Remove old wallpaper and give your walls new life.

December 11, 2017

I must admit I am a total sucker for color. I love adding a splash of color or pattern to a room to create a fun and energized space. No one refutes that color and texture change the way a person feels, so why are we all so reluctant to make changes in our own homes?

So many of my friends have purchased beautiful homes, promising themselves to remove the tacky 80’s wallpaper as soon as they move in and they live with it for years. Taking a few days to remove the wallpaper will improve your experience in that room every day – so use a few of your days off this holiday season to spruce up your home. You won’t regret it.

Here are the steps to removing wallpaper:


I have taken wallpaper down in three of my own homes and I have tried just about everything under the sun. What I’ve discovered is that nothing works quite as well as a steamer. I purchased the Wagner Power Steamer for just under $100 and it was worth every penny. Not only can I use it for wallpaper, but it’s great for cleaning floors, upholstery and appliances.


Follow instructions and use the funnel to fill the steamer with water. Do not overfill it or you’ll make even more of a mess.

3.           PREPARE THE ROOM

If you are removing wallpaper in a room with carpet you will want to cover the floor. Wallpaper paste and remnants will be very hard to get out of your carpet. A heavy canvas drop cloth will work well here. Next use a box cutter to cut along trim pieces or built in furniture. Many builders will put the wallpaper up first, then install the fixtures and trim. By cutting along the margins you will get a nice clean edge. Keep in mind that you are working with water and you are likely to be dripping everywhere. A few towels on hand will be helpful.


After the steamer has fully heated up (mine has a light that turns green), attach the wallpaper plate, which is the large rectangular attachment. I advise starting at the top and working your way down. Some of the hot water will drip down the walls and make lower panels easier to remove. Place the wallpaper plate over your first part of wallpaper and hold down the trigger to release the steam for a good 5-10 seconds.

I use a plastic putty knife to scrape away the wallpaper. I find the metal knives can gouge the walls and leave a lot of touch up on the back end.

The wallpaper may come off in two stages, the heavy printed layer and the papery layer underneath. Use the steamer on the same section until the wall is free of any glue or paper.

5.           WASH THE WALLS

Although taking wallpaper down is arduous work, washing the walls is no better, and not nearly as gratifying. I use a bucket of hot water with a cup or two of white vinegar and a tablespoon of dish soap. This along with a scrubby sponge will do the job of getting the remaining paste off the walls. Keep washing until you can run your hand along the wall and feel nothing at all.

6.           PATCH

After the walls have had time to dry, patch any holes or imperfections. I use standard joint compound and the same puddy knife I used to take down the paper.

7.           PRIME

When all the patching has fully dried and you’ve sanded it down even with the wall, you can prime the walls with a high-quality primer and sealer. It’s important to get a primer with a sealer so that any leftover glue on the wall won’t bleed through your final paintjob.

8.           PAINT

No doubt this is the best part. Find a color that inspires you and paint the walls. Usually two coats will be needed for a nice even color.

CONGRATS! You’ve done it. Time is precious, I agree, so I use my time to improve my life. Taking down this wallpaper in my home has made me happier. Now I have a nice clean bathroom that feels fresh and new. Get after it people!

This is a great time of year for indoor projects and once that wallpaper is down, you will love the results. (See full project gallery below)

This story first appeared in The Herald Times on December 9th, 2017