How to Remove Wallpaper

If you’ve ever tried to remove the existing wallpaper in your home, you will know that it isn’t as straightforward as simply tearing it off in one fell swoop. When done properly, removing wallpaper is a simple job. However, old or obsolete techniques can make it pretty difficult. And make it much harder than it needs to be.

We’ve been removing wallpaper for decades, and we have tried and true methods that works almost every time. Doing it right involves a little more prep work and patience upfront, but it will save you time and effort in the long run.

Identify your type of wallpaper

The process is slightly different depending on what type of wallpaper you have. The three common types of wallpaper we see are paper-faced, paper-backed, and solid vinyl wallpaper. If you have an older house, chances are that you have paper-backed or paper-faced.

Our article What is the best kind of wallpaper goes over the differences in more detail.


Beware of this common wallpaper removal advice

Many websites and guides recommend using a wallpaper steamer to make the wallpaper easier to remove. This is an older method that isn’t recommended these days. The heat from the steamer tends to be too high which can damage the wall and make painting and adding new wallpaper more difficult.

Removing vinyl wallpaper

Solid vinyl is easy to install, clean, and remove and is a good choice if you’re replacing existing wallpaper with new wallpaper.

If you have vinyl wallpaper, you may be able to strip it by using a flat blade at the corner and peeling the wallpaper off. It tends to come off easily in large sheets. If it rips along the way, loosen it on a new spot and repeat. Sometimes removing vinyl wallpaper is that easy!

Removing paper-backed or paper-faced wallpaper

Other wallpapers are more complicated to remove. They won’t strip off in sheets like vinyl so the process is more involved.

  1. Clear out the room as much as you can. Remove any furniture that you can and move it into another room.
  2. Cut the power to the room. Water is involved in the process so turning off the power is a safety precaution. Cover any electrical outlets with painters tape and ensure they are tightly and completely covered.
  3. Create a mixture of water and sugar soap. The sugar soap is very important. Many people who have problems removing water leave out this key ingredient and use water alone. That’s asking for trouble.
  4. Spray the mixture all over the wall thoroughly. The sugar soap helps to reduce the amount of water that drips, which also helps it soak in better.
  5. Wait at least 15 minutes. Half an hour is better. This is another very important step that people tend to skip over. If you don’t wait long enough, the paper will come off in small patches and you’ll also damage the substrate.
  6. Scrape off the wallpaper with a wide blade starting at the corner. If you’ve done everything right, it should come off easily.


Want help removing wallpaper?

If removing wallpaper yourself isn’t high on your list of priorities due to not having the time, or if it’s just not your thing, you could end up with more problems than you started with. If you want to make sure the job’s done right, we can help. We’ve removed wallpaper from hundreds of properties and can do it quickly, cleanly, and with minimal mess. Contact us today for a free quote for wallpaper removal.

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