How to Remove Wallpaper That's Been Painted Over

  • 2-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 230-260
What You'll Need
Plastic sheet
Step stool
Paper scorer
Wallpaper steamer
Baking pan
Rubber gloves
Warm water
Soft bristle brush

It can be quite a task when you have to remove wallpaper that’s been painted over. Although initially attractive, with time wallpaper tends to peel which gives the room an untidy appearance. To strip the wallpaper takes much time and effort. The tedious job involved may tempt you to simply prime and paint the wall. However, once the wallpaper is properly removed, it allows you to redecorate the room with ease and also assures you of good results. The guide below shows you how to proceed.

Step 1 – Lay out Plastic Sheet

Spread a large sheet of plastic on the floor beneath the wall you intend to work on. It will collect the scraped off wallpaper as it falls and make it easier to clean up when you’re done.

Step 2 – Score the Paint

Use a paper scorer to penetrate the coat of paint on the wallpaper. The scorer has several small pins attached to wheels. As you roll it over the painted wallpaper, the pins puncture the coat of paint which makes it easier to remove the wallpaper. It is best to work in small sections for a more effective job.

Step 3 – Steam and Scrape

You can buy or rent a steamer from a home improvement or hardware store. It is a better alternative to a chemical wallpaper stripper, especially if you have green concerns. Place the steamer hotplate on an area of the wallpaper to moisturize the paper. It is best to begin at the top, work your way across and move downwards. Once the wallpaper becomes softened by steam, pry off the loosened wallpaper with a scrapper. Place a baking pan nearby so that you can rest the steamer hotplate when not in use. Move the hotplate to work on another area. Work in small sections and try to steam as much of the wallpaper area as you can. This will make it easier to scrape away the paper.

Step 4 – Wash the Walls

It is best to wash the walls once you’ve stripped away all the wallpaper. A clean surface is vital for the success of any additional work you intend to undertake on the walls. Use a detergent and warm water to clean the walls. It helps if you scrub away dirt with a soft bristle brush. Rinse the wall and allow it to dry completely.

Step 5 – Remove Plastic Sheet

Gather the plastic sheet with peeled off wallpaper and dispose of appropriately. Mop the floor to clear away any dirt that may have escaped onto the floor. If it is a carpeted room, you can use a vacuum.


  • Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from possible scratches as you work. You should also wear a long sleeved shirt to protect your arms from burns that may be caused by hot water drips from the steamer.
  • Be careful not to mar the walls as you scrape off the softened wallpaper. Too much pressure can damage the wall underneath.