The 7 stages to removing wallpaper

Posted: 9th May 2019

Do you find yourself looking at old, grubby wallpaper which has, frankly, seen better days?

Well, I Want Wallpaper's Alex Whitecroft is on hand with tips which are sure to make removing wallpaper a far easier experience - get ready to give your walls a fresh look, just in time for summer...

1. What's on your walls?

Before starting, you need to know how many layers of paper there are to remove - it's simple to do, with a scraper. If you find there are over two layers, make sure you give yourself extra time.

'Strippable paper' is designed to be easy to peel off, while many vinyl wallpapers are also easy to remove.

You can check whether it will be a simple task or not by using a knife. Use it to pry the corner of the paper away, before using both hands to pull it down - if it comes off in a long strip, and there are no signs of adhesive, the task will have become a whole lot simpler!

Tip: are you planning to update the paper? Well, add acrylic primer to the wall - it will make it a whole lot easier to remove in the future.

2. Prep time

Removing strippable paper is a messy job - it's therefore worth spending some extra time to look after your floors, woodwork and furniture. Think about removing the wall sockets too - just ensure any gaps are covered with tape to prevent water from getting in and, for added safety, turn the electricity off too. If it's not possible to remove furniture from the room, move it to the centre of the room, then, cover it with an old sheet.

The equipment you will need:

Wallpaper scraper
Utility knife or orbital scorer
Spray bottle
Liquid soap/detergent
Old sheets/dust cloths
Rubber gloves

3. Soaking

If you have non-strippable wallpaper, make slits in the paper, using either a utility knife or a specialist tool like an orbital scorer - just make sure you take care to avoid damaging the wall. Keep the slits roughly 10 inches apart, before using a sponge to wet the walls with a mixture of warm water, a small amount of cellulose paste and liquid detergent. The slits allow the moisture to soak behind the wallpaper, so it's easier to remove.

4. Scraping

After soaking the paper for a few minutes, it's time to start getting it off. Hold your scraper at a 30-degree angle, and then slide it behind the scores, slowly scraping the paper upwards, and away from the wall.

5. Well-stuck paper

For the more stubborn areas, it could be time to bring in a steamer. It's a messier method, but if an area is particularly stubborn, it will help you get the job done.

6. Remove the wallpaper paste

Are there any traces of glue left? Well, the good news is it can be removed by using a solution of:

Liquid soap - regular washing up liquid also works
A tablespoon of baking soda
Vinegar (this works for the more stubborn residue)
Hot water

Then, apply this with a sponge - the solution softens the glue or paste and means it will be simple to wipe off with a rag. You can then use a putty knife or similar to scrape off any remaining residue.

7. Gorgeous new walls

Has the process left any holes or scratches? Well, you can patch these with a joint compound (this is a creamy material which has a toothpaste-like consistency). After it's dried, sand it to create a smooth surface.