Serving Somerset County
Hunterdon County

(908) 837-9066
Hillsborough NJ


Small Handyman Jobs
Complete Remodeling Services
Affordable Pricing
State Licensed & Fully Insured

Lic # 13VH01719900

Home Remodeling - Improvements - Maintenance & Repairs


WALLPAPER REMOVAL - I make it no secret that wallpaper removal makes the top of my list in horrible jobs that must be done to improve a home. I don't think any sane person can actually say that they enjoy removing wallpaper.

I've removed my share of wallpaper in renovation projects. The worst job I can recall was removing paper for a kitchen remodel. I I began to remove the paper with a steamer. It was after about 3 square feet that I noticed another seam, with paint over it. Previous owners had painted over a layer of wallpaper and then somebody got the idea to put new wallpaper over that layer of paint. The top paper wasn't coming off easy. The second layer of paper that was painted over was going to be a nightmare. After discussing it with the customer, the decision was made to re-sheetrock the kitchen. It actually turned out to be more economical than trying to remove the layers and then repair all the drywall afterward.

Let's assume you have the normal wallpapered room and you want to remove it. Maybe the person that put it up sized the room prior, maybe not. I don't use chemicals for the removal process. If possible I pull off the top finished layer of paper, leaving the paper backing behind. I then attack that layer using the weapons below. If the top finished layer doesn't come off, the weapons are still the same but with a little more work and time involved.

Here's my weapons of choice:

Scoring Tool: You can use this whether the top layer of paper came off or not. This tool has rotating teeth and spin randomly, making holes in the wallpaper. This allows water and/or steam to penetrate the finished layer of paper or the base paper. Just go crazy with it and make as many holes as you want. Enjoy it because this is the easiest part of the job!

Here's A TIP... Don't press too hard. You'll actually make holes in your sheetrock with it. Just press enough to score the paper. If you make some holes though, don't worry. You'll be spackling the walls after you're finished removing the paper and glue.

SPRAY BOTTLE AND STEAMER: You can buy one of these for a very reasonable price of 40 to 60 bucks. It's well worth it and won't put you under pressure to get it done as if you were to rent one at a daily rate. I have one in my pile of tools as shown on the left. It's pretty good for the price tag and has now lasted about 4-5 years.

Prior to steaming, I like to apply a nice amount of water to the paper using a spray bottle. This helps to dampen the paper and actually speeds up the steaming process. Allow the steamer to work in one spot and then gently slide your 5-6" putty knife along the wet, steamed paper. It should come right off. Move the steamer over and repeat the process. Then do it another several hundred times and you're done!

Here's A TIP... Don't hold the steamer in one place any longer than you have to. The steam can cause the paper of the sheetrock itself to come off when you run your putty knife on it. As you go, you'll get the hang of how long you have to keep the steamer on the wallpaper. If you do scrape the paper off the sheetrock, you can spackle if after it dries out.

RAGS: This is important so read it twice. After you remove the wallpaper, there is going to be a paste residue. You have to remove all of this. It will affect how the wall looks after painting and more importantly, it may cause the paint to crackle in the future.

Take your rag and soak it with hot water. Filling a 5 gallon bucket of water is a nice way to do it. Wipe down the wall and wring out your rag. Your rag should almost be dripping with water. Take your putty knife and run it along the wall. See if you get a gooey (for the lack of a better word) paste on your knife. If you wall is properly cleaned, only water should be dripping off of your putty knife. You have to remove all the residual paste. You have to. Did I bring across the importance of this step?

SPACKLE AND PRIMER: Before you paint, you must prepare the walls. Any imperfections or missing sheetrock paper must be filled in and sanded to a final finish. No, paint will not fill the cracks. The more time and effort you put into making the walls smooth, the better the finished product. After you've removed all the paste, spackled and sanded, you can now primer/seal the surface.

I always like to check after primering for any missed imperfections and hit them again with spackling. By the way, latex sealer/primer is okay to use. Sealers actually take some time to cure. Even though they're dry to the touch, they can take a few days to cure.

Hopefully this has proven helpful. The technique for removing wallpaper can vary, depending on the paper and conditions. This information is based on my experiences over many years and how I've successfully tackled wallpaper removal. The products you see on this page are sold at your major home improvement centers. I do not necessarily endorse these particular products. They're there only for visual appeal. I assume no responsibility for your decision to undertake a wallpaper removal project. If you do not feel comfortable, hire a professional like myself.

(908) 837-9066
Hillsborough NJ - Somerset County


Site Map