How to Remove Wallpaper?


Whether you’re renovating the whole house or just one room and you want to redo the walls, you’re going to have to learn how to remove wallpaper if you have them installed. Don’t worry because wallpaper is not permanent and you can replace them if you want to or switch to paint. It’s just going to take some time and skills.

You don’t need to call a professional to remove wallpaper. There are easy ways that you can do this on your own or with the help of a family member. Of course, you would need a few tools but these are easily available and nothing expensive needs to be purchased.


First, let’s look at the things you need to do before you can properly remove wallpaper.

  • Wall Type

    Identify your wall type. You need to know for sure what kind of wall you have before you start removing the wallpaper. Usually, the age of the wall would determine if it’s a drywall or plaster.

    Plaster is found in most homes that are older than 50 years. If you have plaster walls, that means wood laths nailed to wood-framed walls and are usually covered with coats of plaster. These walls are solid and would make a dull sound if you knock on them.

    Drywall, on the other hand, is a sheet of chalk-like substance that is typically covered with a lightweight cardboard. They are nailed over wood-framed walls and they make a hollow sound when you knock on them. This type of wall is more delicate than plaster so you have to be careful when you remove wallpaper because you might damage the cardboard with a scraping tool.

  • Remove Items from the Walls

    Take all items attached to the walls off of them. These include the TV and TV wall mounts. If you have wall speakers, remove them, too. Remove all decorative objects and as much furniture as you can in the room.

  • Cover Floors

    Next, you have to prevent the mess from getting on your floors so place some used towels on the baseboards. You can also spread plastic over the towels and tape them down.

  • Set a Time

    You need to schedule this so that you don’t get disturbed when you remove wallpaper. It typically takes one full day to remove wallpaper from an average sized room. Consider the time that you need and how many rooms you want to remove wallpaper from. Set a time for each room and how many days you need to remove all wallpaper in them.

How to Remove Wallpaper?

Here are the steps to remove wallpaper depending on the type of wall and wallpaper that you used to have.

  • Strippable Wallpaper

    The more modern wallpapers are usually strippable. That means you can easily remove them without using any chemicals. Try to remember if the wallpaper you installed was removable. If you’re not sure, you can check by using a putty knife to pry the edge of the wall covering, at a corner. If it easily pulls away, that means you have a strippable wallpaper.

    To remove this type of wallpaper, simply pull off the lower corner of a strip until both corners are free. Using both hands, hold the bottom edge and pull it till the whole strip is removed from the wall. You would have to repeat this for each strip around the room.

    You can use a razor knife if you find it difficult to remove.

  • Strip Wallpaper with Water

    If your wallpaper is not strippable, you can use water to remove wallpaper. You would also need some liquid stripper concentrate. Mix it with hot water and follow the instructions. Use a broad brush or spray to apply the mixture onto the walls. Do it from top to bottom for each section. Don’t do a large area all at once because it tends to dry up before you can remove the wallpaper.

    Let the wallpaper soak for a few minutes then you can start to strip it with a scraper. You may find that old paper won’t absorb water as much so you have to scuff the surface with sandpaper or a scoring tool. This will let water soak into the wallpaper. When it’s soaked enough, apply the mixture again twice and let it soak for 30 more minutes. When you are able to scrape some of it with your fingernails, you know it’s ready.

  • Washable Wallpaper

    There are also washable wallpapers and they can be hard to remove. You have to penetrate the paper by breaking through the plastic film covering it. Create holes in the paper by using a scoring tool then spray some water to soak it. Spray water to the slits so that it gets behind the covering. After 10 minutes, you can scrape off the paper with a putty knife.

  • Remove Wallpaper with Steam

    You can also use steam to remove wallpaper. This is the most difficult technique and you would need someone’s help to do it.

    What you can do is to rent a steamer so you don’t have to purchase one. Although there are some inexpensive ones available online. The steamer will use boiling water to soften the glue that holds the wallpaper to the wall. For vinyl-coated wallpaper, you would still need a scoring tool to punch holes in it to let the steam in.

    Follow the steamer instructions and once the water is boiling, place the steam pads firmly on the wallpaper. Make sure to wear goggles and gloves. Wait 30 seconds and move the pad to loosen the paper. Then you can remove the paper with a scraper.

There are also wallpapers that are peelable. They work like strippable wallpaper and you just have to peel off the top vinyl coat then remove the backing to remove wallpaper.

Helpful Tools

Here are some tools that you can use to help you remove wallpaper.

Wagner Power Products 1-Gallon Wallpaper Steameramazon button

Zinsser 4-Inch Long-Handle Scraper Toolamazon button

Zinsser DIF GEL Spray Ready To Use Wallpaper Stripper, 32-Ounceamazon button