Stripping Wallpaper - Tips on Wallpaper Stripping Using a Scraper and Wallpaper Steamer

Summary: Stripping and removing wallpaper. Learn how to strip wallpaper and remove the wallpaper efficiently. We show you the best way of stripping wallpaper using both a hand scraper and also a wallpaper steamer. Additionally we show you a trade secret from the pros that will making stripping wallpaper easier.

Don't want to do this job yourself? Let us help you find a tradesman local to you

Traditional Method for Stripping Wallpaper

Stripping wallpaper, more than anything else, requires patience. If stripping wallpaper is not the worst job in the entire world we would like to know what is!

Stripping wallpaper easily and quickly depends on getting to the paste underneath the paper and rendering it in such a way that it dissolves very easily. The traditional method usually involves buckets of warm water.

Protect Your Floors and Furnishings

First you must protect your floor and furnishings if they are to stay in the room. Use a polythene dust sheet wherever possible as there is usually a great deal of water around.

Don't waste any time here and try to get the paper off without wetting it unless it is a vinyl paper. If it is vinyl, then you should be able to peel away the top vinyl layer leaving the porous backing paper on the wall.

Score the Paper With a Hobby Knife

Using a hobby knife, score lines in the paper to break the surface. Do not press too hard or you will damage the wall. This will allow the water, or steam, you are going to apply to soak into the backing paper and effectively dissolve the adhesive.

Fill a Bucket With Hot Water

Having scored the paper (proprietary scoring tools can now be found in DIY stores) fill a bucket with warm to hot water. Now this is the bit where you will score points over your competitors. Add some washing up liquid to the water.

This is a pro trick which helps to dissolve the wallpaper adhesive and makes life a lot easier in most circumstances. Apply the water to the paper with a decorators sponge and leave to soak in for ½ and hour, then repeat the soaking.

We told you there would be plenty of water about. Make sure the water is hot ( Do not scald yourself) every time. Be patient and let it soak in again for a while.

Scrape Paper off With a Scraper

Find a scraper you are happy with. A wide scraper is difficult to use because it is hard to keep a constant pressure over the full width of the blade. This leads to small strips being missed which are a real pain to go back on. We always use a 3 inch scraper.

Adjustable wall scraper

Adjustable wall scraper - Available in our store

Don't be afraid to add more water as you move along the wall.

Quick Wallpaper Stripping Checklist

  • Protect your walls and floors with dust sheets and protective coverings
  • Score lines in the paper on the wall to allow the water to penetrate
  • Fill a bucket with hot water and add some washing up liquid
  • Sponge the soapy water on to your walls and allow to soak for half an hour
  • Repeat the soaking process again
  • Get stuck in with your scraper and scrape the paper off the wall

Using a Steam Wallpaper Stripper

For particularly stubborn papers, especially those with paint on, its a lot easier and far more effective to use a steam stripper. Steam strippers are so easy to use and very effective indeed. We always use one, whatever the paper or conditions.

Place Steaming Plate Flat on the Wall

Water is heated by an element within the machine, and just like your kettle, when it boils it steams. This steam is piped to a flat steaming plate which is held on the wall.

Wallpaper steamer

Wallpaper steamer - Available in our store

The hot steam does the same job as the hot water above and "melts" the wall paper adhesive. It's then very easy to use your scraper and strip off.

Don't Burst the Plaster

Be careful not to leave the steamer plate on the wall in one place too long as it can burst the plaster. Keep moving gently backwards and forwards rather than dwell in one place.

These days it's as cheap to buy a steam stripper as it is to hire one, but remember when filling the steam stripper with water, do not put washing up liquid in!

Wallpapering Your Clean Wall

If you are lucky enough to have a new wall to paper, take a look at our project on preparing new walls for wallpaper. We also have many other decorating projects in our decorating projects section.

Take a look at our video sections on decorating basics and how to correctly wallpaper to watch films on wallpaper removal.

Don't fancy doing this project yourself? We work with Plentific to ensure that we recommend only reliable and trustworthy tradesmen.

All project content written and produced by

Project Feedback