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Best Way to Remove Wallpaper

The best way to remove wallpaper without chemicals is steam.

We bought a Wagner steamer about 7 years ago to remove butt ugly wallpaper.

After a few days of work, my wife declared the steamer was her favorite tool ever!!

Yes, it works that well.

You might have a different opinion on what works for wallpaper removal.

After reading this post and watching my video please add your 2 cents to the comments, but I think you’ll be impressed with my methods 🙂


Supply List for Wallpaper Removal

Here’s your supply list

Let’s get started and I’ll show you why my wife loved this method so much.


Make wallpaper removal easy

The first step you should take is to peel sections of wallpaper off the wall.

Pry up a corner with a putty knife and pull off as much of the top vinyl layer as possible.

Peel off top layer

This leaves behind a soft paper that is turned to mush by the steamer.

If you have a super resistant wallpaper and the vinyl layer won’t come off you can score it.

Score remaining top layer

I used a tool called a Paper Tiger wallpaper scoring tool. Move the Paper Tiger over your wall in circular patterns.

It will create small holes in your wallpaper and allow the steam to fully penetrate.

Unfortunately, the Paper Tiger can put small holes in your drywall, too.

You may want to test a small section of your wall with and without using the Paper Tiger. Then you can get a feel for how it affects your drywall.

Now you’re ready for the steaming part, oh yeah!

Give your wallpaper the spa treatment with steam

Lay down a drop cloth on your floor directly below the wall you’ll be working on.

Place drop cloth on floor

Drop cloths will protect your carpet, hardwood, or tile from getting wet during the steaming process.

And yes, that is a sock in the wall drain 🙂 (it keeps sewer gas from entering the house while the sink is removed,  I knew there was a reason to keep old socks)

Also, it’s much better to have the sticky wallpaper land on the drop cloth versus your flooring, trust me on this one.

The specific steamer we use to remove wallpaper is the Wagner Power Steamer model 705.

Use wagner power steamer

As I said, it’s probably the best $49 you’ll spend on wallpaper removal supplies.

I checked Amazon and you can still buy this steamer for $49. Plus, it has over 200 reviews that average out to 4.5 stars out of 5.

Obviously, a lot of people think this is a great tool 😀

Plug the steamer into a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) because you are working with water. This little tip protects you from unnecessary shocks that could occur.

Plug steamer into GFCI

Add water to the steamer and allow it to heat up to the point where the steam comes out of the attachment.

Place the steamer onto the wallpaper and allow it to sit for 10-15 seconds.

Place steamer on wallpaper

Then use a 6-inch joint compound knife to scrape off the wallpaper.

Scrape soft wallpaper

Once you get used to the steamer you can scrape with one hand while steaming with the other.

Try to scrape as much of the glue off the wall as possible. Otherwise, it will show through your new paint job.

Use your 6-inch knife to scrape the glue off while it’s still soft.

Make sure you have paper towels because you’ll need them to wipe the old glue off your knife.

Here’s a friendly reminder: STEAM CAN BURN YOUR SKIN.

Please be careful when using a steamer because you don’t want to hurt yourself or someone else. Overall, steamers are very safe to use.

Additional tips to make your life easier after wallpaper removal

Here’s Tip #1: pick up the old wallpaper while it’s still damp and throw it into a garbage bag.

Throw away damp paper

This prevents the wallpaper from sticking to your drop cloth, baseboards, or floor. Keep in mind that the paper still has glue on it and will be sticky.

Thus, it’s a good policy to remove the wallpaper from a small section of your wall then swiftly place it into your garbage bag.

You’ll also cut down on the chance of stepping on a piece of tacky old wallpaper and tracking it into a different room.

Your wall will have a gunky glue residue on it after all the wallpaper is removed.

Here’s Tip #2: use 1 gallon of warm water with 1 teaspoon of Dawn liquid soap along with a grout sponge to clean off this old residue.

Wash off glue residue

I like using grout sponges that have both a soft side and a rough side.

Dunk your sponge into the water, ring it out and scrub down your wall.

You’ll remove all the chunks of glue. Not all the glue residue will be removed but at least you’ll have a much smoother surface than at the beginning of this cleaning process.

Use a circular motion to do this.

Check out my video to see exactly what I did to remove a small section of wallpaper. I make reference to two, yes two, famous movie characters who believe it or not can help you stay safe and be efficient with your wallpaper removal project 🙂

What’s Next

Our tutorial that discusses how to paint a bathroom fast is great – don’t miss it!

If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and need help, join one of our online courses – they’ll make your bathroom renovation much easier!

Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.

Thanks as always for reading, watching, and being part of our awesome community.



How to Remove Wallpaper