How to remove wallpaper

You are probably aware that when you apply new wallpaper, it is much better to do this once any old wall covering has been removed. This is especially true if the old wallpaper is peeling or otherwise damaged, as new wallpaper sticks to smooth, clear surfaces much better. So how should you go about removing the old wallpaper?

Sometimes this will be a very easy task; if the wallpaper is peeling considerably then it might take little more than a good yank to peel it from the wall. However, it isn’t always this straightforward and so you are likely to need to take a little more care over the process.

Strippable wallpaper

The first thing you need to do is to check whether your current wallpaper is what is known as ‘strippable’ wallpaper. You can check this by carefully peeling back a corner of the paper. If it comes away easily then it is most likely strippable and you should be able to peel it from the wall with a steady pressure. However, if it doesn’t come away from the wall easily, you will need to use a different method to remove the wallpaper.

One popular option is to take a sharp knife or a paper stripper, which you can buy at most DIY stores, and carefully make slits in your wallpaper at regular intervals. These intervals should be roughly every 10 inches. Once this has been done you can then use a liquid wallpaper remover or warm soapy water – apply this to the wall and allow it to get behind the paper through the slits that you have made. A sponge is usually a good tool to use to apply the solution, or you could alternatively use a spray bottle.

One tip for this is to wear a mask over your nose and mouth to minimise the risk of inhaling any chemicals. You might also need to wet the wallpaper a couple of times before you are able to remove it. In terms of removal, a flexible scraper is a good choice. Slide the blade under one of the slits you made in the paper and push it upwards to start removing the paper. You might find that you need to resoak some of the paper as you go along so that it stays easy to remove.

However, if your walls are made of drywall – don’t wet them at all. Instead, make the slits in the same way and just use those as a guide for your wallpaper scraper and you should hopefully get the same results. Some walls, though, are trickier than others. For example, woodchip can often be very hard to remove and so you might need to use a wallpaper steamer to remove it.

Steaming off wallpaper

You can usually hire a wallpaper steamer from electrical rental outlets. You will need to heat up the steamer before use; when it is hot, you can hold the plate against the wall. After a few moments, the paper should start to darken with moisture. Once you’ve steamed a good portion of the strip, use a wallpaper scraper to take the paper off the walls – just remember you might need to steam the same area a couple of times to dislodge the adhesive.

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