How To Remove Wallpaper Without A Steamer

How To Remove Wallpaper Without A Steamer

How To Remove Wallpaper Without A Steamer

Introduction to Wallpaper Removal

Removing wallpaper without a steamer can seem like a daunting task. However, with the right preparation, tools, and technique, it is perfectly achievable. In the following section, we will take you through the process step by step to help demystify what can often be a very intimidating home improvement project.

Understand the Task at Hand

The first step towards a successful wallpaper removal is understanding what you are dealing with. Different types of wallpaper require different removal methods. While some wallpapers peel away easily, others may adhere to the wall more stubbornly. Furthermore, in some cases, multiple layers of wallpaper may have been applied over the years, complicating the removal process.

The Essential Tools for the Job

There are a number of tools and materials you will need for wallpaper removal. Broadly speaking, these can be divided into three categories: protective materials, such as gloves and goggles; tools for removing the wallpaper, such as a putty knife or a wallpaper scorer; and cleaning supplies, such as sponges, buckets and trash bags.

Gloves and Goggles

Protective gear is crucial to ensure that you do not damage your hands or eyes during the wallpaper removal process. Gloves will shield your hands from potential scrapes and cuts, while goggles will prevent dust or debris from irritating your eyes.

Putty Knife and Wallpaper Scorer

A putty knife and a wallpaper scorer are invaluable tools for wallpaper removal. The putty knife helps to pry off stubborn pieces of wallpaper, while the scorer creates small holes in the paper, permitting your wallpaper removal solution to penetrate and effectively dissolve the adhesive.

Cleaning Supplies

Finally, a sponge, a bucket, and trash bags are necessary for cleanup once all the wallpaper has been stripped off. The sponge is useful for washing down the walls and removing any residual adhesive, while the bucket can hold the sponge and the soapy water. The trash bags, of course, are for disposing of the old wallpaper.

Preparation is Key

With your tools gathered, it's now time to prepare the area for wallpaper removal. This includes moving furniture away from the walls and covering the floor and other surfaces to protect them from any wallpaper scraps or adhesive residue that may fall during the process.

Ready for the Task

Now that you have an understanding of what wallpaper removal entails and the tools you will need, you're ready to venture into the practical steps of doing the job. By following the advice and methods outlined above and in the following sections, you'll be able to renovate your space confidently and efficiently.

Understanding the Types of Wallpaper

Before you begin the process of removing your wallpaper, it's essential to understand the types of wallpaper that exist. This is crucial because your approach might vary slightly depending on the kind of wallpaper that's adorning your walls.

Vinyl Wallpaper

Vinyl wallpaper is one of the most common types of wallpaper you might encounter. It features a paper or fibrous backing and a plastic surface which makes it resilient, easy to clean, and simple to remove, often in full strips.

Foiled Wallpaper

Foiled wallpaper is decorative, featuring a paper backing and a thin, shiny metallic foil surface. It's less common in modern homes but may require more care to remove due to its delicate nature.

Flock Wallpaper

This is a luxury, textured wallpaper. Flock wallpaper can be complex to remove since the 'flock' tends to adhere strongly to the wall surface. Extra care and time might be needed.

Embossed Wallpaper

Embossed wallpaper has a relief-like surface and can be painted over. Removing embossed wallpaper is similar to removing vinyl wallpaper, but extra attention is required to ensure all the paper backing is removed.

Fabric Wallpaper

As the name suggests, this wallpaper is made from fabric and can be quite tricky to remove. This type of wallpaper is heavy, and the glue used tends to be much stronger, requiring a more detailed approach to removal.

Textured Vinyl Wallpaper

Only the top layer of these wallpapers is liable to come off easily, leaving the backing on the wall. This backing layer then has to be soaked and carefully removed.

Washable Wallpaper

These wallpapers are typically covered with a thin plastic film, which can be sponged off with a wet cloth. The remaining paper can then be removed by using the same techniques as for other paper-based wallpapers.

Now, having understood the types of wallpapers, you're one step close to a smooth wallpaper removal process. Remember to treat each type with the specific care it requires to prevent unnecessary damage to your walls.

Essential Tools Needed for Wallpaper Removal

Removing wallpaper without a steamer might require some patience, but with the right tools at your disposal, it becomes a less daunting task. This section will discuss the tools you'll need to accomplish this task effectively without causing any damage to the underlying surface.

Scraper or Putty Knife

A scraper or putty knife serves as the primary tool for peeling off the wallpaper. The flat edge can be used to slip underneath the edge of the wallpaper and gently lift it from the wall. It is recommended to use a scraper with a good handle grip for comfort and a sharp but not too pointed edge to prevent damage to the wall.

Scoring Tool

A scoring tool is designed to create tiny punctures in the wallpaper, allowing your wallpaper remover solution to penetrate deeply. This significantly facilitates and accelerates the removal process. When using a scoring tool, it's important to apply light pressure to prevent unnecessary wall damage.

Wallpaper Removal Solution

A wallpaper removal solution isn't technically a "tool," but it plays an essential role in the removal process. You can purchase a commercial remover or make a DIY solution at home by diluting vinegar or fabric softener in warm water. This solution will need to be applied to the wallpaper to loosen its adhesive properties.

Spray Bottle

When applying your wallpaper removal solution, using a spray bottle allows for easy and even distribution. This step ensures the wallpaper absorbs the removal solution completely, making the peeling process smoother.

Sponges and Rags

After applying the wallpaper removal solution, you will need sponges and rags to soak up the remaining moisture and clean away residue that might have been left on the wall.


A bucket serves as a container for your wallpaper removal solution, used to refresh your sponges and rags, or even catch falling pieces of wallpaper during the removal process.

Safety Gear

Last but not least, safety gear is a must-have when removing wallpaper without a steamer. Wearing gloves will protect your hands from potentially harsh removal solutions or small cuts from the scraper. Eye protection is also vital to avoid irritation from the solution splashes.

Competing this collection of tools will ensure a safer, smoother and successful wallpaper removal process. Your mission is to now move to the task of preparing the room for wallpaper removal process.

Prepping Your Room for Wallpaper Removal

Before you dive into the task of wallpaper removal. It's very crucial to prepare the room for this project. To help guide you, here are the recommended steps you need to follow to ensure a smooth process:

Clearing the Room

First and foremost, remove all furniture and decorative items from the room. If the furniture cannot be moved out completely, move it to the center of the room and cover it with plastic sheets to protect it from any accidental splashes of remover or water. Be sure to also cover the floors with tarps or plastic sheets.

Delicate Components Protection

Removing wallpaper will require the usage of water-based solutions or solvents, so it's important to protect delicate areas in your room. Turn off the electric breakers for the room before removing electrical cover plates and light fixtures. After removing them, cover the electrical outlets and switches with painter's tape to avoid any water damage.

Wall Inspection

Carefully inspect the walls for any cracks or holes. If found, these should be repaired prior to the wallpaper removal process. The quality of the underlying wall and plaster can greatly influence the outcome of your removal project.

Ventilation and Safety Precautions

Make sure the room is well ventilated. Open the windows if possible to allow fresh air in. Always wear protective gloves and eyewear to avoid any injuries during the process. You may also need to wear a protective mask if you are sensitive to dust and allergens.

Tools and Materials

Gather all the tools and materials you'll need for the job. This could include scrapers, putty knives, sponges, buckets, and your choice of wallpaper removal solution. Having everything at hand and organized will make the process smoother.

Preparation of Wallpaper Removal Solution

Prepare your wallpaper removal solution based on the instructions provided by the manufacturer. It's a good idea to mix up a little more than you think you’ll need to avoid running out part-way through the project.

Test Portion for Removal

Always start by testing a small portion of the wall. This helps to confirm the effectiveness of your solution and gives you a feel of how much force you need to apply while scraping the wallpaper off.

Distinguishing between Peeling and Scraping Methods

When it comes to removing wallpaper, the two most commonly used methods are peeling and scraping. However, it's crucial to understand the differences between the two to determine which one is most suitable for you to use.

Peeling Methods

Peeling involves trying to remove the wallpaper as one complete piece. It can be a quick and clean method if the wallpaper easily separates from the wall. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to go about it:

  1. Dampen the wallpaper: Using a sponge or spray bottle, apply a mixture of warm water and vinegar or a commercial wallpaper remover solution to the wall. Leave it to soak for a few minutes.
  2. Start peeling: Try to find a loose corner and slowly start peeling. For stubborn areas, use a plastic putty knife to help lift the edges. Be patient and gentle to prevent any damage to the wall.

Scraping Methods

On the other hand, scraping generally involves using a scraper tool to loosen the wallpaper and scrape it off the wall. Here's a guide on how to proceed:

  1. Loosen the wallpaper: Dampen the wall with warm water and a wallpaper remover solution. Then, score the wallpaper using a wallpaper scoring tool. This will allow the solution to penetrate better and loosen the wallpaper.
  2. Scrape off the wallpaper: Use a wallpaper scraper or a plastic putty knife to carefully scrape the wallpaper off the wall. Scrape in one direction and avoid digging into the wall.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Method

Before you decide on the method to use, consider the following factors:

Wallpaper Type

Vinyl or coated wallpapers are generally harder to peel and might require scraping.

Wall Condition

If the wall is old or delicate, it's better to peel to avoid potential damage from scraping.

Persistence of Wallpaper

Some wallpapers are more stubborn to remove than others and might require more aggressive scraping methods.

Time Availability

Peeling can be quick if the wallpaper comes off easily, but it may take more time if the wallpaper is stuck fast.

Remember, patience and a gentle hand are essential when removing wallpaper, regardless of the method you choose.

Simple Steps to Remove Wallpaper Using Household Items

If you don't possess a wallpaper steamer, there's no reason to worry. You can still effectively remove old, unwanted wallpaper using some common household items. Here are some steps to guide you through the process:

Gather Your Supplies

First, gather the essentials you'll need. You will need a spray bottle filled with warm water, a putty knife, a sponge, and some fabric softener or vinegar.

Prepare the Room

Begin by prepping the room. Remove any furniture or decor from the room. If you can't move specific items, cover them with plastic to shield them from potential water and paper debris.

Make Your Solution

Next, prepare a solution of warm water and fabric softener (or vinegar) inside a spray bottle. A good ratio to adhere to is one-part fabric softener or vinegar and three parts warm water.

Apply the Solution

Spray the wallpaper thoroughly with the solution you've made. Be sure not to oversaturate as this can seep into your wall and cause damage. Allow it to penetrate the paper and soften the glue backing for at least 15 minutes.

Begin Scraping

Once the wallpaper has absorbed the solution, carefully start to scrape it off using a putty knife. Be mindful not to dig the knife too deeply into the wall as it can lead to scratches or holes that you will need to repair later.

Final Clean

After all the wallpaper is off, go over the wall with a sponge and warm water to remove any remaining adhesive residue. Make sure the wall is completely clean before considering new decoration or paint.


Remember that patience is key. In some cases, you might need to repeat the steps above more than once to completely remove the wallpaper. Also, try to work in smaller sections to keep the wallpaper and adhesive from drying out.

Optional: Drying and Repair

Lastly, wait for the wall to completely dry before making any repairs or before applying new paint or wallpaper. Using sandpaper, smooth any rough patches. If there are any holes or cracks, use a pre-mixed joint compound to patch them up.

Dealing with Persistent Wallpaper and Residue

Sometimes, despite all of your efforts, stubborn wallpaper or residue clings to the wall and is challenging to remove completely. Here are a few tips and tricks to tackle these persistent patches.

Identifying the Problem Areas

Before you start removing stubborn wallpaper or residue, it's crucial to identify the problem areas. Often, these will be spots where the wallpaper is firmly stuck to the surface beneath. They may also be areas that are damp, dirty, or damaged, which can make the wallpaper stick more stubbornly.

Breaking Down the Wallpaper

First, puncture the wallpaper in the problematic areas with a scoring tool. This will allow your removal solution to penetrate beneath the surface of the wallpaper and break down the glue. Next, apply a generous amount of your chosen wallpaper stripper. Homemade solutions like a mix of vinegar and warm water or a mix of fabric softener and warm water can often be effective. Allow the stripper to soak into the punctured wallpaper for at least ten minutes before trying to strip it off.

Scraping Away the Wallpaper

After the wallpaper stripper has had time to sink in, you can start to scrape off the wallpaper. Use a plastic scraper to prevent damaging the wall beneath. Remember to keep a steady but gentle pressure. Over-enthusiastic scraping may result in damage to the underlying wall.


An old credit card can be a handy tool for scraping away stubborn wallpaper and residue!

Removing the Residue

Once the wallpaper is removed, you'll often be left with a residue of old adhesive or tiny fragments of paper. Apply more of your wallpaper removal solution and let it soak in before again scraping it away gently with your plastic scraper.

Washing the Wall

After all wallpaper and residue are removed, it's essential to wash the wall thoroughly. Use a solution of warm water and mild detergent to clean the wall. A sponge or soft cloth can be used to wipe the walls clean. This will remove any remaining adhesive and prepare the wall for any further decorating you plan to do.

Repairing the Wall

In the course of removing stubborn wallpaper, it's often unavoidable to cause some minor damage to the wall. Patch and sand any holes or cracks, and apply a primer before painting or applying new wallpaper. Dealing with persistent wallpaper may be time-consuming and require patience, but with the right approach and tools, you can rejuvenate your space and prepare it for a fresh new look.

Post-Removal Wall Surface Treatment and Preparation for Re-painting or New Wallpaper

Once wallpaper is successfully removed, the wall surface needs to be carefully treated and prepared for its next phase, be it painting or applying new wallpaper. This is a crucial step to achieve a well-finished wall surface and cannot be overlooked.

Wall Surface Treatment

After completing the tedious process of wallpaper removal, it's possible that the wall underneath is not as smooth as it should be. This could be due to remaining wallpaper adhesive or patches of old wallpaper. Therefore, the initial step is to give the wall a thorough inspection for any remaining debris or wallpaper bits.

If any adhesive is left, it should be wiped off with a wet sponge and dish soap. Alternatively, you can apply a mix of hot water and vinegar to the wall to dissolve the glue. Another effective method is using a gel or paste wallpaper remover product according to its instructions, and this is especially useful if a large amount of adhesive is leftover.

Wall Surface Preparation for Re-painting

If you plan to paint the wall, the next step is to fill any holes or cracks that may exist using putty or a similar fill material. After the fill has dried, sanding should be carried out to even out the surface. Once you're done, remove the dust with a vacuum or a clean, dry cloth.

It is then recommended to apply a coat of primer on the wall. This can help cover any remaining colour or pattern from the old wallpaper. Moreover, the primer acts as an undercoat for the paint, helping it adhere better to the wall and providing a more even appearance once the paint is applied.

Wall Surface Preparation for New Wallpaper

In case new wallpaper will be applied, the preparation differs slightly from the process for painting. The wall still needs to be cleaned and smoothened, but instead of a primer, a wallpaper size should be applied. This is a special type of adhesive that prepares the wall for the new wallpaper, ensuring that it adheres properly and lasts longer.

Regardless of whether you're re-painting or applying new wallpaper, patience and attention to detail during the preparation phase can significantly boost the final outcome and durability of your wall's new look.