Say goodbye to outdated wallpaper and hello to fresh walls ready for your style makeover! 🎨✨

Have you found your perfect house, you know the one that has every element you like and want in a home in the perfect location?   But you just can’t bring yourself to buy it because the previous owner’s taste in wallpaper was dreadful!?  I urge you to not  be dissuaded from going ahead with that purchase. Stripping wallpaper to prep for a fresh coat of paint can be an intimidating task. Its daunting reputation is often well-earned due to the sticky adhesive that clings stubbornly to the walls, making it a significant chore. However, with the right approach, tools, and patience, it can be accomplished smoothly. This detailed guide will outline the comprehensive steps involved in removing wallpaper effectively.

While it’s not a few minutes job, it’s important to note that removing wallpaper is far from a nightmare. When the time comes to bid adieu to your dated wallpaper in favor of a modern design or a new paint color, having a strategy can ease the process. Forget the horror stories you may have heard; remember, proper preparation and patience are the keys to achieving your goal.

Protect The Surface And Floor Work

One of the initial steps in the wallpaper removal process is to protect the surfaces and floors in the room. As you strip the wallpaper, your workspace is bound to get wet and sticky, which can damage your furniture and floor. To avoid this, cover your floor with a thick drop cloth or old sheets to soak up the liquid and prevent slips.

For the furniture, if it’s feasible, it’s best to remove it from the room. If this isn’t an option, shift your furniture to the center of the room and cover it with a cloth or plastic sheet to safeguard it from any splashes or debris.

Start To Scrape It

Once your workspace is set, begin the process by removing the top layer of the wallpaper. This is done without the use of water or soap. It involves using a taping knife or scraper to peel off the wallpaper gently. This action will leave the backing on the wall, which, when dampened later, will make the entire removal process significantly easier.The duration of this step depends on the age and type of your wallpaper. Older wallpapers may take longer as they might come off in tiny pieces. In contrast, newer wallpapers usually peel off more easily.

(Note – a previous owner may have skipped this entire process previously and just put new wallpaper over existing wallpaper.  You will find out if that is the case in this first step when you start to scrape.  If you find that is the case, there are wallpaper removal steamers that you can rent at home improvement stores to make the job of removing multiple layers of wallpaper easier..)

Spray The Backing

Over time, you’ll find that you’ve peeled off as much paper as possible using the scraper or your hands. In this scenario, begin spraying warm water on the remaining backing. This moisture will soften the backing, making it easier to remove.

Remember to be cautious not to damage your walls during this process. Plaster walls are typically more resistant to water, but drywall can sustain damage due to prolonged water exposure. Therefore, it’s advisable to work in small sections to prevent the paste from drying up before you can scrape it off.

Allow the backing to soak in the water for at least 15 minutes or until it begins to peel off from the wall. This may require several applications of water. Once the paste is sufficiently softened, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Start To Scrape The Backing

Using a putty knife or a spatula, scrape off the now softened backing from the wall. If you still find the backing resistant, try moistening it again by spraying more water. The tool you use should preferably have rounded corners to prevent gouging the wall. If such a tool isn’t available, you can file the edges of a regular knife to create a rounded edge.

Exercise care while scraping to avoid damaging the underlying wall surface. The objective is to gently scrape off the backing without causing any unnecessary harm to the wall.

It’s Tme To Wash The Wall

This next step is perhaps the most crucial part of the wallpaper removal process. Once you’ve removed the backing from the wall, you’ll likely find remnants of adhesive or paste left on the surface. Removing this sticky residue is vital for the success of your future wall treatments. Invest substantial effort into thoroughly cleaning the wall. Start by continuing to scrape with the putty knife as much as possible. Following this, use a sponge and clean water to wash the wall.


The importance of this step cannot be overstated. If any paste remains on the wall when you go to paint it, the paint will not adhere correctly. It may crackle, peel, or come off entirely. Likewise, if you intend to hang new wallpaper, it will not stick properly if any residue remains.

For particularly stubborn adhesive, consider using a spray gel stripper. Apply it to the paste and let it sit for at least 20 minutes. This allows the gel to penetrate and soften the glue, making it easier to remove. After this period, scrape off the gel and the underlying paste simultaneously. Once you’ve removed as much of the paste as possible, rinse the wall thoroughly with clean water.

Smooth Out The Wall

With the wall now free of wallpaper and adhesive, it’s time to smooth and prep it for its next treatment. This usually means leaving it to dry completely, usually for a full day.

Even the smallest remnant of paste can cause problems for your new paint or wallpaper. Therefore, once the wall is dry, inspect it closely. Look for and remove any lingering adhesive. If you notice any unevenness or damage from the removal process, now is the time to repair it.

Depending on your next steps, choose the right primer for your wall. If you plan to apply new wallpaper, use an acrylic primer specifically designed for wallpaper applications. This type of primer will make any future wallpaper removal process easier. If you intend to paint the wall, select a primer suitable for the paint to ensure proper adhesion and a smooth finish.

The Bottom Line

Removing old, outdated wallpaper can refresh your space.   Despite its bad reputation, wallpaper removal doesn’t have to be a horrifying experience. With the right techniques, the appropriate tools, and a hefty dose of patience, you can handle this task like a pro.

Remember that, like any home improvement project, the process of removing wallpaper requires time, effort, and careful planning. Don’t rush through the steps, and give yourself ample time to do the job right. With diligence and care, you can strip your old wallpaper, preparing your room for its new look, whether that’s a fresh, modern wallpaper design or a vibrant coat of paint.