How to Remove Wallpaper Without a Steamer

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Are you looking for a quick and easy way to remove wallpaper before redecorating? Sorry to burst your bubble but there isn’t one! Every method I know is messy and takes forever.

With that said, there is one method that outshines the rest – using an electric steamer. Check out this guide (how to use a steamer to remove wallpaper) if you want to know more. These things make removing wallpaper easier, but keep reading if you don’t have one or prefer removing wallpaper manually.

What tools and equipment do you need for removing wallpaper?

  • Wallpaper scraper or putty knife – start with a wide one but have a narrower one handy too
  • Step ladder
  • Water, rags and a bowl
  • Dust sheets for covering the floor and/or furniture
  • Gloves (optional)
  • Large bin liners

How to prepare a room before removing wallpaper

Before you do anything – clear the room as best you can or cover your furniture with dust sheets, old bed sheets or whatever works for you. 

Take down pictures, photos and anything else hanging on the walls. Put them all in a safe place, preferably in another room (especially the telly). Your room will get very messy once you start wetting the walls, so you’ll have to hide stuff under sheets for protection, which makes them more prone to accidents.

Check the walls for nails, screws and anything else standing proud of the surface – remove them if you can.

How to remove wallpaper without a steamer

Depending on the size of your room, you might want to do one wall at a time.

The idea here is to combine equal parts boiling water and vinegar in a bowl, bucket or spray bottle, then apply the mix to the wall. The hot wallpaper loosens the wallpaper paste and the vinegar helps it dissolve. Once you’ve done that, leave it to soak for 5-10 minutes before removing the wallpaper with your scraper.

If you’re using the bucket or bowl method and hot/boiling water, use a sponge to apply the water and wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.

Once you’ve removed all the main pieces of wallpaper, you’ll need to go back over the walls to remove the smaller bits. A lot of these will be tricky to see. Use your scraper to find and remove them.

If you wait for the wall and leftover pieces of paper to dry out, you might be able to use a stiff-ish brush to remove them.

The key to great decorating is thorough preparation so don’t skimp on the final checks. Be sure to go over every surface several times to make sure all the pieces of wallpaper are removed.

Once you’re happy everything is in order, you can start the next stage, which will either be fixing cracks and marks in the plaster, rewallpapering or painting the walls and ceilings.

How to remove wallpaper without wetting it (try this before you start)

Have a look around the room at the current state of the wallpaper. Are there any loose pieces you can easily remove without wetting the wallpaper? If so, go ahead and do that. Remove as much as you can using this method.

If there aren’t any obvious places to start, try the bottom corner of any piece you like. Get your thinner scraper under the corner and try to remove some paper from the wall to give you a bit of leeway. 

Corners are often a good place to start because they tend to hold the least amount of paste. 

Once you’ve freed one corner, try the other one on the same strip. When they’re both free, grab each corner and try to pull the entire strip off the wall. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn’t. It’s definitely worth trying as you could save yourself a ton of time and effort.

What often happens when you do this you pull off the top layer of the wallpaper while the backing remains attached to the wall. This isn’t perfect, but it does make it easier to remove later on.

Put all the paper into the large bin liners as you go. 

Once you’ve removed as much wallpaper as you can using this dry method, it’s time to start getting serious. Put the kettle on!

Yes, it’s time for a brew but you’re going to need hot water for the next stage (see above!).