Wednesday, May 29, 2013

{how to} strip wallpaper

After moving into a house with a living room, a dining room, a kitchen, two bathrooms, and three bedrooms covered in wallpaper, I've learned a thing or two about getting it down.

I tried the gel. I tried the vinegar & water solution. The steamer is the easiest and lest smelliest method.

 Check out my post here, before getting started.
If you're lucky, you'll have strippable wallpaper that comes down with just a yank. But chances are if you are reading this post, you are looking for more help.
After using various methods, I found this one to be the best. Keep in mind, I have plaster walls. You may want to test a small, inconspicuous section if your walls are drywall (sheet rock). I've read that a steamer can potentially damage sheet rock, since the outer layer is paper.
Remove the Outer Layer
Wallpaper is typically composed of two layers, the outer decorative layer and the paper backing. The first step is to remove the outer layer. Starting at a seem, peel off the outer layer. This can come off easily and in large sections. Work slowly to remove the entire piece in one section.
Remove the Paper Backing
Once the top layer is removed, you should be left with the paper backing. If the wall was prepped with a primer prior to the wallpaper installation, the paper backing comes off quite easily. If the wallpaper was applied to a bare wall, it will be more stubborn and may require some repair work after all the paper is down.
Using your steamer, get the backing wet. It changes color -from a light beige to darker beige when moistened. When it's wet enough just use the putty knife at a 45 degree angle and slide it between the paper and wall. If there is any resistance, steam the section again and wait for the moisture to completely soak the paper. When wet enough, it too comes off in the sections it was applied.
Clean As You Go
Use your rag to wipe and clean the walls as you move around the room. You want to remove all the wallpaper adhesive off of the walls.
Other Information
Now that I use a steamer, I don't even bother to score the paper first. The steam penetrates the paper wall enough to skip this step -which I love because I really can't stand that screechy sound.
I like to work top to bottom, left to right. I'm left handed, making it comfortable to steam with my right hand and scrap with my left. If you're right handed it may be more comfortable to work right to left. I also work top to bottom and let gravity do half of the work.
We've had to do at least some repair work (mud and sand) to all our wallpapered rooms. And in our living room, we had water damage around a window that required chipping off all the old plaster and re-mudding it. And although it is a small inconvenience, it worth it remove the dated wallpaper and make our house our own home.
Do you have experience with lots of wallpaper?


  1. We took some down ourselves, and I had my painter do a few of larger areas (kitchen). It is a bear, but yes, the steamer is definitely the way to go. The biggest issue we ran into were in rooms they didn't prime the walls prior to hanging.

  2. Hi Love the blog, yes from my experience i found out that wallpaper steamers are the best thing to use i found it fast and so so easy to do. I got one cheap but good quality one from

    Hope this helps :)

  3. Will a steamer work on 40 yr wallpaper that has been painted 2-3 times????


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