Home Improvements

DIY Guide to Wallpaper Removal

Wallpaper has been used since the 16th century to decorate and brighten living spaces. Wallpaper is a fantastic way to bring colour and patterns into your home without needing to paint or lay tiles. Unfortunately, if you don’t choose carefully your wallpaper can easily appear outdated after a while. 

Learning how to do your own wallpaper removal will save you time and money in the long run.

Are you ready to remove your wallpaper, but unsure of where to start? Learn how to easily remove wallpaper to transform your space.

DIY Guide for Wallpaper Removal - green wallpaper with leaf print behind a mounted tv

Clear and Prepare the Room for Your Wallpaper Removal

The first step in your wallpaper removal journey will be tedious, but necessary. You need to remove all the items from your walls and move your furniture to the centre of the room. Outside the room is even better, if it’s possible. 

You’ll then want to cover your floors and any remaining furniture with drop cloths or tarp to protect them. You will also need to cover any electrical outlets or light switches with painter’s tape.

Before you start removing your wallpaper, you need to determine whether you have brick walls or plaster walls underneath the wallpaper and what type of wallpaper you’re working with. If water and chemical strippers can damage your walls, you need to be careful not to over-soak them while removing the wallpaper. 

There are three main types of wallpaper, so you need to do a test to determine your type if you don’t already know. Use a putty knife or similar tool to loosen a corner of the wallpaper and try to peel it off.

  1. If the wallpaper peels right off, then you have strippable wallpaper
  2. If the wallpaper peels away, but the backing paper stays on the wall, then you have peelable wallpaper
  3. If the wallpaper doesn’t budge then you have a traditional wallpaper

Below, you’ll find instructions on how to remove each type of wallpaper.

DIY Guide for Wallpaper Removal - close up of a wallpaper with a pale green background and thin black lines and arch shapes

How to Remove Strippable Wallpaper

To remove strippable wallpaper you’ll need:

  • A putty knife or similar tool
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Rags or cloths

Using the putty knife you need to lift a corner of the paper. Once you’ve lifted a big enough piece to grab then you can start using your hands to slowly peel the wallpaper from your walls. You want to keep your hands as close to the wall as possible to keep the wallpaper from tearing. If the wallpaper does tear you just need to use your putty knife to loosen another piece before you start again.

Once you’ve peeled all the wallpaper from the walls you’ll need to give your walls a good cleaning to get rid of any residue. If you’re planning on hiring a painter to redo your walls for you, you’ll need to let the walls dry completely before they start.

DIY Guide for Wallpaper Removal - old and peeling blue wallpaper tearing away to show a white brick wall underneath

How to Remove Peelable Wallpaper

For this wallpaper removal you’ll need:

  • A putty knife or similar tool
  • A scoring tool (if necessary)
  • Water
  • Wallpaper stripper
  • Spray bottle, garden sprayer or paint roller
  • Ladder
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Rags
  • Rubber gloves

In the same way you removed the strippable wallpaper you can remove the top layer of this type of wallpaper using a putty knife. To remove the backing you’ll need to use the same technique described below for removing traditional wallpaper.

DIY Guide for Wallpaper Removal - close up of hand covered in paint and glue with a scraping tool, removing substance from a brick wall

How to Remove Traditional Wallpaper

Traditional wallpaper has the most time-consuming removal process. You will need:

  • Water
  • Wallpaper stripper
  • Spray bottle, garden sprayer, or paint roller
  • Putty knife or scraper
  • Wallpaper scoring tool (if necessary)
  • Ladder
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Rags
  • Rubber gloves

The first step will be to combine the wallpaper stripper with hot water according to the stripper instructions. You then need to use a spray bottle or paint roller to apply the solution to a small section of the wallpaper and let it soak for a few minutes. Once the solution has soaked into the wallpaper you can use your putty knife or scraping tool to start peeling the wallpaper off, working your way up the wall.

After you’ve removed a section of wallpaper you can start soaking your next section. If you find that the solution isn’t absorbing or it’s especially difficult to scrape, you can try scoring the wallpaper before you apply the solution.

Once all the wallpaper has been removed you’ll want to use soap and water to remove any residue or leftover wallpaper stripper.

DIY Guide for Wallpaper Removal - kitchen with bright orange chairs and a round dining room, with vibrant wallpaper in the background

Ready to Start Your Wallpaper Removal Journey?

Now that you’ve done the biggest part, you should consider hiring a handyman to help you fix any holes or scrapes the wallpaper removal process caused. Once all the wallpaper and glue residue is gone and the walls have been fixed you’ll have a blank canvas to work with. 

You can paint the walls or even have new wallpaper installed. Your imagination is the limit!

DIY Guide for Wallpaper Removal - close up of the corner of an ornate framed mirror, with a blue and white wallpaper behind it

Frequently Asked Wallpaper Removal Questions

What If the Wallpaper Glue Won’t Come Off?

If you’re struggling with how to remove glue from walls after removing wallpaper, don’t worry! 

To get a smooth and clean wall after removing your wallpaper you can mix hot water, some liquid dish soap, and a tablespoon of baking soda together before applying it to your walls.

This solution will soften the glue, allowing you to scrape it off. If it still isn’t coming off you can add one cup of vinegar per four litres of water to the solution.

What If These Techniques Don’t Work?

If your wallpaper isn’t budging no matter what you do, you might need to use a designated wallpaper removal steamer. The steamer will loosen the adhesive, allowing you to remove the wallpaper.

You’re in good company