How to Remove Wallpaper

How to remove Wallpaper:

We found that there is so much information out there on how to go about removing wallpaper, but after doing some research we have found these methods not only useful, but easy.

Firstly you are going to want to determine what type of wallpaper is on the wall. Is it strippable wallpaper, wallpaper with a peel-able top layer, or is it traditional wallpaper? Strippable wallpaper can be determined by using a putty knife and working under a corner, loosening it and seeing if you can peel it back with your hands and all of it peels away.  Wallpaper with a peel-able top layer can also be loosened at the corner, but this time the top layer can be pulled off, if the sheet does tear, start with a new corner.  Traditional and old wallpaper is harder to remove but we will be looking into removal techniques on this a little later on.  Another thing to keep in mind is what type of wall do you have – plaster is durable and hard and relatively water resistant, but with drywall one needs to be more careful about getting it too wet.

Where do I start?

The first thing you want to do is to prepare your room.  Try to move the furniture out of the room if you can, otherwise we recommend covering everything with old sheets. Don’t forget about protecting your floors as well.    Cover the exposed light switches and outlets, making it waterproof.  You can use tape for this.

Home made Recipe to remove Wallpaper Adhesive.

This is great for after removing the wallpaper and what we love about this is that it is toxin free and of course environmentally friendly!  All you need to do is mix hot water, a few drops of dishwashing liquid and a tablespoon of baking soda.  For more stubborn adhesive add about 1 cup of vinegar in 3 litres of water.  You can take a putty knife or flat object and carefully scrape the softened glue as you spray on the solution


How to remove Strippable Wallpaper:

Let's hold thumbs that you indeed do have strippable wallpaper as this is the easiest wallpaper by far!!

As we said before, you can start by loosening a corner with your putty knife and start pulling. The wallpaper can be pulled off in one piece, but if the sheet does tear, just start with a new corner.

You can now wash away residue with a sponge, using the hot water, soap and baking soda solution. Rinse and then dry the wall with a clean towel.





How to remove wallpaper with a peel-able top layer:

Just as with the strippable wallpaper, start by loosening a corner, you will see that the backing paper remains, that is perfectly normal, peel away the top layer until only the back layer is left not the wall, If the sheet tears, start with a new corner, the top layer is easy to remove and is very similar to Strippable wallpaper.

Once you have removed the top layer its time to tackle the bottom layer, you will have to soak the backing paper with water by applying warm water with a cloth or sponge and you can use a paint roller/brush for those tricky places.

Let the paper soak for approximately 20-30minutes, until you can see the water has soaked through, you can see if its ready to be removed by testing it with a scraper.

Now starts the heavy lifting, you can now scrape and then peel the paper off the wall after soaking, you can use a plastic putty knife to scrape the sticky areas.

After you have removed the wallpaper wash away any residue with a sponge, using the soap and baking soda solution and hot water. Rinse and then dry the wall with a clean towel.


How to remove Traditional Wallpaper.

We suggest using a steamer, but unfortunately South Africa does not have any companies that rents wall steamers, we did some research and couldn’t find any so you will be left with two options;

 Hire someone, however if you are on this page then this is not a option for you, the second would be to buy a steamer, luckily there are really good steamers on the market for a fair price and as a bonus, a steamer is a must in any home, so its a perfect time to get one - I personally have two - one for bathrooms and miffy places and one for floors - as I have dogs, I feel this is a godsend.


The steamer that I use and which has stood up to the test of time.

Karcher - SC1 - its small and easy to move around, however they might be discontinued, so my suggestion would be;

Karcher - SC2 Easy fix Steam Cleaner 

And Makro sells the wall fitment - Link here

Okay so now that you have acquired the steamer, tip number one is always Wear long sleeves and gloves as the Steamer will drip hot water, as you are holding it at an angle above you, it is inevitable that hot water will drip.

Traditional wallpaper is hard to remove, so be prepared.

We suggest that you start in sections;

First you will want to score your wallpaper, helping the steam to penetrate.

You might be asking how do I score wallpaper?  Firstly - most of the time, scoring of wallpaper is not necessary, as scoring is quite evasive.  But when do I then use a scoring tool and what is a scoring tool? Link here

Scoring tools are used for very old wallpaper, which is hard to remove and for wallpaper that has been painted over, it helps speed up the process.


We recommend starting with many shallow cuts in one small section.  This will allow the liquid (steam or stripping solution), to penetrate and loosen the adhesive and will help you determine how deep the score will need to be to penetrate and that way you can get it right first time round.

Once you have determined the depth of the score needed, you can start by scoring your first section, now you will want to steam the wallpaper,  hold the steamer against the wallpaper to soften and loosen the adhesive.  The longer you steam, the easier the wallpaper will peel off.

NOTE: If you have drywall, be careful as the extra moisture may damage your walls.

After steaming, take a plastic putty or drywall knife and scrape the wallpaper as you go. Peel upwards as this will make it easier to wedge the putty knife between the uplifted paper and the wall.

After you have removed the wallpaper wash away any  residue with a sponge, using soap and hot water. Rinse and then dry the wall with a clean towel.


Removing traditional wallpaper with stripping solution:

As with the steaming method, you will want to score the wallpaper, making holes for the stripping solution to penetrate the adhesive. 

Fill a bucket with hot water, as hot as possible and mix in wallpaper stripper as per instructions on the bottle. 

Keep in mind to mix the stripping solution in small doses, as you need it with very hot water. 

ALWAYS wear gloves.

You can either use a paint roller, sponge or large paint brush to apply the solution to the wallpaper.  Using a spray bottle is also a possibility and easier to apply the solution, but the water will cool down faster.

If you go with the paint brush/sponge option, you will now soak it in the solution and saturate a section which you will be able to strip in 10 to 15 minutes. 

Do small sections at a time and let your solution soak for several minutes, giving it time to do its work.  After soaking you can now use a plastic putty knife and peel away pieces of the wallpaper.  You want to peel upwards which makes it easier to wedge the putty knife between the uplifted paper and the wall.

After you have removed the wallpaper wash away any residue with a sponge, using the soap and baking soda solution and hot water. Rinse and then dry the wall with a clean towel.



For how to apply wallpaper, check out our "how to apply wallpaper" article.