If you’re redecorating, stripping wallpaper is an essential but arduous job. You may be going full-out DIY, or taking care of this stage yourself to save money before leaving the rest of the work to a professional decorator.
While it’s a fairly straightforward job, like any aspect of decorating, there are certain processes that are important to follow if you want to get it done efficiently and to the required standard – you can’t hang new wallpaper in lumpy, sticky walls!
Steam strippers are a great idea and can make fairly light work of it, but if you only have one stripper, but several hands on deck, you can mix it up with some manual labour! For some people, they actually find the manual approach quicker and more satisfying. Let’s take a look at the right way to do both.
Preparing your walls for stripping
Whichever method you’re going to use to strip your wallpaper, you need to make sure you cover floors and any furnishing that you can’t remove from the room. If possible, tape some plastic sheeting from the top of the skirting board, and out to about the first couple of feet from the bottom. You can also use towels, large sheets or similar. Remember there’s going to be a lot of water, so also cover any electrical outlets with tape.
The next thing you need to do is find an edge of the wallpaper that’s already lifting from the wall slightly, preferably a top corner. Lift it further with a putty knife and then gently but firmly grip with both hands, and start to peel it back, using a 45 degree angle and moderate pressure. If you can peel the top layer away, continue to do so throughout the room. If the paper doesn’t come away, skip straight to the next step.
Stripping wallpaper – the soak and scrape technique
- Use a scoring tool or small knife to criss-cross score marks across the paper – don’t apply too much pressure!
- Fill a bucket with very warm water – as hot as you can comfortable submerge your hand in – and some washing up liquid or fabric conditioner.
- Use a car washing sponge to wet the walls liberally – leave to soak.
- Make a cup of tea!
- Start again! Once you’ve done some more soaking, you can start to scrape the paper – it should peel off in long strips if you place a bit of pressure on the end of the scraper blade as you guide it up, down or across the paper.
Stripping wallpaper with a steamer
This is all pretty much common sense, but do make sure you read the instructions on your steamer carefully. Most steamers have a time limit for being switched on before they need time to cool down.
Just a few things to note:
- Don’t put anything except water in the steamer
- Don’t hold it in the same place too long, otherwise the plaster underneath can blow
- Work by steaming one area, then moving to the direct, next patch, and use your free hand to scrape the bit that’s just been steamed.
Even though all the paper is down, you still have work to do I’m afraid! There will be lots of gluey residue left over from the old paste – and it all needs to come off!
You can use more hot water and washing liquid/fabric conditioner and give it a good going over with a large scraper, or buy a purpose-made gel stripper. Once it’s all off, give it a final wash down in clean water and leave to dry.
It can take the best part of the weekend to strip wallpaper in a large room, or you can call us in and we’ll do it for you!