How to Remove Wallpaper


Our builder told us that we’d been removing wallpaper ALL WRONG and he was proven right because the previous day I’d held a steamer on too long and the plaster work had ‘popped’. Basically, the steam causes the plaster to get wet (or something) and it forms a bubble that breaks away. To be honest, we are lucky that we’ve been told to use hot water and a sponge instead seeing as our steamer set on actual fire. I know, inside the water chamber – WTF, right? Anyway, it was great dramz seeing as I was in a state of post holiday blues at the time.

So, we’ve used every method out there because we’ve had every type of wallpaper. Although, the majority was that incredibly thick stuff that when you removed it (with a chisel) you gain 4 inches to your room. See pic as one example.


Let’s do a step by step. Step by steps are great, it means you can skip all my meaningless drivel at the beginning. In fact, I think I’m even going to throw in some photos of myself removing wallpaper. Lucky you.

You can get sugar spray from your local DIY shop but honestly, hot water works fine and, although I haven’t tried this, I’m sure dissolving some sugar in hot water works just as well.

Step 1:

Dress in your fashionable-bottom-of-the-drawer-fits-awkwardly outfit as wallpaper bits go everywhere. Feel free to visit my high fashion site for inspiration: What I Wore Today Writing.

Step 2:

Using Stan score large areas all over your wall, don’t make it small, it will take forever to remove the paper (Mr. Brown disagrees with this but he’s not the master of this blog, I am). I recommend box shapes, some people seem to like crosses but I’m firmly in the box… Erm, box.


Step 2:

Using hot water and sponge wet the entire wall and then walk away. You need to let the water soak into the paper (hence the scoring, it helps it get right in there. Have you seen my Marjory video? I can imagine her saying… wait, maybe I should get her to do the tutorial…).


Sometimes the easiest way to start is to use Stanley to lift the edge of the paper.

Step 3:

Scrape away with thine scraper. If the backing paper stays on fret thee not. Take off the top layer and then wash the wall again and it will come away really easily.


Step 4:

The removal of the glue. It’s yellow, it’s thick, it’s everywhere. We made the grave mistake of not removing it as we went on our first room. You need to do this as you go because otherwise you have to re-wet/re-steam the walls and you will get glue rage. Now, this is why (as you’ll see in option two) you started at the top of your wall because the hot glue runs down the wall and so, if you start at the bottom you’re doubling the work. You then simply scrape off the remaining paste from the wall. There will be a surprising amount. It will look like snot.

After that we washed our walls down with warm water and dried them to test the stickiness.

The steamer – which, despite the advice of our builder we had to revert back to when the final room we tackled had wallpaper that was painted over. This is the hardest kind because the water just doesn’t get through, you need steam. With a steamer ALWAYS START AT THE TOP, the water will trickle on down.


This is a video of said wall, it took 1 1/2 hrs to do that one section…

This is my new fave because it smells right nice. Using a paint roller, hot water and some fabric softener (50/50 ratio) you just dunk and roll on your scored surface. You’re supposed to use unscented but I liked the fact our flat ended up smelling nice for once (the next video only took 20 mins).

Ta da! You have beautiful wallpaper free walls. If the wall is in good shape but has a few nicks in it then use a poly filler to cover them over and then give the wall a light sand to smooth everything out.

Sometimes you can just peel off the top layer by hand, it’s worth attempting this first.


Some walls (like most of ours) will need skimming with a layer of plaster. You want a smooth wall for the perfect finish, don’t just leave it all bumpy, you will notice it once you’ve painted. Wallpaper can hide a lot of thing. Like this:


Was it an internal window? Some shelves? The possibilities are endless.

Or even this:


Fortunately the lintel was still in one piece.

So, that’s how you remove wallpaper. It takes quite a bit of time but it’s not expensive to do yourself but if you’re after speed, get in the professionals otherwise you’ll have a bad case of stripper arm from trying to finish too quickly.

And remember, when your wallpaper has been removed your room will look worse. And then it will look even worse again.

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