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What Are the Best Ways to Remove Wallpaper?

Last modified: 2022-12-27 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

Cynthia Pigeon

Although it's making a comeback with interior designers, wallpaper can nevertheless end up being distasteful to anyone once they tire of its pattern and colours.

As a result, in an effort to get rid of it quickly, and make room for new decor, some people will use ineffective removal techniques that prolong the time normally required to do so. To avoid unnecessary time spent and frustration, here's an overview of the best wallpaper removal techniques and some general advice.

The Art of Wallpaper Removal 

Few precautionary measures to take before removing your wallpaper

dark green wallpaper_What Are the Best Ways to Remove Wallpaper?

  • Disconnect the main electrical circuit that supplies the outlets and light switches in the room in which you’re working to avoid any potential accidents. You'll also have to remove the outlets so that you can temporarily connect the cables to electrical dominoes.
  • Remove any decorative light switch and electrical outlet plate and cover the cavities tightly to prevent moisture from penetrating.
  • Remove all furniture from the room to avoid damaging or simply clearing any obstacles.
  • Lay a plastic sheet down to protect the floor. To avoid the sheet from shifting on the floor, secure it to the edges of the wall with adhesive tape.
  • Since the peeled wallpaper will likely be wet and sticky, place it directly in a trash can. This way, you can work without being unnecessarily encumbered by remnants that’ll stick to your feet.

4 Wallpaper Removal Techniques

white wallpaper_What Are the Best Ways to Remove Wallpaper?

1) Use warm water and liquid detergent mixture

The first method consists of wetting the surface of the wallpaper with a mixture of hot water and liquid detergent. To allow the wallpaper to fully absorb this mixture, we suggest adding a small handful of cellulose paste (paper pulp) to each bucket of the mixture that’s needed to complete the job. Wait for the wallpaper to curl before attempting to remove it.

2) Mix warm water and laundry detergent

Another variation of this technique is to use a mixture of water and laundry detergent. As for the ratio, use about a capful of detergent per litre of water. The best time to start removing the wallpaper is when it starts to curl or when you see small bubbles appear on the surface.

Few specs regarding the two previously mentioned methods:

Regardless of which option you choose, use a paint roller rather than a sponge or spray bottle; it'll allow you to work faster.

Also, try to use water that's as hot as possible to maximize the efficiency of the process. Finally, remember that using a plastic scraper (the wider the better) is preferred to a metal one to avoid damaging your wall during the process.

3) Use a wallpaper removal steam machine

black and white wallpaper_What Are the Best Ways to Remove Wallpaper?

You can also choose to use a wallpaper removal steam machine. This tool is very efficient and will allow you to remove your wallpaper in record time. Using a plastic scraper, you'll be able to peel back a corner of the wallpaper as in the techniques mentioned above. However, you'll have to budget for the rental of this apparatus. As a rough estimate, it'll cost you between $20 and $25 to do so.

All you have to do is rest the tip of this device on the wall, then the paper and glue will come off in a matter of seconds. Since the heat produced by this type of machine is rather intense, wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt to avoid any skin irritation on account of the heat. Note that using this type of machine is especially useful when removing multi-layered or vinyl wallpaper since they’re quite resistant.

4) Use a chemical stripper

While making sure to wear gloves and protective goggles, you can also use a chemical stripper to remove wallpaper. If the wallpaper in question is water-resistant or made of vinyl, scuff the entire surface with a wire brush before applying the stripper to allow the product to fully permeate. Be careful not to press too hard on the brush or you may damage your wall in the process. Follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding timing to ensure the use of the chemical stripper is effective.

Afterwards, remember to…

  • Clean the wall with a mixture of hot water and soap as quickly as possible to remove any remnants of glue and wallpaper. It'll be much easier to remove if the wall is still wet.
  • Prior to painting, sand the wall to avoid any irregularities that may show through after one or more coats of paint.

In a Nutshell: Wallpaper Removal Techniques 

Techniques Steps

1) Use warm water and liquid detergent mixture

  • Prepare warm water and liquid detergent mixture;
  • Add a bit of pulp to the mix;
  • Apply the mixture to the wall with a paint roller;
  • Remove the wallpaper with a plastic scraper.

2) Use a mixture of warm water and laundry detergent

  • Prepare the warm water and laundry detergent mixture by mixing a capful per litre of water;
  • Apply the mixture with a paint roller;
  • Wait for the wallpaper to curl or for little bubbles to appear on the surface;
  • Use a plastic scraper to remove the wallpaper.

3) Use a wallpaper removal steam machine

  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt and gloves;
  • Lay the tip of the machine on the wall, the wallpaper and glue should peel back after a few seconds;
  • Remove the wallpaper by first peeling back a corner with a plastic scraper.

4) Use a chemical stripper

  • Get gloves and protection goggles;
  • Scuff the wallpaper with a wire brush (for water-resistant and vinyl wallpapers);
  • Apply the stripper;
  • Wait for the product to take effect and peel back the wallpaper.

Are you hoping to learn more about the various types of wall coverings? Check out our article 10 Examples of Unique Wall Covering Materials

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