Becoming a first-time buyer is a rite of passage. It’s an experience filled with joy, relief, and anticipation. But if it’s a property that’s time-worn, this new, exciting chapter of your life can quickly become arduous where redecorating is concerned.
Perhaps you’ve got a spare room that needs a fresh lick of paint or an entire house that’s a tad too retro for your tastes. Whatever the project, there’s a good chance wallpaper crops up along the way. And as the saying goes, what goes up must come down!
Papering or painting a stripped wall gives you a lovely bubble-free finish that’s both smoother and easier to execute. It also typically lasts longer. So, what’s the best way to remove wallpaper without tearing your hair out in the process? In this article, we’ll take a whistle-stop tour of steamers, stripping, and removal solutions, offering up a hatful of wallpaper removal tips.
Wallpaper removal preparation
While it’s all too tempting to start tearing down that garish 1970s wallpaper hanging in your front room, you first need to make sure the area is safe.
Believe it or not, around 48,000 people a year end up in A&E because of avoidable home ladder accidents. So, with that in mind, please carefully run through the following safety precautions before moving on to our wallpaper removal tips:
- Use dust sheets to cover any exposed areas. Stripping wallpaper gets messy fast, and you won’t want old glue sticking to your floor.
- Put masking tape around any nearby electrical sockets to avoid dripping water on live wires. It’s also best to turn the power off at the mains.
- Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from debris, falling paper, and hot water.
- Find a ladder that’s suitable for your wall and space. For instance, if you’re stripping paper from a stairwell, an articulated ladder will offer increased stability thanks to its several locking hinges.
- Ensure chemicals and adhesives are carefully stowed away and out of reach from anyone entering the room. We also recommend wearing thick, protective gloves.
Find out what wallpaper is present
The key to quickly removing wallpaper is first to assess the room. Which method you use will depend on several factors, including what material your walls consist of and how easily the paper peels away. Therefore, you should start by using a putty knife to gently loosen a corner of the paper before slowly peeling it back; if you tear it straight off, it could damage the wall.
If it comes away from the wall easily, then you have strippable wallpaper—an easier material to remove. Likewise, if a paper backing is left on the wall when you strip away the pieces, you’re probably dealing with peelable wallpaper.
The most enduring wallpaper to remove is the traditional type, which doesn’t budge a millimetre when tested with a dry putty knife. In these instances, you’ll need a chemical stripper, but more on that shortly.
Drywall or plaster?