Project: Stripping Wallpaper

Our house had a lot of wallpaper when we moved in. I don’t mind the pattern in the dining room, but I either hated the pattern or the paper was riddled with screw and nail holes that are impossible to patch without making the wallpaper look a thousand times worse. I was actually pretty lucky in that the first room I went to remove the wallpaper in, only 3 of the 4 walls had wallpaper on it. I was even luckier when I grabbed an edge and the entire sheet of wallpaper came off the wall easily as can be.

Unfortunately, not all the wallpaper was as poorly installed as that first room. So what do you need to remove the stuck-on wallpaper from plaster walls?

Hammer or Screw Driver, for getting all those pesky nails, screws, and other miscellaneous items out of the wall.

Step stool, unless you are tall like my 6’4’’ husband. He laughed at my attempts that all ended with a foot or two of wallpaper still attached to the top of the wall.  

Steamer, doesn’t have to be fancy or industrial. We used the steamer from our friend’s laundry room.

Scraping tool, this can be a putty knife, an official wall scraper, whatever you have that is a bit stiff and can get under the edge.

Trash Bags, trust me, you don’t want that damp wallpaper sitting on your floors in case the dye starts to run off and stain things

Wall Putty, for patching the holes in the walls from all those nails and screws before you begin sanding.

Sandpaper or Hand Sander, This can help get the last bits of glue off or just even up any parts of the wall they were hiding behind the wallpaper. You will want a facemask for this part to keep the dust of your lungs. Glasses aren’t bad either!

This picture perfectly demonstrates how short I am! 


The first thing you want to do is remove all the nails, screws, hooks, or anything else sticking out of the walls. I think I went over the walls three times, and still found more nails when I went to strip the wallpaper. It is easier if you can find them all the first time, but even without multiple people doing it, it’s literally impossible.

When using the steam, be careful not to burn yourself or hold it in such a way that causes drips. Scald burns are real, and they are not fun. Go over a small section of the wallpaper at a time, steaming it, before scrapping it with your scrapping tool of choice. This isn’t as time-consuming as it sounds, but it isn’t easy either. The wallpaper may come off in big strips or in tiny flakes.

When it’s time to refill the steamer, take the time it needs to reheat to bag up the wallpaper pieces on the floor. Cleaning up as you go will make the whole process easier and you won’t have to worry about the dog trying to nap on sticky wallpaper pieces.

Once all the wallpaper is gone, wipe down the walls with a wet rag and let it dry. Fill in any hole with putty.

Then it is time to sand. Honestly, I think my husband went a little bit overboard with sanding. We have very old plaster walls. None of them are close to smooth except for the walls he sanded. After you are done sanding, wipe down the walls one last time before you start painting.

I think my next DIY post will be on painting!



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