Should You Remove Your Wallpaper?
You might be able to avoid stripping old wallpaper if the existing wallpaper is:
- Well-adhered to the wall.
- Free of bubbles, buckles, and wrinkles.
- Has smooth texture and is free from any embossing, raised embellishments, or flocking.
Leaving your wallpaper on the wall is not recommended if:
- You suspect there may be more than a single layer of wallpaper on the surface.
- The existing wallpaper has a vinyl, foil, or plastic film. Wallpaper adhesive will not adhere well to these surfaces.
- You are planning to hang vinyl wallpaper. If the previous wallpaper is also vinyl, the glue between the two papers will not dry well. If the old wallpaper is not vinyl, the glue under it may get wet and start to mildew.
- The existing wallpaper is grass cloth, burlap, or cork.
- You can hear crinkling sounds when running your hand over the surface of the wall. If you do, the wallpaper has buckled and needs to be removed.
- If there are tears in the wallpaper at the corners of the walls. When walls settle, wallpaper sometimes tears in a corner.
- If you are planning to paint, you must remove the wallpaper. Paint will seal the surface and make the wallpaper almost impossible to remove in the future.
Clear the Walls & Room
Protect Remaining Furniture, Floors & Baseboards
Strippable WallpaperNewer wallpapers are strippable, which means they can easily be removed without water or chemicals. If you know the wallpaper you are trying to remove was hung in recent years, you may be in luck.
Find Out if You Have Strippable Wallpaper
Lift the Corners of the Wallpaper
Loosen Stubborn Wallpaper with a Razor Knife
If the Paper Surface of Your Drywall Comes Up with the Wallpaper
Stop immediately. When this happens, it generally means that the drywall was not sealed with enough paint. Glue down any loose pieces and seams that have separated. Fill in uneven areas with non-shrinking spackling compound. Sand your repairs and apply an oil-based sealer with an enamel undercoat.
Removing Wallpaper with Water
Apply Liquid Stripper Concentrate
Note: Do not try to tackle such a large area that the paper dries before you have a chance to remove it.
Note: Do not leave the backing on, even if it is in good condition.
Is Your Wallpaper Not Absorbing the Water?
When this happens, scuff the surface with coarse sandpaper or a scoring tool to allow the water to soak into the paper. Once it is thoroughly soaked, apply the wetting agent twice more and let it soak for 30 minutes. You will know it is ready when you can scrape off pieces with your fingernail.
The last resort for removing wallpaper is to steam-strip. This job is strenuous because you must steam and strip at the same time. You might want to ask a friend for help.
A steamer uses boiling water to soften the glue between the wallpaper and the wall. If you are removing vinyl-coated wallpaper with a steamer, you still have to use a scoring tool to punch holes in the paper so the steam can reach the glue. You can purchase or rent a steamer, the choice depends on how frequently you plan on using the steam.
Note: Carefully read the manufacturer's directions, as they may vary from machine to machine.
Removing Wallpaper with Steam
Fill the Reservoir
Steam Your Walls
How To Terms
- Prep Work
- Clear the Walls & Room
- Protect Remaining Furniture, Floors & Baseboards
- Find Out if You Have Strippable Wallpaper
- Lift the Corners of the Wallpaper
- Strip Wallpaper
- Loosen Stubborn Wallpaper with a Razor Knife
- Removing Wallpaper with Water
- Apply Liquid Stripper Concentrate
- Strip Wallpaper
- Peel-able Wallpaper
- Removing Wallpaper with Steam
- Fill the Reservoir
- Steam Your Walls
Learn how to paint your furniture in our step-by-step guide that will teach you everything from preparing the surface to the correct furniture paint.