The joys of removing wallpaper

Removing wallpaper

One of the first DIY home renovation tasks we undertook was removing wallpaper from all the bedroom walls. It turned out to be one of the biggest and most time consuming tasks. Some rooms had multiple layers of wallpaper, plaster between layers of wallpaper, wood chips in the wallpaper and wallpaper that was glued on with wood glue!?!? We were determined to remove all of it. We tried a few different techniques but in the end found the technique below worked best for us.

Wallpaper disasters
Wallpaper with wood chips

The tools required for faster wallpaper removal are:

  • Steam wallpaper stripper
  • Sharpened scraper – an angle grinder can be used to sharpen the scraper
  • Plastic sheets – you can get 25m or 50m of plastic sheet rolls from hardware stores
  • Old sheets or old curtains courtesy of the previous owner 😉
  • Black bags
  • Ladder

Lay the plastic on the floor. This is useful for catching the stripped wallpaper and the old glue. It also makes tidying up a lot easier as it’ll be as simple as rolling up the plastic and throwing it into black bags. Laying old sheets or old curtains along the skirting helps absorb the excess water dripping from the steam stripper.

Place the ladder in one corner. Starting from the top, work over roughly a metre in width. If you are right handed, you’ll be holding the scraper in the right hand and the steamer in the left hand. Working from right to left, hold the steamer against the wall for about 20 seconds. As you move the steamer to the left, scrape away the steamed wallpaper from the right. Repeat this as far left as you can reach while standing on the ladder. If you leave the steamer on the wall for too long then you can crack the plaster. Continue to remove the wallpaper progressing downwards until you are eventually standing on the floor. Move your ladder to the left and repeat this process again from the top moving downwards.

If you’re planning to paint the walls once all the wallpaper is removed then you will need to wash the walls with sugar soap. This is to ensure all the old glue has been removed. If the walls have not been cleaned properly then the paint will start to peel at a later stage.

Removing wallpaper is an absolute pain in the butt. It is a time consuming and tedious task. We were both completely wall-papered out! But once all the wallpaper was removed it felt like the house could breathe again and it had been stripped back to a fresh and clean start 🙂 Yay! Natalie doing the dance of joy!


  1. charisse
    31st March 2016 / 11:34 AM

    yeah rather you than me. I may have to find a house that has never had wallpaper and buy that one 🙂

    • 31st March 2016 / 11:38 AM

      Haahahahhaha! But just in case, you know what to do now ;P

  2. Aysha
    1st April 2016 / 8:05 AM

    Thanks nat, i am renovating this summer and though i dont have any more wall paper to strip i will use the sugar soap to ckean the walls 👍👍

    • 1st April 2016 / 8:19 AM

      Thank you for reading and glad there was a useful tip for you 🙂

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