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Top 5 DIY Methods for Stripping Wallpaper

Last Updated: November 8, 2023

Top 5 DIY Methods for Stripping Wallpaper

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Stripping wallpaper is useful to understand for any homeowner. Among many home improvement projects, adding or removing wallpaper still holds strong after many era-specific fads.

Some people think that wallpaper is an older trend, not in line with modern home finishings. While it did lose some of its popularity among DIY homeowners in the decades since the 1990s, interior designers have fueled the market.

In fact, the wallpaper market continues to grow every year. The global wallpaper market reached $2.3 billion in 2021 and is expected to top $3.2 billion by 2031. This growth is occurring even with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, global supply chain issues, and an increase in inflation.

Since wallpaper is still relevant to our home décor habits, it is wise to learn how to strip it when needed!

How Difficult is Stripping Wallpaper?

When my kids were little, they begged to have a wallpaper border in their rooms. I was hesitant because I knew that wallpaper could be tricky to install and even trickier to remove. But we went for it and decorated two bedrooms all the way around.

But their enjoyment of the wallpaper was short-lived. It began to peel a bit on the edges and this proved to be too much of a temptation for our little kids. We soon had borders of half-peeled off wallpaper, leaving us frustrated and the rooms looking untidy.

We had used wallpaper that was marketed as “heavy duty” and “extra strong.” The adhesive on the wallpaper was intended to hold tight. Since we just used a border wallpaper, we had lots of edges and the adhesive didn’t hold up as well there. But the centers of the strips were bonded tightly to the wall. The stronger the adhesive, the more difficult it is to remove.

So, we set to removing the wallpaper, and we were indeed correct. It was harder to get off than to put on. Why is that so?

Complications with Wallpaper Stripping

Vinyl-coated wallpapers, laminated wallpaper, and those with a fabric backing can be particularly stubborn, as they resist many of the effective stripping techniques. Water doesn’t penetrate them and they are manufactured with strong adhesive.

But with all that wallpaper in use, eventually it will need to be removed. It might begin to peel or tear, it can fade, or most likely, the homeowner simply wants a change. When it was time for us to remove our damaged wallpaper, we did our research and came upon some great tips that made this chore quick and easy.

Top 5 DIY Methods for Stripping Wallpaper

Stripping wallpaper is a straightforward DIY project. You can easily do the job in a day or two depending on the size of your room. There are several ways to remove wallpaper, so you’ll want to do some trial-and-error testing before committing to one specific technique.

Before stripping the wallpaper from your walls, you should take a few preparatory steps:

  • Clear the room of large furniture and all wall decorations
  • Cover floors and remaining furniture with drop cloths or plastic sheeting
  • Turn off the power before removing outlet covers and light fixtures
  • Ventilate the room by opening windows and setting up fans
  • Use safety equipment like gloves and safety glasses
  • Gather your supplies, including a putty knife, scraper, water bucket, and rags

These are the top 5 ways to strip wallpaper off your walls:

An infographic detailing top 5 DIY methods for stripping wallpaper
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1. Score and Soak

Use your putty knife or scoring tool to gently score the wallpaper. This allows water to seep under the wallpaper surface. You can then use hot water mixed with either liquid soap or fabric softener to soften the wallpaper.

Spray the wall with the water solution and wait for several minutes. The softened wallpaper can then be scrapped away. Reapply the water solution as many times as necessary until all the wallpaper is removed.

2. Chemical Stripping

You can purchase chemical stripping agents in either liquid or gel form. Pay special attention to the directions on the product for application and soaking tips. The chemical agent should be applied in an even layer and left on for the full recommended time.

Then use a stripping knife to scrape off the wallpaper. When using this method, it’s best to test on an inconspicuous part of the wall first to ensure there will not be any damage to the underlying wall.

3. Dry Stripping

Some wallpaper is manufactured to allow for easy removal. This is often called peelable wallpaper or temporary wallpaper. Vinyl-coated wallpaper is also easy to dry strip. To use this method, score the wallpaper and lift up a portion.

You can then simply grab the edge and peel off. The key is to work slowly. You can use a putty knife or scraper to remove any remaining backing or adhesive, taking care not to damage the wall.

4. Steam Stripping

Using a steamer is a great way to remove strong adhesive wallpaper. The steam penetrates the wallpaper better than just water or even chemical removers. The adhesive softens, allowing you to peel or scrap off the wallpaper. You can rent a steamer from your local home improvement store.

5. Combination Method

When dealing with very stubborn wallpaper, you may need to use a combination of these methods. This may involve soaking the wallpaper and then using a stripping steamer to further loosen the adhesive. You may have to work in small sections, alternating between scoring and soaking and then steaming and peeling.

Give Your Walls a Good Cleaning to Prepare for a Fresh Look

After you’ve removed all the wallpaper, you’ll need to clean the walls to remove any adhesive residue left behind. The easiest way to do this is to lightly spray the walls with diluted chemical stripping solution. Use a rag to wipe off the residue. Examine the wall for any damage and repair any scrapes or holes left in the plaster walls.

Once all the wallpaper and residue are removed, you have a clean blank slate ready for your design ideas, whether you are putting up more wallpaper or giving your room a fresh coat of paint.

Get a Dumpster for All Your DIY Home Improvement Trash

Are you getting rid of that old dated wallpaper in your home? You likely have other trash and waste to dispose of as you update your home’s look. Discount Dumpster is ready to partner with you. We make it easy to get a roll off rental dumpster at a price you can afford.

We offer dumpsters in a variety of sizes, starting with our compact 10 and 15 yard roll off dumpsters. These are perfect for all your home DIY projects. So ditch that old wallpaper and dated décor for a fresh new look for your home with a convenient and budget-friendly dumpster from Discount Dumpster.

Call Today for a Residential Cleanout Dumpster! - (888) 316-7010

About Monica Mayhak

I am an expert content writer with a depth of experience in the waste management and dumpster industry, with over 25 years of experience writing about construction, home improvement, property management, and education topics. As lead research writer for Discount Dumpster, I have expanded my knowledge and understanding of waste management, construction, and environmental issues over the past several years.

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