DIY Basics: Remove Wallpaper the Easier Way

Since we moved to BHH in 2014, we have removed a lot of wallpaper. Old houses often have several layers of wallpaper on top of each other. It can be a bit of an archeology experiment once the top layer is gone. I am not going to lie to you and tell you that removing wallpaper is fun and simple. However, there is an easier way, and that is what this post is all about.

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The Tools

Many posts about removing wallpaper mention wetting the paper with a solution of fabric softener and water in a spray bottle and scraping the paper off with a single-edge blade. That makes sense for a small area or a border. For an entire room, a spray bottle just won’t cut it. The real hero of wallpaper removal is the steamer.

We rent one from a local rental source (pictured above), but if you have a lot of wallpaper to remove, you might want to invest in one of your own.

In addition to a steamer, you will need a scoring tool and long-handled scraper. Our rental company provides both of these items included in the rental fee.

Removing Wallpaper: The Method

1. Fill the steamer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow it to heat up to the proper temperature. (This could take up to 1/2 hour.) We recommend that you plug the steamer into a surge-protected power strip.

2. Protect your floors with plastic or a tarp. Removing wallpaper is a very messy job!

3. Score the wallpaper with the scoring tool – This will make tiny holes in the paper that the steam will penetrate.

4. Use the steamer plate to dampen a section of wallpaper thoroughly. Allow time for the steam to penetrate the perforations.

5. Once the wallpaper is very damp, scrape it off with your long-handled scraper. You may have to go over each section more than once depending on how many layers of paper there are or the condition of the adhesive.

(Note: In the picture below, we did not protect our floors because we will be refinishing them.)

Project Tips

  1. Clean as you go. The wet paper will stick to everything. It is best to remove it from the floor or baseboards while it is still wet.
  2. Wear proper protective clothing. All parts of the steamer except for the handle will likely be hot. Protect your body from potential burns.
  3. Keep your scraper blade nice and sharp. You may sharpen it yourself as needed or keep replacement blades on hand.
  4. Keep steam and water away from electrical outlets, switches, and phone jacks.
  5. A spray bottle of very hot water and your scraper will work for the smaller hard-to-reach areas such as behind doors or around woodwork.

And that is all there is to it. Removing wallpaper is very simple. However, it is a time-consuming and messy job. Make sure to set aside plenty of time for your project, and have patience with the process.

Did you know that Blake Hill House is active on Pinterest? If this post is helpful, please share it and pin it for later. We would also love to hear your tips and tricks for removing wallpaper so feel free to leave a comment.

removing wallpaper the easier way

This post is part of our DIY Basics series. If you are interested in additional topics, please type DIY Basics into the search box under our social media links.


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