Our Failproof Wallpaper Removal Process

Embarking on a wallpaper removal project can be daunting, but with a step-by-step process, I’ll guide you through each step, refined over the decades having removed thousands of feet of wallpaper.

Below, I break down the six essential steps of our proven wallpaper removal process, designed to tackle even the most challenging jobs with precision and care.

Let’s dive into the details and make your wallpaper removal journey smooth and successful.

1) Prepping Your Space

Ensuring a flawless finish in wallpaper removal begins with meticulous preparation of your space. This foundational step is non-negotiable; attention to detail prevents damage and saves time during clean-up.

  • Completely clear the room by relocating all furniture away from the walls. Cover thoroughly with plastic sheets for more oversized furniture that cannot be moved.
  • Tape plastic sheets over floors and baseboards to protect surfaces from excess moisture and wallpaper shreds during the removal process—secure sheets firmly with painter’s tape.
  • Take down wall fixtures like lighting, artwork, and curtains by carefully detaching them from the wallpapered surfaces you plan to strip.
  • Seal all electrical outlets/switches with painter’s tape barriers after turning off breakers, preventing moisture seepage into the wiring.

2) Evaluating Wallpaper Type

Discerning the type of wallpaper you’re dealing with is crucial for selecting the right removal strategy. Different wallpapers respond uniquely to removal techniques, making this step imperative for minimizing damage and ensuring efficiency.

  • Identify the backing material and installation method to choose the most suitable removal solutions for results.
  • Analyze whether the wallpaper is newer, removable, strippable, or heavier-duty vinyl-coated. Testing a lifted edge reveals the resistance level so you can deploy an appropriate removal solution.

Watch this video from This Old House to help determine between the three.

3) Applying Removers

Applying the remover is essential in the wallpaper removal process, where precision meets patience. Employing the proper technique to use your chosen solution is vital for softening the adhesive without damaging the underlying surface.

  • Mix non-toxic, chemical-free wallpaper remover solution with warm water in a garden sprayer according to product specifications.
  • Apply remover liberally to the wallpaper surface using sweeping motions, ensuring saturation over the entire section slated for removal.
  • Alternatively, use a sponge dripping with remover solution wiped systematically over the paper surface.
  • Allow 10-15 minutes for the solution to penetrate layers and react with adhesives for easier removal.
Man Removing Wallpaper

4) Peeling off Wallpaper

The technique of peeling off wallpaper is critical to preserving the integrity of your walls.

  • Start peel removal in a top corner seam, slowly pulling the paper shred towards you in a low, diagonal fashion near the adhered surface.
  • Remove pieces gradually, working across the removal area section-by-section rather than ripping large shredded sheets violently off the wall.
  • Use a plastic putty knife tool to lift particularly stubborn shreds still clinging post-remover application when necessary. Take care not to gouge walls.

5) Cleaning and Repairs

After wallpaper removal, the focus shifts to restoring the wall to its original condition.

  • Eliminate all leftover adhesive residue using hot water rinse cloths, then vinegar water wipes until no tackiness remains on newly uncovered walls.
  • Inspect for damage like gouges, holes, or cracked plaster post removal. Use the spackling paste to fill dents, smoothing once dry with sandpaper.

6) Sealing & Protecting

The final step in the wallpaper removal process is critical for ensuring the longevity and quality of your wall’s next treatment.

  • Once walls are fully dry post-rinsing phase and any dings are repaired, apply 1-2 protective primer coats, allowing drying between to create an optimal bonding surface for new paint or replacement wallpaper.

Common Wallpaper Removal Supplies

When starting a wallpaper removal project, having the right supplies is essential for a smooth and efficient process. From the initial scoring to the final rinse, each tool plays a pivotal role in effectively stripping away old layers and preparing your walls for a fresh start. Here’s is a comprehensive list of essential supplies that will equip you for the task at hand, ensuring a thorough and damage-free removal.

Spray Bottle and Vinegar
  • Spray Bottle: Essential for evenly applying water or wallpaper removal solutions to soften the adhesive.
  • Paint Scraper: Ideal for gently lifting and peeling away loosened wallpaper without damaging the wall.
  • Sponge: Useful for applying solutions to smaller areas and wiping down walls post-removal.
  • Wallpaper Removal Spray or Vinegar: Effective in breaking down the wallpaper adhesive, making it easier to strip away.
  • Scrub Brush: Helps in removing stubborn adhesive residue from the wall surface.
WP Chomp Wallpaper Scorer Remover Tool:
  • Scoring Tool: Creates small perforations in the wallpaper, allowing removal solutions to penetrate and loosen the glue. (shown)
  • Utility Knife: For precise cuts around edges, outlets, and fixtures.
  • Ladder: To reach higher sections of the wall safely.
  • Painter’s Tape: To protect trim, ceilings, and adjacent walls not being worked on.
  • Drop Cloths: To protect the floor from water and debris.
  • Bucket: For mixing solutions and rinsing sponges or cloths.

Wallpaper Removal Hacks

Encountering stubborn glue residue is typical, especially with pre-pasted papers or vintage silk styles requiring paste activation. Here are wallpaper removal hacks for tackling stubborn adhesives:

  • Scrub – Scrub the walls and then use an oil primer to block the adhesive from coming through any future painting.
  • Vinegar & Water Mixture– Once the wallpaper is removed, wipe a 50/50 white vinegar and water solution using a sponge to help dissolve lingering sticky spots.
  • Hot Water Rinses – Alternatively, dip clean cloths in very hot water, ensure fabrics are not dripping, and gently blot to lift adhesive away. Repeat with fresh, hot water and water-soaked cloths frequently.
  • Clay-Based Paste Loosener – This specialty solution at home improvement stores also helps release stubborn glue from pre-pasted papers.
  • Gentle Scraper Passes – If stains begin lifting but small sticky patches remain, gentle passes with a plastic scraper can help remove these tacky bits fully post-steam sessions.

Here’s What Gets Missed Most Often

Many folks initially skip hiring a professional wallpaper removal service to save money. While it’s understandable to try handling small home projects solo, wallpaper removal comes with various difficulty levels.

Without the proper prep work, materials, and technique, you can create a backdrop of torn drywall or a flooded floor that could cause permanent water damage, not precisely what you envisioned for that refreshed space.

Here’s a common list of mistakes in a DIY project.

Removing wallpaper with putty knife
  • Painting Over Wallpaper  – this technique never turns out as hoped.  When wallpaper is stuck and cannot be removed without wall damage, consider a skim coat and repair the wall to a paint-ready condition afterward.
  • Forgetting to seal off electrical – Getting wallpaper scraps or liquids behind switches and outlets can cause shorts or fires. The pros properly prep.
  • Not testing walls for lead – Older homes could still contain lead-based paints under layers of wallpaper. It’s crucial we detect and safely handle lead walls.
  • Soaking too much water into drywall – Saturating adhesive is good, but overdoing it damages drywall and encourages mold growth behind.
  • Allowing residues to linger – Any adhesive left on walls will affect how paint adheres later. We thoroughly remove all leftover sticky spots.
  • Attempting to peel off rigid vinyl or fabric layers in one piece – Wallpaper should be slowly dampened and peeled off gently in sections, not ripped off forcefully like a bandage. Drywall paper is often less robust than the wallpaper you are ripping off.

Considering hiring a pro?

Contact me if you’re considering hiring a professional for your wallpaper removal. My team and I will take the hassle out of your hands. We offer wallpaper removal services across the St. Louis metropolitan area. Trust us to revitalize your walls with expert care. For a free estimate on creating your desired fresh, clean look, visit our wallpaper removal service page. Your satisfaction is my top priority!