How to Strip Wallpaper

Created on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 13:19
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 March 2019 00:09
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Here's how to strip/remove wallpaper, and/or the supplies and tools you will need to buy:

Caution:  Before stripping wallpaper, make sure you turn off the main circuit breaker to the area you will be working in.  Use an extension cord and light from another area of the house that is not connected with the circuit breaker you turned off.  Leave the light plate covers on to keep water out of the electrical area.  Come back to these areas later and carefully remove the rest of the wallpaper.

Protect the floors and other areas below, using a rubberized drop cloth and towels to soak up the water that runs down the walls.


















Score the walls using one of these handy wallpaper scoring tools.


This tool has little teeth, that spin around on a wheel and bite into the wallpaper, making little holes.  These holes make an entrance where the water and/or steam can soak down underneath the wallpaper.  When using this tool, don't press too hard, or you may also score and damage the drywall paper.  All wallpapers have different thicknesses, so you just have to do a trial and error test to see how hard you should apply pressure.


Using a yard sprayer, or any household spray bottle with just water, spray the wall area you will be working on within the next 15 minutes.  You may need to spray the area several times until the paper is wet enough to remove.  If the paper seems to not want to loosen up then you may want to add a wallpaper stripping solution to the water.  This will make the paste underneath break down, making the paper lift from the wall easier.  A lot of paper will come off just using water alone, so try this method first before using a wallpaper stripping solution.


Not all wallpaper will easily come off just using water and/or a solution.  So, if you don't already own one, you may have to buy or rent a wallpaper steamer.  When using a wallpaper steamer, I still suggest that you score and spray the walls first.  This eliminates having to hold the steamer on the wallpaper for so long.  The heat and steam heat up the water that has already been applied to the wall and makes it a much faster way to go.


After a few seconds, you should be able to pull the paper off.  Some papers remove easily, and others are a little more difficult to get off.


In this picture, the top layer of paper came off, leaving behind some of the paper underneath.  If this happens, simply spray water on it or put the steamer over this area and it should loosen up the paper.


Sometimes using a wall scraper works well to scrape the paper off the wall.


When stripping skinny, narrow, or hard to reach places, a 5 in 1 tool works great.  (Its main purpose is for getting paint out of roller covers.)  It works great for stripping wallpaper in little places, because you can use the hooked portion to reach in and pull out the paper, and then use the flat end to scrap the wall.  My Bladeater knife also works for this purpose and is also great for digging out old caulking.


After all the wallpaper has been removed, take a scrubber or coarse washcloth and lightly scrub the walls to make sure all the paper has been removed from the surface.  Many times little pieces are hard to see but will come off easily using a scrubber like this.  Then make sure you wash and rinse the walls really well using a good household wall cleaner.


Patch or resurface the walls, and sand smooth,  If applying a new wallpaper, make sure you use a good high-quality wallpaper primer.  If you are going to paint your walls, then you should use a high-quality wall primer for the particular paint you will be using.

When stripping off old wallpaper, you never know what you're going to find underneath.  If a good wallpaper primer wasn't used, it is most likely that you will have wall damage.  Usually, you can get by with just patching these damaged areas.  However, if the wall damage is severe, you should hire a professional to resurface the walls.  This is a much less expensive way to handle this problem, versus replacing the drywall.  If you are looking for a professional in the Cincinnati area, you can contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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