How to remove wallpaper

How to remove wallpaper

There’s no getting around the fact that dealing with wallpaper is a tricky job. If you don’t want to get in the professionals, then with some careful preparation and patience, you could master removing wallpaper all by yourself.

Preparing the space

Before you get started, remember removing wallpaper can get messy. Make sure you adequately prepare the area, covering the floor with some dust sheets and removing all fixtures and fittings from the wall.  Where they can’t be removed, make sure they are covered to prevent any damage from moisture or old wallpaper.

Start by removing any wallpaper that will come away without too much effort. Starting in one corner, pull away the wallpaper that will loosen. You may find that, particularly with relatively new wallpaper, you can pull away full sheets with little effort. By exposing the backing, when you apply the hot water to the wall it can start to break down the paper and adhesive, making it easier to remove. If this is proving too difficult, use a scoring tool to make holes in the paper, which will have the same effect.

Removing the wallpaper

You can remove wallpaper with the help of some hot water and fabric softener. Prepare a half and half mixture and if possible, put this in a spray bottle. This will allow you to distribute the hot water evenly across the wall. If you don’t have one to hand, a sponge floor mop, or just a regular sponge work well too. Try to use very hot water, and keep refreshing your mixture to ensure it stays hot. The warmer this is the easier you will remove the wallpaper. Wetting small sections of the wall at a time, leave for 10-15 minutes before trying to scrape away the paper. After this time, the water should have loosened the paper, making it far easier to remove.

Using a putty knife or metal spatula, start scraping off the wallpaper from the dampened section. Whatever you decide to use, ensure it has rounded corners and don’t apply too much pressure, in case this damages the wall underneath. While plaster walls tend to be able to take some force, a drywall could be easily gouged by an over-zealous metal spatula!

If you are planning on painting over your new wallpaper-free wall, you should be extra vigilant to make sure every trace of adhesive has been removed. Painting over wallpaper paste could cause your paint to bubble, flake and chip off. If there is still a sticky residue on your wall, then unfortunately your job isn't finished. Continue to rub down the walls with your soapy mixture until this has been completely removed.

Tools for tough jobs

In some cases, particularly with older wallpaper or glossy wallpaper, fabric softener and hot water may not be enough to remove every trace of paper and adhesive. In these cases you may require some stronger methods to do the job. There are a number of chemical and gel strippers that are designed to loosen the most hardened on wallpaper. An electric steamer may also do a better job of adding moisture to the paper and loosening it, ultimately making it easier to remove.

If you have already tried the above and are still struggling to remove your wallpaper, remember have a team of dedicated professional decorators who could do the job for you. Just give us a call on 0843 216 3645.

Our Painting and Decorating Team covers London and the surrounding areas, and our team is over 100 strong. Meet a few of our painting and decorating experts.

  • London Professional decorator, Stuart Macey Stuart Macey Professional decorator in E13
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