Old wallpaper can make your house look just a little depressing. But with our help, you can easily remove wallpaper with a steamer and install new wallpaper or repaint your walls with a brand new color.
I’m going to show you how to remove wallpaper with steam in a few simple steps.
There are two ways of removing wallpaper: using a solvent or a steamer. When using a steamer, you place and move the steaming pad over the wallpaper long enough to loosen the glue. Once the glue is weakened, use a putty knife to scrape the paper off the wall.
If you do not want to use steam, you can use a commercial solvent for the job. I have also explained this method here.
Steps for Removing Wallpaper with a Steamer
Steamers emit hot water vapor that soaks into the wallpaper to loosen the glue.
This method is particularly very effective on thick wallpapers. It will also work best for papers that have been attached to the wall for a very long time.
So, if you’re ready with your steamer, here’s how to remove old wallpaper using steam:
1. Clear the wall and protect the floor
Remove anything you may have attached to the wall such as picture frames and paintings. Also, clear the floor and cover it with a drop cloth or plastic sheets to prevent damage to your carpet or floor.
Cover any electric fittings, switches, and sockets with electric tape. This will protect them from water (steam). There’ll be a lot of steam in the room when removing wallpaper with a steamer.
2. Perforate the wallpaper
Poke small holes into the wallpaper to allow steam to penetrate through it. You can do it with a paper tiger. Do not use too much force when perforating to prevent perforating the surface of your wall. Drywall, in particular, can get ugly marks if you use too much force.
3. Apply steam using a wallpaper steamer
Place the steaming pad of your steamer on the wallpaper to allow steam to penetrate and loosen the glue. Hold the pad in place long enough to make it easier to scrape off the paper afterward.
4. Scrape off the old wallpaper with a putty knife
Use a putty knife or a specialized scraping tool to remove the wallpaper. A drywall knife will also come in handy if you don’t have a putty knife.
If the paper still sticks onto the wall, apply the steamer once more to loosen the glue. Scrape thereafter.
5. Clean up the wall
Clean the wall with warm water and a soft sponge. This will remove glue residue and traces of wallpaper. Your wall will remain clean and ready for repainting or a new wallpaper installation.
6. Clean up the room to remove the mess
Congratulations, you’re done using a steamer to remove wallpaper. Now it’s time to clean up the mess that the steam and torn wallpaper have created on the floor.
What Steamer to Use?
There are quite a few choices on the market for peeling wallpapers off your wall.
If the area you are working on is small, you can use a fabric steamer or a multipurpose handheld steam cleaner or mop.
But if you need to work on a large surface, you can rent or buy a professional wallpaper steamer. A good one I would recommend is the Wagner Spraytech 0282036 715 Power Steamer. It does not come with any additional attachments so it has only one use.
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If you want a steamer that can do more than peel off wallpapers, go for the multipurpose one. The Wagner 915 On-Demand Steamer is a little expensive but comes with plenty of attachments. You can use it for other cleaning tasks.
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Alternative Method: Using Solvent
Other than steaming, there are a few other methods you can try at home. Solvent is just one of them. Fabric softener and vinegar can also get rid of old wallpaper from walls and ceilings.
Here, we’ll focus on using a solvent to peel off wallpaper from walls. Before you begin, ensure you wear rubber gloves for protection. Commercial solvents work through chemical action that can cause burns to your hands and can be harmful. We don’t recommend them because of this.
If you’re ready, here’s how to remove wallpaper using a solvent as an alternative to steam.
- Prep the wall or ceiling by removing anything attached to it.
- Apply the solvent onto the wallpaper using a paintbrush. Use a soft sponge if a paintbrush isn’t readily available.
- Leave the solvent for about 30 minutes (or as directed on the label) to dissolve the paper and the glue.
- Scrape the wallpaper off the wall/ceiling as soon as you see it sagging or loosening.
- Clean up any left-over wallpaper from the wall using warm water and a sponge.
Remember, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using a solvent. Some may need mixing with water while others come ready for use.
Can you use an iron or fabric steamer to steam off wallpaper?
Yes, if the area you are working on is small, a fabric steamer will do the job for you. It will be tedious and ineffective if you use it on large surfaces.
How long does it take to steam wallpaper?
Thicker wallpapers will take a long time to remove while thin ones will take a short time. With a good steamer, 20-30 minutes are enough to loosen the glue and make peeling or scraping off easy.