Woman scraping old wallpaper from wall

Have you grown tired of that '70s green wallpaper in your bathroom? Do you want to give your kitchen a modern look? It's easy to give any room in your home an update by removing wallpaper that’s dated and painting your walls with a fresh coat of paint.

Depending on the type of wallpaper you're dealing with, and your personal preferences, you can tackle wallpaper removal in a few different ways.

Getting Started

Before you begin removing wallpaper, protect your floor by taping drop cloths or plastic sheeting to cover baseboard and floor edges. Cover the plastic with newspaper for added traction when walking. Newspaper will also absorb any water or chemical drips, so change it often.

Dry-Stripping

If your walls are covered with strippable wallpaper, consider yourself lucky! Wallpaper removal on strippable wallpaper is the easiest and quickest to remove by following these simple steps:

Step 1: Test the Wallpaper

The first step in removing wallpaper with the dry-stripping method is to test the wallpaper to ensure it can be removed by stripping. Lift a corner of the paper from the wall with a putty knife or other flat tool. Grasp the paper with both hands and slowly peel it back at a 10 to 15-degree angle.

Step 2: Strip the Paper

If the paper peels easily, you're set. If it's more stubborn, remove it strip by strip at the corners. Avoid pulling straight out as you may damage the surface.

Step 3: Remove Old Adhesive

With a sponge, use a heavy-duty detergent such as trisodium phosphate (TSP) to remove the excess adhesive from the walls. Always wear rubber gloves and protective goggles to protect yourself.

Step 4: Wash Up

Clean the wall using water and a sponge to remove any excess adhesive. Do not wallpaper or paint over the walls until they are completely dry.

Chemical Soak

Wallpaper Stripper

If you're not dealing with the strippable kind, you can remove wallpaper by using a chemical wallpaper remover solution and some additional elbow grease.

Step 1: Score the Wallpaper

When using the chemical soak method, the first step to removing wallpaper is scoring it. Many types of wallpaper are made of vinyl or acrylic, which are nonporous and waterproof. Removing wallpaper made of these materials requires you to roughen the surface or score the surface first so the chemicals can soak into the paste and soften it. To score the paper, make cuts in a crisscross pattern with a scoring tool. A scoring tool will prevent you from cutting into the surface too deeply, therefore damaging the walls.

Step 2: Soak the Surface

Most chemical removers need to be mixed with water, so check the manufacturer's directions before applying. Using a sponge, paintbrush, roller or spray bottle, apply the chemical removal solution evenly over wallpaper. Let soak 20-30 minutes.

Helpful Tip

You'll have faster results applying with a garden sprayer or spray bottle rather than using a sponge.

Safety Alerts!

When learning how to remove wallpaper with a chemical wallpaper remover, always wear protective goggles and rubber gloves. If you prefer to avoid strong chemicals, you can also mix a gallon of hot water with a 1/4 cup of white vinegar or fabric softener for an effective, gentle solution.

Cover exposed outlets and turn off the power to the room before you start.

Step 3: Scrape off Wallpaper

Putty Knife

Use a putty knife or wall scraper to scrape the paper off the wall. The surface may be soft, so be careful not to damage it with the scraper.

Step 4: Remove Old Adhesive

Once the wallpaper is off the wall, the wallpaper removal process becomes more of an adhesive removal task. With a sponge, use a heavy-duty detergent such as trisodium phosphate (TSP) to remove any excess adhesive from the walls.

Step 5: Wash Up

Clean the wall using water and a sponge to remove any excess adhesive. Do not wallpaper or paint over the walls until they are completely dry.

Steam Application

Want to avoid a mess? Learning how to remove wallpaper with an electric steamer can be an alternative to using chemical removers for softening wallpaper paste. A steamer is easy to use and can be purchased or rented at most True Value stores.

Step 1: Score the Wallpaper

As with chemicals, when removing wallpaper using steam, the wallpaper must be scored properly before you start. To score the paper, make cuts in a crisscross pattern with a scoring tool.

Step 2: Prepare the Steamer

Electric Steamer

Fill the steamer's tank with water and heat it electrically according to the instructions. Once the hand-held plate starts to pump steam, it's ready to use.

Step 3: Apply the Steam

Hold the steamer against the wallpaper until the paste becomes soft. Only steam a small portion at a time before scraping if off.

Safety Alerts!

The steamer will be hot, so hold it at a good distance from your body and don't forget to wear protective gloves and goggles. Steam can create condensation and water, so cover all outlets and turn off the power to the room before you start the wallpaper removal process.

Step 4: Scrape off Wallpaper

As soon as the glue has been loosened by the steam, use a putty knife or wall scraper to scrape the wallpaper off. The surface may be soft, so be careful not to damage it.

Step 5: Remove Old Adhesive

With a sponge, use a heavy-duty detergent such as trisodium phosphate (TSP) to remove the excess adhesive from the walls. Always wear rubber gloves and protective goggles to protect yourself.

Step 6: Wash Up

Clean the wall using water and a sponge to remove any excess adhesive. Do not wallpaper or paint over the walls until they are completely dry.

Congratulations on successfully learning how to remove wallpaper! Now you're all set to begin your paint project.

Products: Project Shopping List

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.

Dry-stripping: Project Shopping List

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.

Chemical Removal: Project Shopping List

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.

Steam Application: Project Shopping List

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.