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What Is The Best Way To Remove Wallpaper Without Losing Sanity?

I know dense floral wallpaper in bathrooms was all the rage in the ‘80s, but 2022 won’t have any of this. The best time to remove it was ten years ago; the second-best time is now.

The process of removing wallpaper usually includes some frustration, hair pulling, and maybe a couple of brushes thrown at the wall. However, you don’t want to have new wallpaper and say goodbye to your sanity. So, what is the best way to remove wallpaper without losing sanity?

You can remove your wallpaper using only a putty knife if it’s adhesive. If you have peelable wallpaper, you’ll have to apply wallpaper stripper first, then work your way through the material.

I’ll tell you two different ways to remove it, but first, let’s go into the preparations.

Are All Wallpapers Removed the Same Way?

That’s a smart question, and the obvious answer is no. A peelable wallpaper won’t be removed the same way as a vinyl wallpaper. You have first to know what wallpaper you have and determine your way to go accordingly.

Here’s a rundown of the most common types and their removal methods:

Peelable Wallpaper

To know whether you have peelable wallpaper, try removing it from any corner using a knife. If the paper comes off, but there’s another layer underneath, it’s peelable.

The wallpaper has multiple layers, but that doesn’t mean it’s hard to remove. You’ll have to remove the outer layer manually, and the second one may need a solvent. In both cases, it shouldn’t be too hard if you’re patient enough.

Vinyl Wallpaper

Most traditional types of wallpaper were made of vinyl. Removing these is no walk in the park because they have a solid bonding between the layers. On top of that, most houses have sealing on the wallpaper, making your removal process even harder.

To remove vinyl wallpaper, you’ll have to use liquid remover and a putty knife.

Adhesive Wallpaper

Adhesive wallpaper is the most user-friendly type on this list. It easily peels away in one piece, so you can keep it for later use without the need to throw it. You likely won’t need any special equipment to remove adhesive wallpaper; only a knife will work well.

How About Walls?

So we’ve covered that not all wallpaper is removed the same, but what about walls? Some people have drywalls, and others have plaster walls. Are they all the same?


Drywalls aren’t supposed to get wet, so you can’t remove any wallpaper on them by soaking.

Additionally, they’re vulnerable, so you’ll have to be careful when pulling the wallpaper not to ruin the actual wall. They don’t crack like plaster does, which is why many people choose them.


Plaster is a bit more durable than drywall. It’s basically made up of wood and plaster coats. You can know the difference between both by knocking on them. Plaster will give you a dull sound, while drywall will make you feel as if knocking on a hollow wall.

Traditional Walls

Traditional walls have brick and concrete on the inside. These walls are hard to cover because of their porous surface, so they offer to require an extra layer of liner wallpaper. Of course, that makes it harder to remove wallpaper from them.

Preparing for Removing the Wallpaper

Before attempting to remove your wallpaper, there are a couple of steps to do first. For one, you’ll want to move any furniture away, especially if you have drywall. Drywall has a chalk-like substance that’ll scatter all over your sofas and chairs.

After emptying the room of furniture, grab some old linens and cover the floors. You don’t want to be stuck cleaning them when you’re done. It’s easier to cover them.

Lastly, make sure to cut the power off the room you’re working in. If you’re using a liquid spray, it’ll be risky to work around power outlets.

It’s also better to cover the power outlets to keep them clean while you’re working.

How to Remove Adhesive Wallpaper?

If you have adhesive wallpaper, your mission is easier than ever. All you need to remove them is a knife, some water, soap, and pieces of old clothes for cleaning.

Step 1: Cut at the Corners

Adhesive wallpaper should peel on its own, but only if you cut its corners first. Grab your knife and start pulling the corner gently, careful not to tear it apart. When you have a large piece out, leave the knife and start using your hands instead.

Using both hands, start pulling the paper off piece by piece. It should be removed smoothly, but sometimes, wallpapers refuse to collaborate.

In this case, you can tear it off and start at another corner.

Step 2: Scrape the Remnants Off

When you’re done removing the wallpaper, the adhesive material will leave remnants on the wall. Chances are, you won’t be able to remove them using your bare hands, and a putty knife may scratch it.

The right thing to do then is to scrape the wall off using some soap and water.

How to Remove Peelable Wallpaper?

Peelable wallpaper is a bit challenging to remove because it consists of multiple layers. It’ll take some time to finish, too, because stripper formulas should be applied bit by bit.

To remove it, you’ll need the following items:

  • Knife
  • Gloves for protection
  • Wall stripper formula
  • Scouring tool

Step 1: Peel the Top Layer

The first step in removing your peelable wallpaper is peeling the top layer off. It should come off quickly without the need for extra equipment. Start by removing the corner using your knife, and pull the rest off yourself.

Step 2(Optional): Use a Scoring Tool

Regularly, you should jump from the first step to the third one, which is applying the stripper formula. However, if your wallpaper is particularly sticky, and you suspect it won’t come out easily, you can always use a scoring tool first.

Keep rubbing the wall with it in round movements, then proceed to the next step.

Step 3: Prepare the Stripper Formula

Grab the wall stripper formula you have, and mix it with some hot water. You’ll find instructions on the bottle or the box for the water’s amount. Follow them, and put the mixture in a spray bottle.

Next, start applying the stripper formula. Bear in mind that you can’t apply it to the whole wall at once, so you’ll need to choose a small section of the wall and start with it. Then, you’ll move on to the rest of the wall.

You can move in 3×3 feet squares, depending on the size of your room.

Step 4: Remove the Wallpaper

After the stripper formula sits in, start removing the squares using your knife. You should remove them firmly enough but gently not to dig into the wall. If your knife is causing wrist aches, you can choose any other scraping tool and work with it instead.

The Takeaway

Removing wallpaper shouldn’t be too hard. In most cases, you’ll encounter a couple of stubborn bits, but you’ll be able to get them out eventually. Remember to be patient; some walls have been up for 50+ years, so removing their paper won’t be a blink of an eye.


  • Jason

    Jason is an expert writer and is passionate about Smart Homes and Home Improvements writing as well as lifestyle and Lawn Care. He spent the past twelve years living in Hawaii, where he worked closely alongside event planners and resort owners to perfect his knowledge of luxury products and aesthetics. He discovered his passion for DIY projects and home improvement there. Currently, he lives in Washington D.C with his family and 2 pets.

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