Removing Wallpaper From Drywall

A blue and white tropical wallpaper.
  • 3-12 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-150
What You'll Need
Drop cloth or plastic sheeting
Scoring tool
Chemical remover
Spray bottle
Paint brush
Putty knife
Wallpaper steamer (optional)
Large sponge

While removing wallpaper from drywall isn't always the most interesting or easiest DIY project, it's one most people should be able to do themselves. Here's a basic tutorial to make removing wallpaper from drywall as painless as possible.

Step 1 - Prepare the Room

Before you start to remove the actual wallpaper, make sure you remove all artwork, curtains, and outlet covers. Clear the wall of any decoration or hardware that will interfere with the process. Empty the room of furniture, or at least push it away from the walls. Once that's done, cover the floor and any furniture in the middle of the room with plastic or drop cloth to protect it.

Some wallpaper will come off easily, but since you're trying to remove it from drywall, it's important to note here that you should not try to pull it right off the wall without scoring it and then applying remover. If you don't follow these two important steps, the wall underneath can become damaged.

Step 2 - Score the Wallpaper

Once you've prepared the room by covering the floor and remaining furniture with plastic, begin removing the wallpaper by first using a scoring tool to perforate the paper. Using a scoring tool is helpful because it will create little holes that allow the liquid wallpaper remover to go through the wallpaper and actually reach the glue.

Don't be overwhelmed by the size of the room. Instead, focus on one small section at a time, working your way across each wall.

Step 3 - Apply the Remover

A spay bottle and putty knife against a wallpapered wall.

The best way to apply remover solution is to fill a sprayer with equal amounts of a liquid remover and hot water. In fact, it might be best to even use boiled water from a kettle—just be careful not to burn yourself.

Once your remover solution is mixed, spray the wallpaper from top to bottom, making sure you don't wet it too much. You don't want to soak the drywall underneath. You can use a paint brush to sweep the solution up into corners and along the edges to ensure the surface is thoroughly covered.

Step 4 - Remove the Wallpaper

A woman removing wallpaper from a wall with a steamer.

Wait for about 15 minutes for the remover solution to soak in before you start to remove the wallpaper. You'll know it's working when the wallpaper starts to bubble. When it does, start to remove the paper.

Use a wide putty knife to scrape the wallpaper off to make this part easier on yourself. It can be a lot more difficult if the wallpaper is really old or if there are multiple layers of wallpaper, so don't be afraid to spray more remover, wait another 15 minutes, and try to remove it again.

If it's really giving you a hard time, you might want to consider renting a wallpaper steamer. A wallpaper steamer might cost $50 and can save you from causing added damage to your walls.

Wallpaper steamers are pretty easy to use. Just fill it with water, let it warm up, and then get to work. Start at the top of the wall and work your way down, holding the hotplate up on the wall until the wallpaper gets soft. Once it's soft, start to scrape away at it immediately before moving to the next area.

Step 5 - Finish Up

Once you've scraped off the wallpaper, you can go around with a large wet sponge to wipe down the walls and clean off any residue left behind. Then, go over the walls with the sponge one more time to make sure they're really clean before you declare your job done.

You will want to leave the walls at least two or three days to dry before you move onto any other steps such as painting or applying new wallpaper.