically for wallpaper removal or a homemade mixture of equal parts vinegar and hot water. The stripper solution is used to dissolve the wallpaper paste.

Spray Bottle

To apply the wallpaper stripper solution, you will need a spray bottle. A spray bottle provides an even distribution of the stripping solution over the wallpaper, which helps to effectively soak and soften it.

Putty Knife

After you've scored and soaked the wallpaper, you will need a putty knife to scrape off the wallpaper. Make sure you choose a putty knife that has a broad, flexible blade. The putty knife should be sharp but not too sharp it damages the wall below the wallpaper.

Sponges and Rags

Finally, keep some sponges and rags handy for cleaning up the residual adhesive on the walls after wallpaper removal. These tools can help in scrubbing off any remaining paste and keep your work area clean.

While wallpaper removal can be a daunting task, having these tools at hand will ensure a smooth and efficient process. With patience and the correct methods, you'll have your walls ready for a new look in no time.

Understanding Different Types of Wallpapers

In any task related to wallpapers, it is essential to understand that not all wallpapers are created equal. There are several types available, each with its own characteristics, advantages, and the best method for removal. Here, we'll delve into some common types:

Vinyl Wallpapers

Vinyl wallpapers are popular due to their durability and ease of cleaning. They are typically composed of a paper or fiber backing coated with a vinyl layer. To remove vinyl wallpaper, you'll first peel off the vinyl layer, then moisten the underlying paper layer and scrape it off.

Non-Woven Wallpapers

Non-woven wallpapers are modern and in high demand. They don't expand or contract, making them easy to hang and remove. They are also tear-resistant when wet, hence safe to strip off in full sheets, reducing the time spent on wallpaper removal.

Foamed Vinyl (Anaglypta)

Anaglypta is a type of wallpaper characterized by its embossed, textured surface. While it's typically made from paper, recent versions are created from white vinyl and touted as washable, durable, and easy to paint over. Just like vinyl wallpaper, you'll need to strip the top layer before you moisten and scrape off the remaining paper.

Flock Wallpaper

Flock wallpaper has a velvety, textured look and feel akin to felt. The process of removing flock wallpaper can be more involved due to this dense, fuzzy texture. You'll need to score the surface before applying a stripping solution to ensure it can penetrate the paper.

Foil Wallpaper

Foil wallpapers have a shiny metallic surface, usually aluminum, adhered to a paper backing. To remove foil wallpaper, you need to care for the metallic surface not to scratch it. The paper backing is then soaked and stripped away.

Recognizing the characteristics of different wallpapers will help you understand how best to approach removing them. In the next section, we will deep dive into the necessary tools and products for efficient and effective wallpaper removal.

Safety Precautions for Wallpaper Removal

Before immersing yourself in the task of removing old wallpaper, it's critical to anticipate and be prepared for potential hazards. Safety should always be a top priority with any home improvement tasks, including the removal of wallpaper. Here are some safety precautions to consider:

Protective Gear

Firstly, it is essential to wear the right protective gear. This includes a pair of sturdy gloves to protect your hands from potential scrapes or cuts, safety glasses to shield your eyes from bits of flaking wallpaper or chemical spatters and a mask or respirator to prevent the inhalation of dust or harmful fumes from removal solutions.


Proper ventilation is another important aspect. When using chemical wallpaper strippers, keep windows open and fans running to ensure a constant flow of fresh air. This will help prevent the buildup of potentially harmful fumes within the room.

Clear the Work Area

Be sure to clear the work area before starting the wallpaper removal process. This means moving furniture, decorations, and other obstacles out of the way. Cover the floor and any remaining furniture or fixtures with drop cloths to protect them from potential water or chemical damage.

Electrical Safety

Wallpaper often surrounds electrical outlets and switches, so it's important to take precautions in these areas. Always turn off the electricity to the room at your home's main electrical panel to avoid accidental shocks. Use a voltage tester to confirm the power is off before starting work.

Ladder Safety

Lastly, if the wallpapered area is high, you may require a ladder. Ensure you're using the correct type of ladder, and it's securely placed on a flat, even surface. Never overreach while on a ladder. If you can't comfortably reach an area, move the ladder.

Ensuring you follow these safety precautions helps reduce the risk of accidents, keeping you safe while you transform your space.

Step-by-Step Guide to Removing Wallpaper

Removing old wallpaper could be a relatively straightforward task, provided you carefully follow this step-by-step guide. Please keep in mind that since wallpaper hasn't been universally standardized, some might be more difficult to remove than others. The following method will work effectively for most types of wallpaper.

1. Gather Your Supplies

Before you start, ensure you have all the necessary materials on hand. This includes a wallpaper scorer, wallpaper removal spray, or a homemade mix of equal parts water and vinegar, a spray bottle, a putty knife, and towels or rags to protect the floor.

2. Prepare the Room

Remove any paintings, outlet covers, or decorations from the wall. Then cover the floor and any furniture that can't be moved with drop cloths or old sheets to protect them from potential damage.

3. Start Scoring

Scores or punctures the wallpaper using the scoring tool. This allows the wallpaper removal solution to penetrate the wallpaper and dissolve the adhesive beneath it. Be careful not to press too hard to avoid damaging the wall underneath.

4. Apply the Removal Solution

Fill your spray bottle with either your purchased wallpaper removal solution or your vinegar and water mixture. Spray the solution onto the scored wallpaper, taking care to cover all areas. Allow the solution to sit for some time (approximately 15-20 mins) to dissolve the adhesive.

5. Start Stripping

Using your putty knife, start at the corners and gently scrape off the wallpaper. It should come off easily. If certain areas are stubborn, apply more of your solution and give it time to work before trying again.

6. Clean and Smooth the Wall Surface

Once all the wallpaper is removed, clean the wall with water and a mild detergent. This will remove any remaining adhesive. Then, let the wall dry completely before doing any further wall treatment like painting or applying new wallpaper.

Remember, patience is key when removing wallpaper. If you rush, you may damage your walls. With the right tools, technique, and level of patience, you'll have your walls clean and ready for a fresh new look in no time.

As we move to the next section of our guide, we'll look at how to manage wallpaper that's been painted over, a situation that may need a little more effort to address.

Tips for Removing Difficult-to-Remove Wallpapers

While removing wallpaper can sometimes be a straightforward task, in other cases, it can prove to be challenging. Some wallpapers, particularly older ones or those that are deeply embedded, can be difficult to remove. Here are several tips that can help in such circumstances.

1. Use a Wallpaper Scoring Tool

Using a wallpaper scoring tool can help to chip away stubborn wallpaper easier. The tool makes small perforations in the wallpaper, facilitating the entry of wallpaper stripper or other removal solutions.

2. Utilize a Wallpaper Steamer

A wallpaper steamer applies heat and moisture to the wallpaper, thus loosening the glue underneath. It is particularly effective on stubborn, older types of wallpaper. However, one should use it with caution to prevent heat damage to the walls.

3. Make Use of a Solution

Application of a solution such as a vinegar-water mixture or a chemical stripper can help to unseal older glue. Applying the solution to scored wallpaper allows it to penetrate more efficiently. It's essential to give the solution time to work before attempting to remove the wallpaper.

4. Patience and Persistence

Removing stubborn wallpaper usually takes more time than expected. Expect that there may be some frustrating moments. It's important not to rush the process, as it might cause damage to the walls. Patience and persistence are key factors in successfully removing difficult wallpapers.

We hope these steps will make your wallpaper removal process smoother. Remember, it's always crucial to protect your eyes and skin when dealing with potentially harmful substances. Do not hesitate to reach out to a professional if the task proves too overwhelming.

Following these tips, you should be able to tackle even the most stubborn wallpapers, paving the way for a fresh new look for your walls.

Cleaning and Preparing the Wall Surface after Wallpaper Removal

Once you have successfully removed the wallpaper from your wall, any adhesive residues must be thoroughly cleaned. This stage is crucial, as any residue leftover can affect your subsequent redecoration process.

Materials Needed

  • Soap: A mild dish soap or a TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) substitute.
  • Sponge: For the application of soap solution.
  • Water: Warm water helps to remove the soap solution and adhesive residues.
  • Towels/Rags: For drying the wall.

Cleaning Process

To begin, make a soap solution by diluting a small amount of soap in warm water. Dampen the sponge with this solution and gently scrub the wall. Start from the top and work your way down to prevent any drips that might cause streaks. Ensure that you rinse the sponge frequently in a separate bucket of clean water to avoid reapplying any wallpaper adhesive back onto the wall.

After washing the entire wall with the soap solution, rinse the wall with clean water and let it air dry for some time. While the wall is drying, look for any spots where the wallpaper adhesive residue might still be clinging. If you spot any, repeat the process until you have a clean surface.

Preparing the Wall Surface

Once your wall is clean, it might look uneven due to the removal of wallpaper. To create a smooth surface, you can apply a thin layer of joint compound using a putty knife. Spread it evenly over the wall and allow it to dry. After it has dried, lightly sand it to smoothen the surface.

Ensure that your room is well-ventilated while performing these tasks. The dust from sanding and fumes from the joint compound can affect your health. After this procedure, you are ready for the final step in the redecoration of your wall.

Preparing your wall surface after wallpaper removal might seem like a daunting task, but with patience and the right tools, anybody can achieve this and be ready for a new decor.

The Final Step: Choosing Your New Wall Decor

Now that your wall surface is clean and prepared, you're ready to choose your new wall decor. Whether it's a fresh coat of paint or installing a new wallpaper, a properly prepared wall surface can make all the difference in obtaining a professional finish.

Major Takeaways for Successful Wallpaper Removal

In wrapping up, successful wallpaper removal depends a lot on patience and the right tools. However, from our comprehensive review, we have gathered some essential takeaways that are crucial for an optimal wallpaper removal process.

Choose the right tools

Firstly, it's necessary to have the right tools. This generally includes a scoring tool, a wallpaper stripper solution, a spray bottle, and a putty knife. Each of these tools plays a significant role in the wallpaper removal process, and in turn, eases the task.

Prepare your work area

Secondly, it's crucial to adequately prepare your workspace. Lay down drop cloths or tarps to protect your floors from the sometimes messy removal process. Also, removing any furniture or decorative items from the room would make your work easier and help prevent any damage.

Start small and be patient

Thirdly, start with a small test area. This will help to gauge the difficulty level of your particular wallpaper. Different types of wallpapers have different levels of adhesion and may require varying techniques or tools.

Patience is key when removing wallpaper. The process can be time-consuming and occasionally frustrating, but remember that rushing can lead to wall damage.

Seek professional help when necessary

Lastly, if the task gets too difficult or the wall gets damaged, don't hesitate to bring in professional help. Hiring a professional can help avoid any further damages and ensure that the removal process is done efficiently and correctly.

So, equip yourself with the right tools, take the time to prepare, be patient and, when necessary, don't be afraid to call in the pros. Wallpaper removal can be a daunting task, but with these major takeaways in mind, you can tackle it successfully.