How to Remove Wallpaper

How to Remove Wallpaper

Getting ready to redecorate and need to remove wallpaper from the walls? Wallpaper removal may sound like a huge task, but follow the proper techniques and removing wallpaper is actually very simple.

Prep Your Space

Clear your space before removing paper from the walls. Use these simple tips to prepare your space:

  • Remove all furniture or push it to the middle of the room and cover with plastic.
  • Tape off any baseboards with painter’s tape and plastic drop cloths to prevent water damage to baseboards or floors.
  • Cover outlets with painter’s tape so water doesn’t drip into them. Turn off electricity to the room for extra safety. Use an extension cord from another room with a lamp to light the space if needed.

Some types of wallpaper remove quickly and others take more time. Give yourself a full day or weekend to complete the project.


There are four main types of wallpaper: peel and stick wallpaper, strippable wallpaper, traditional wallpaper, and wallpaper with a removable top layer. Each has its own removal method, so determining the type of wallcovering is crucial.

To figure out what kind of wallpaper you are working with, try removing some without water or a wallpaper remover. How it comes off the walls will tell you what kind of wallpaper it is.

  • Peel and Stick – will peel off the wall in full sheets
  • Strippable – will easily come off the wall in full sheets
  • Traditional wallpaper – will be harder to remove and come off in smaller sections
  • Wallpaper with a removable top layer – top layer will remove fairly easily, but will leave a paper backing on the wall

Now that the room is prepped and the type of wallpaper determined, it’s time to get to work.

1. Peel and Stick Wallpaper

Peel and stick wallpaper has recently risen in popularity due to its easy installation and mess- and residue-free removal.

  • Start at the top corner and pull the wallcovering down gently but firmly, working parallel to the wall.
  • If you plan on reusing the peel and stick wallpaper, pull it down slowly and gently. You can easily over-stretch it.
  • Pro Tip! Don’t allow the adhesive sides of the wallpaper to make contact, especially if you want to reuse it. They are very difficult to separate once they have touched.

2. Strippable Wallpaper

Strippable wallpaper, like our Sure Strip wallpaper, is the easiest to remove. The pre-pasted backing is specifically designed for quick and easy removal.

  • At the top of the wallpapered section, find a loose corner or peel back a small section with a utility knife or scraper.
  • Pull the entire sheet straight down, keeping your hands close to the section that is still attached to the wall.
  • If you are having a hard time removing it, spray the front with water to help activate the paste.
  • Repeat with all sheets of wallpaper.
  • If a particular section of strippable wallpaper seems stuck, use a little bit of water on a sponge or in a spray bottle to loosen the paste.
  • Use warm water with a little dish detergent and a sponge to wipe down the walls, cleaning off any small bits of paste that didn’t come off when you removed the paper.

3. Traditional Wallpaper

Traditional wallpaper includes both some wallpaper that removes in full strips and some that removes in layers. Traditional wallpaper removes most easily when using proper removal tools and following product directions and the following steps:

  • Use a wallpaper scoring tool to poke small holes the wallpaper’s surface. The holes allow the water and wallpaper remover to penetrate the paper and get to the paste.
  • Working in 3 foot sections, soak the scored wallpaper with hot water or wallpaper remover. You can purchase a wallpaper remover online or at your local hardware store. However, hot water with vinegar or hot water with a fabric softener works just as well. Alternatively, you can rent a wallpaper steamer from most hardware stores.
  • Pro Tip! If your wallpaper is hung on dry wall, make sure you don’t over-saturate for long periods of time. It’s okay to get it damp for short period of time, but longer exposure can cause damage.
  • Use a scraper or spackling knife to remove the soaked wallpaper, making sure to not damage the wall underneath.
  • To make sure that all residue is gone, wipe down walls with warm water and dish detergent.

4. Wallpaper with a Peelable Top Layer

Often vinyl, this type of wallpaper can be removed while its backing remains on the wall, making removal a 2-step process.

  • Strip off the top layer of the wallpaper. If it gets stuck, use warm water on a sponge or in a spray bottle to loosen. It should come down easily to reveal the paper and paste backing.
  • Use any of the removers listed in the “Traditional Wallpaper” section to saturate the paper backing remaining on the wall.
  • With a scraper or spackling knife, scrape the paper away from the wall.
  • Wipe down with a sponge and warm water with a touch of dish detergent to make sure you have removed all paste and residue.

Finishing Up

Now that all the wallpaper is removed, give the walls 2-3 days to dry completely. Leave a fan or two running in the space to ensure proper air circulation. After a few days, your space is ready to redecorate and hang your new vibrant wallpaper. Move the furniture back in and enjoy a space that is completely you.