They say that when you are going to decorate your home preparation is everything. Well I will have to agree with that. Take for example wallpapering. If you do not remove all of the old and worn wallpaper or border, the finished result will not be good.

For many reasons, years ago, people would wallpaper on top of old wallpaper. This was often partially done to add layers to the wall and so help keep a room warm. With modern central heating, this is no longer necessary. Also modern papers are made from so many different materials that over wall papering is not really practical.

Removing old wallpaper and borders can be very time consuming and an absolute drag but it does not have to be. Here are a few tips that I have learned the hard way in over 37 years of decorating.

Things You Will Need

Ideally a wall paper stripper. This is a steam machine.

A sharp knive.

A scraper.


Old cloths or rags.

Dust sheets

Bin Bags

Protective gloves.

Perhaps overalls, in order to protect your clothing.

You can also use paint rollers or brushes to soak the old wallpaper if preferred.

Step 1

You will need to ensure that the carpet or flooring is well covered. It would be better to move the carpet but this is not always pratical.

Make sure that you cover the floor and any furniture before you start, in order to prevent water or steam damage.

Step 2

Open the windows if possible. The atmosphere can get very steamy when you are stripping wallpaper and you will need to allow plenty of fresh air into the area. There can be smells from the old paste also.

Step 3

If you are using only time and energy, to remove the wallpaper, try using a sharp knife or knives to score the paper. Scratch across the paper's surface with criss cross lines.

Step 4

Use slightly soapy, warm water and old rags to soak a section of the wallpaper or border.

Step 5

Let the liquid soak thoroughly into the paper for a couple of minutes and then you will be able to peel and scrape the paper away.

Step 6

Some modern wallpapers have a shiny surface or a separate backing and so this may affect the time taken to remove it properly. It is labour intensive but if you let the water soak in enough, it will shorten the time and effort needed.

Step 7

If you can afford it, invest in a steam wallpaper stripper. These often are fairly cheap and work like a dream. You simply fill the container with hot water, plug the steamer into your electricity supply and wait a little while for the steam to get going. The paper is removed as already explained above. However the steam means that the paper is removed much more quickly and effectively.

Step 8

Personally I find that, keeping on top of clearing the old wallpaper removed, as an ongoing task, is the most sensible option. If you do not the wet, slimey, old paper can cause a mess and be hard to pick up.

How you choose to remove your wallpaper is up too you.

If you have lots of wallpaper to remove a steamer will be the best option. If the paper has been hung properly in the past it may not easily peel away.

Assess your decorating needs and work accordingly. In the case of hanging wallpaper I'm afraid the devil's in the detail and the planning. However, if you have effectively removed ALL of the old paper you should be off to a flying start.

Tips & Warnings

Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for equipment such as wallpaper steamers.

Be careful that you do not receive burns from the steam.

Cover you, your clothes and your home where necessary or you may find items are permanently damaged.

Work in a well ventilated area.