Summary: Learn how to remove wallpaper, strip wallpaper using the soak and scrape method and strip wallpaper using a steamer. Wallpaper removal.
There are some simple tips, which can assist you in stripping wallpaper quickly and efficiently. Firstly remember to protect the floor and any furnishings, which cannot be removed from the room. Polythene dustsheets are great for this purpose as they protect against water damage and are inexpensive to buy. If removing vinyl wallpaper it may be possible to strip it from the wall without wetting it. Simply lift a corner of the paper using a knife and peel away from the wall leaving just the porous backing paper.
Soak and scrape
- To remove backing paper or non-vinyl wallpaper, use a craft knife to score lines in the paper to break the surface but avoid pressing too hard, as this will damage the wall. The scored lines will allow the water you are going to apply to soak into the paper and dissolve the adhesive.
- Fill a bucket with warm to hot water and add some washing-up liquid. This is a trick used by professional decorators; the detergent helps to dissolve the wallpaper paste quicker.
- Wet the wallpaper thoroughly with a sponge and leave to soak in for half an hour then repeat the process. The wetter the wallpaper the easier it will be to remove.
- To remove the wallpaper you will need a scraper. There is a temptation to use a scraper with the widest blade you can find, believing that this will speed up the task. But this can be counterproductive as it is hard to maintain a constant pressure over the full width of the blade resulting in small strips being missed. A scraper with a 75mm (3in) wide blade is probably best suited for this purpose but avoid digging into the wall as this will damage the plaster.
- Continue soaking the wallpaper as you progress around the room.
Another method of stripping wallpaper is to use a steam stripper. These tools comprise of a small water tank (approximately 3 litres capacity) with an element inside, similar to a kettle, to heat the water. When the water boils it is piped to a flat steaming plate, which is held against the wall. The steam dissolves the wallpaper adhesive and the paper can be removed using a scraper. Washing-up liquid must not be added to the water when a steam stripper is being used.
Steam strippers are particularly effective on heavy-duty wallpaper or wallpaper that has been painted. They can be hired from most tool hire companies but are also relatively cheap to buy.
See our guide to using a wallpaper steamer
If you are planning to paint the wall you must ensure all the wallpaper adhesive has been removed from the wall’s surface.
- To ascertain this, wet the wall and rub your hand against the surface. If you feel any slimy areas this is where deposits of wallpaper glue remain.
- To remove these remaining deposits mix two tablespoons of liquid fabric softener into a gallon of water and scrub the area.
- Finally, rinse the whole surface area of the wall and allow to dry prior to painting.
How to remove wallpaper video
Peeling wallpaper from a wall is a time consuming project and sadly there are no short cuts. However, by simply following a good technique and using a good wallpaper removal solution, you can speed up the process.
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