How To Remove Wallpaper Easily

A pile of torn down old wallpaper sitting on a hardwood floor ready to be thrown away

Whether you've recently purchased a house with dated décor or you're hoping to give your home a facelift, you may start to side-eye that dated wallpaper. Removing wallpaper, especially older types, can be a tough job, but with the right tools and strategy, it may be more doable than you think.

If you're wondering how to remove wallpaper easily and quickly, let us walk you through your options and steps. Soon you'll enjoy the flexibility and possibilities of decorating a fresh, wallpaper-free wall.

Before You Start Peeling Off Your Wallpaper

A young lady pulling down bright blue wallpaper from a living room wall

If you’re ready to give your walls a facelift, your first instinct is probably to grab a corner of the paper and start pulling. While this strategy can work with some types of wallpaper (especially with newer peel-and-stick type wallpaper), it might not always be the best approach for all types.

Before you remove your wallpaper, you’ll want to assess the situation and then gather the right tools to make the job easier.

If you're unsure of what's going on under the wallpaper, it makes sense to lift a corner and see. How easily does the wallpaper pull up? Is it pasted down securely, or does it lift without much effort?

You also want to look at the type of wallpaper—paper or vinyl. Newer vinyl wallpaper is often easily strippable and may pull off in large pieces with minimal effort. However, if the wallpaper pulls off but leaves residual paper backing stuck to the wall, you will also need to peel off and remove the backing. The best method is usually a simple wallpaper removal spray. You can also follow other tips for removing wallpaper like using steam or the scoring and spraying method for more stubborn paper.

Then identify the type of wall. If the wall beneath the paper was painted and textured drywall, the wallpaper will likely be easier to remove. If the paper was applied to plaster or drywall, it's essential to work carefully and test as you go. Drywall can be damaged by liquid, so it's important to minimize the liquid used in removal.

Once you've determined the type of paper and wall, you're ready to get started. As with most projects, gathering your supplies is best before you begin the wallpaper removal process. You will need to cut power to the room since you'll be removing outlets and light fixtures. It may be helpful to have a lantern ready to light the space.

What Tools Will I Need to Remove Wallpaper?

Assemble all your tools before you begin. For most wallpaper removal projects, there are just a few items that can make the process smoother.

  • Screwdriver
  • Drop Cloth
  • Ladder
  • Gloves
  • Protective Eyewear
  • Wallpaper removal solution
  • Sponge
  • Pump sprayer
  • Broad knife (3 "-6" is best)
  • Trash bags

Gather your supplies before beginning. You'll want to clear any furniture and decorative items from your workspace. The easiest way to remove wallpaper is if you can freely move throughout the room. Next, take down all framed art and wall hangings.

You should turn off the power to the room using the breaker box. Be sure there is no power to the outlets before removing the switch plate covers and light fixtures. Remember that you'll be working with liquid, so it's best to keep the power off during the entire wallpaper removal process.

How to Remove Wallpaper in 7 Steps

A man using Zinsser DIF wallpaper remover to remove a red feathered wallpaper boarder underneith a chair rail

Step 1: Remove Outlets and Fixtures

Before you begin removing the wallpaper, use a screwdriver to remove all outlet covers. Often wallpaper is placed beneath the covers, and you’ll need them out of the way. Remove any fixtures that are covering the wallpaper as well.

Step 2: Clear and Protect Your Workspace

Put down a drop cloth or plastic sheet to protect the floor and other items in the room. As the wallpaper becomes moist, it will get tacky and sticky. There will also be paper debris from removing the wallpaper, so you'll definitely want to protect your floors and anything else in the room.

Step 3: Spray One Section of Wallpaper at a Time

Test one panel of wallpaper. To remove wallpaper, you’ll want to work in small sections. Spray the wallpaper removal solution on one section of the wall. Follow the instructions on the solution. Often, it takes a few minutes to soak into the paper. You may need to sponge onto the paper to encourage absorption.

Step 4: Remove the Wallpaper

Try pulling off the top layer of paper. With the wallpaper removal solution, the first layer of paper should pull off easily after a few minutes. If all the paper layers don’t come up, you may need to spray the solution on the paper again.

A close up image of a hand wearing a blue nylon glove holding a sponge wiping down a wall with wallpaper remover

Step 5: Use a Broad Knife to Clear Wallpaper Residue Gently

Gently scrape the paper and paste residue from the wall with a broad knife. Hold the knife flat as you scrape so you don't damage or gauge the wall. Gently work in small sections, taking care not to damage the plaster. If the residue doesn't come off easily, try to spray and let it set again.

Step 6: Assess Any Missed Spots

Once you’ve removed the wallpaper from the wall, take a step back and assess the walls. You may want to use the wallpaper removal solution one more time to ensure that the walls are free from tackiness or paper residue.

Step 7: Wipe Down the Walls

Once you’re sure all the wallpaper is gone, wipe down the walls with a damp sponge or cloth. Then let the walls dry completely before you start your next project. To be safe, it’s best to let the walls drive for at least 24-48 hours. Bag up the wallpaper debris and prepare for your next project!

Troubleshooting Wallpaper that is Hard to Remove

If you've tried the steps above and the wallpaper doesn't budge, there are a few options to troubleshoot hard-to-remove wallpaper.

Scouring wallpaper using a scouring tool

Score and Soak

Using a wallpaper scoring tool, gently score the paper. Scoring means making tiny cuts on the wallpaper, which allow the spray to soak in behind the paper. This is especially helpful for papers that have a waterproof-type coating. As you score, be sure to work very softly because it can very easily damage the wall beneath the paper.

After you’ve scored the wallpaper, use the spray wallpaper removal solution and allow it to set for several minutes. Work in small sections. This method is often best for people who plan to cover the walls with different wallpaper.

Steam the Wallpaper

Another option for removing difficult wallpaper is to use a wallpaper steamer. Steaming can soften and loosen the paste and adhesive, allowing you to lift the paper from the wall more easily. The steaming process can also help remove residue from textured walls unsuitable for a broad knife.

When you use a wallpaper steamer, it’s important to be very careful. The steamer is extremely hot and can burn. It’s also important not to use a steamer on paper-coated drywall, which can be damaged by too much moisture. Test an area before using this wallpaper removal method.

Remove Your Wallpaper the Easy Way

With just a few simple wallpaper removal tools, tips, and some elbow grease, you'll be ready to ditch that unsightly wallpaper and give your room a revamp.

Do it Best has all the tools and supplies you need for any home project. Remove wallpaper the easy way with the right equipment. You'll get everything you need to transform your home at Do it Best.

While do-it-yourself projects can be fun and fulfilling, there is always a potential for personal injury or property damage. We strongly suggest that any project beyond your abilities be left to licensed professionals such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and we assume no responsibility or liability for the contents of this article.