Wallpaper can be stunningly beautiful or stunningly awful. If you just can’t live another day with those platter-sized chartreuse green smiley faces that adorn your bedroom, you can relax because wallpaper can be removed. Depending on the type of wallpaper you’re planning to remove, it can involve some serious elbow grease, but this DIY project isn’t all that hard when you follow Great Guys Painting’s 6 simple steps.

1. Identify the Type of Walls Under the Wallpaper 


If your home was built within the last 50 or 60 years, the walls are likely drywall. If you knock on the wall between the studs and hear a hollow sound, the walls are probably drywall. The drywall surface consists of a heavy cardboard so you’ll have to be careful not to scrape off the cardboard finish when you’re removing the wallpaper. Also, drywall can be damaged if it gets too wet.


Homes that are older than 50 or 60 years will likely have plaster walls.Plaster walls are more solid than drywall. When you knock on a plaster wall, you’ll hear a dull, solid sound. 

2. Identify the Type of Wallpaper You’ll be Removing

It’s important to identify the type of wallpaper you’ll be removing because the removal method is slightly different for each type.


You’re in luck if your wallpaper is fairly new because chances are it’s strippable. 

  • The easiest of all wallpapers to take down, these papers can be easily removed without chemicals, steam, or water. 
  • At a bottom corner or seam, pry away the edge of the wallpaper with a putty knife. If it pulls away without much effort and keeps releasing as you pull it, it’s very likely that you have strippable paper.


Many vinyl wallpapers are peelable. 

  • The top layer easily pulls off like strippable paper, but you’ll notice the backing stays put. 
  • The backing layer will need to be removed using the same methods as with traditional wallpaper.

Traditional Wallpaper 

Some wallpapers are meant to stay in place over a long time and stick like glue. With this type of wallpaper, you’ll need to use a liquid stripper mixed in water.

3. Gather Your Tools and Materials

You’ll save time and effort in the long run if you have all of your tools and materials ready before you begin. Nothing is more frustrating than having to run out to the hardware store in the middle of your project.

  • Tools: Whichever type of wallpaper you’ll be removing, you’ll need a ladder, drop cloths or plastic sheeting, rubber gloves, a bucket, plastic spray bottle, clean rags, a large sponge, a putty knife, and a paint scraper.
  • Materials: You’ll need different materials for the different types of wallpaper.
    • For strippable paper: hot water and liquid soap. 
    • For peelable wallpaper: hot water, liquid wallpaper stripper, and liquid soap.
    • For traditional wallpaper: hot water, liquid wallpaper stripper, and liquid soap.
  • Tip: For faster clean-up, if you protect the floors close to the walls with plastic sheeting, you can just let the removed wallpaper and paste residue drop to the sheeting. Once all wallpaper is removed, wrap up the sheeting with the wallpaper and paste inside and put it in the trash.  

4. Prepare the Room

  • Remove Everything From the Walls: All artwork, drapes, rods, nails, and hanging devices, etc. must be removed before you start taking down the wallpaper.
  • Move Furniture: It will be far easier to work, and your furniture will be protected when you move it into the center of the room.
  • Area Rugs:  Roll rugs away from the walls.
  • Cover: Cover your furniture and protect wall-to-wall carpeting and flooring with drop cloths or plastic sheeting.
  • Electricity: Water will be involved in removing the wallpaper, or at least washing the walls. Make sure to cover outlets and light switches with painters tape.

5. Remove the Wallpaper

The method you use to remove the wallpaper will depend on the type of wallpaper you have. 

Strippable Wallpaper

Start at the bottom near a seam, and pull the paper slowly away from the wall. 

  • Work slowly and continue to loosen the paper along the baseboard. 
  • As you work upward, continue to pull the paper away from the wall.

Peelable Wallpaper

Pull the top layer off, using the same methods as with the strippable wallpaper. 

  • Once the top layer is completely removed, you’ll need to remove the backing. 
  • Use the same methods as for traditional wallpaper removal.

Traditional Wallpaper

  • Mix liquid stripper concentrate in hot water according to the label’s directions and pour it into your plastic spray bottle.
  • Spray the mixture to the wallpaper, working from the top to the bottom, and only one section at a time. 
  • Let the mixture soak into the paper for a few minutes. 
  • Start scraping with a putty knife or paint scraper. You want the section to stay moist while you’re working. If your walls are drywall, be careful not to dig into the walls when you scrape. 

Extra-Stubborn Wallpaper

Even after allowing the liquid stripper to soak in, if the wallpaper just doesn’t want to budge, you may need to steam it loose. A wallpaper steamer will soften the glue that’s between the wall and the wallpaper. 

6. Clean the Walls

Wallpaper paste leaves a residue on the walls that must be removed.

Paste Left from Strippable Wallpapers

  • If there isn’t a lot of paste residue left behind once you’ve stripped off the wallpaper, you can probably remove the paste using a sponge with a little liquid soap mixed in a bucket of hot water.
  • Rinse the wall with clean water. Cleaning will go faster if you frequently change the rinse water. 
  • As you move from section to section, dry each section of the wall with clean rags. 

Paste Left from Peelable and Traditional Wallpapers

Usually peelable and traditional papers leave more paste residue.

  • If there’s a lot of paste left behind on the walls, the easiest way to remove it is with a mixture of liquid wallpaper stripper. 
  • Mix the stripper with hot water according to the label’s directions and pour it into a plastic spray bottle. 
  • Spray the mixture on the wall, one section at a time, and let it sit for about 20 minutes. 
  • Once the stripper loosens the paste, you can use a paint scraper to remove the residue. 
  • Then rinse the walls with a sponge and bucket of hot water. 
  • Continue to change the rinse water frequently. 
  • Then dry the walls, section by section, with a clean rag. 

If these 6 simple steps for removing wallpaper seem like a drag, or DIY projects aren’t your cup of tea, Great Guys Painting can quickly help you find a reputable wallpaper removing pro.

At Great Guys Painting, we have a trustworthy network of licensed and insured wallpaper removers near you. An experienced wallpaper remover has the tools and materials at the ready. In a fraction of the time it would take to complete this DIY job, an experienced wallpaper remover can have your wallpaper completely removed so your walls look like new. Then you can go right ahead with your decorating dream, whether it will be fresh new paint or a fabulous new wallpaper.


Can’t face the task of removing old wallpaper on your own? Great Guys Painting to the rescue! We’ll connect you with trusted and experienced wallpaper removers near you. Get a fast free quote now!