How to remove wallpaper

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You want to replace the wallpaper in your home. For example if you’ve moved, or maybe you just feel like a change. Of course you can get a specialist to do the job, but it’s also easy enough to do it yourself.

  1. Preparation

    Removing wallpaper makes a lot of mess, with water splashes and paper and paste residues. It’s a good idea to use a polythene sheet or tarpaulin to prevent water damage. Place cupboards and other furniture in the middle of the room, wear old clothes and make sure you have a sturdy step ladder. Electricity outlets and switches need extra attention, and should be carefully covered with masking tape. Switch off the electrical group in the meter cabinet for the room in which you’re working, and check that the power outlets in the room really are switched off.

  2. Using wallpaper stripper

    For relatively small walls you can use wallpaper stripper. Dilute the stripper according to the instructions on the pack. Apply generously with a wallpaper brush, and leave to soak for a few minutes. Then you can scrape the wallpaper off with a wide filling knife. When you’ve finished, clean the wall thoroughly with water and a hard brush. Repair cracks and other damage with filler, including any gaps between plasterboard panels. After drying, sand the repairs to remove any unevenness in the surface.

  3. Lightweight wallpaper

    Make cuts in the wallpaper or use a perforating roller to make small holes. Apply a solution of stripper and warm water to the wallpaper using a sponge or a clean brush, and leave it to soak for a few minutes. Then scrape the paper off with a wide filling knife. Remove wallpaper residues with sandpaper.

  4. Heavy wallpaper

    Make small holes in the wallpaper with a perforating roller. Then steam the wallpaper with a steam wallpaper stripper. The perforations will ensure that the steam reaches behind the wallpaper, which can then be stripped off more easily. This is a good method to remove wallpaper which has been painted over, because otherwise the paper is resistant to moisture.

    Vinyl wallpaper
    Vinyl wallpaper consists of two layers which need to be removed separately. You can strip the top layer off the bottom layer without using stripper. Then you can just apply new wallpaper onto the this bottom layer. If you want to remove all the layers, use a perforating roller or wire brush followed by a steam wallpaper stripper.

    Lining paper
    Lining paper can easily be pulled off the wall.

  5. Fiber lining paper

    This kind of wallpaper is applied using water-based paste. Make cuts or perforations in the wallpaper, using a heavier perforating roller that can penetrate more easily through the paper to the adhesive layer. Soak the paper with hot water using a sponge.
    Fiber lining paper is usually overpainted with emulsion paint. This is waterproof, which makes it harder to remove by steaming and soaking. The only option is then to sand the surface before stripping. Or you could decide not to strip the wallpaper, but instead to paint over it in the desired color. That will save you a lot of time and effort.

  6. Painted wallpaper

    If your walls are painted with acrylic paint, you can clean them with soapy water containing a degreasing product. Sand the surface where the paint is damaged or peeling, this will improve the adhesion of the wallpaper. It is advisable to treat the walls with primer before applying the wallpaper.

  7. Steam wallpaper stripper

    For large areas it’s best to use a steam wallpaper stripper. Fill the machine with water and wait until the water reaches working temperature. Start at the top in a corner, and hold the steam nozzle on the same spot for a few moments. The wallpaper will then soften, and you can easily scrape it off using a wide filling knife. Work carefully and smoothly, otherwise you may damage the surface which will mean you need to fill it later. Work from the top of the wall downwards, because the water from the steam stripper will then drip down the wall and moisten the wallpaper below. If the adhesive easily softens, you can (carefully!) pull large pieces off the wall with the help of the filling knife. Finally, remove any wallpaper and adhesive residues with sandpaper.

  8. Finishing

    After you’ve removed the wallpaper, you’ll find there are always some small remaining residues. Soak these spots well and scrape the residues off with the filler knife, or sand them with a sanding sponge. Fill any holes or other damage with wall filler and spread smoothly with the filler knife.

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