The Best Way to Remove Wallpaper Without Losing Your Sanity

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Removing old, outdated wallpaper can be a tedious and frustrating task. The paste clinging to the wall, the hours of scraping, the bits of paper tearing everywhere – it’s enough to make anyone go a little crazy. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right tools, techniques, and patience, you can strip wallpaper efficiently and (mostly) painlessly. Here’s at Land of Wallpaper, learn how to remove wallpaper from every type of wall without losing your mind.

Five Easy Steps to Remove Wallpaper Without Losing Your Sanity

1- Prep Your Workspace

The first step in keeping calm during a wallpaper removal project is prepping your workspace. Clear the room of furniture and roll up any rugs. Use a drop cloth to protect the floor from the inevitable debris. Have a step stool handy for reaching higher portions of the wall. Make sure the room is well-ventilated and wear a mask to avoid breathing in old paste or paper particles. Gather all your supplies in advance so they’re close at hand when needed.

2- Use a Wallpaper Removal Solution

Trying to scrape off wallpaper dry can be tedious and time-consuming. Using a store-bought wallpaper remover solution helps soften and separate the layers so you can remove the paper easier and faster. There are a few types to choose from:

  • Wallpaper remover solution: This is soaked into the paper with a spray bottle and allowed to penetrate for 5-20 minutes. It helps wet the adhesive for easier scraping.
  • Wallpaper remover gel: The gel formula is rolled on and also works to dissolve the paste. It tends to cling better to vertical surfaces without running down.
  • Steamers: A steamer heats water to produce steam that softens wallpaper. Though effective, buying or renting a unit is an added expense to consider.

Apply remover evenly across wallpapered surfaces and let it sit for the recommended time before starting removal. Reapply as needed during the stripping process.

3- Use the Right Tools

Having the correct wallpaper removal tools for the job makes the process much more manageable. Equip yourself with:

  • Perforation tool: This tool punches tiny holes in the wallpaper surface so solutions can better penetrate and soak the backing.
  • Scraper: Opt for a long-handled scraper with a sharp 6” blade. Hold it at a low 30-degree angle to avoid gouging drywall.
  • Putty knife: For wet removal in corners and along trim, a flexible putty knife is handy.
  • Wallpaper stripping discs: Attach these abrasive discs to a drill to grind off paper backing without damaging drywall. Great for stubborn areas!
  • Sponge: Use a large sponge to soak and catch water running down walls and clean up excess remover gel.

4- Remove Wallpaper by Type

There are a few common types of wallpaper that each have a slightly different removal method. Here’s how to strip them effectively:

Peelable Wallpaper

Modern peelable wallpaper is intended to come off clean with little adhesive left behind. Simply peel up one corner and slowly rip down, ensuring the backing doesn’t tear off and leave paste residue on the walls. Reapply remover solution under the edges if they feel tacky or hard to lift.

Pre-Pasted Wallpaper

Pre-pasted wallpaper has dry adhesive on one side that is activated by water when installed. Start removal by scoring the surface with a perforation tool then spraying remover evenly across. Allow the solution to soak in 5-10 minutes. Use a scraper to gently lift one section – pulling too hard can remove the backing and leave the paste on the wall. Follow with a steaming if needed to dissolve any remaining adhesive.

Non-Pasted Wallpaper

For traditional wallpaper without pre-applied adhesive, soak the surface with a remover solution first. Give 10-15 minutes to penetrate layers. Use steady downward pressure with a sharp scraper tilted at a 30-degree angle to strip off. Rewet and scrape again to ensure you remove all residual pastedown to the drywall layer.

5- Maintain Your Sanity and Pace Yourself

Here are some key tips for staying calm and not rushing through the tedium of wallpaper removal:

  • Work in small sections: Don’t bite off more than you can chew! Removing paper from just a 3ft x 3ft area at a time allows you to focus.
  • Take breaks: Step away periodically to rest hands and eyeballs. Go for a short walk or listen to motivating music.
  • Recruit a helper: Having someone assist with soaking, scraping corners, or catching debris makes the process more efficient.
  • Hydrate and stretch: Drink enough water and take mini stretch breaks to reduce body fatigue.
  • Reward progress: Celebrate each wall section completion by crossing it off your checklist or indulging in a treat.

Just go slowly, tackle one bit at a time, use effective tools and solutions, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. With the proper techniques, what once seemed an overwhelming mess can be stripped to reveal gorgeous blank walls and a salvaged sanity.


Removing old wallpaper doesn’t need to be painful. By properly using chemical removers, specialized tools, and scraping techniques suited for each wall type, you can conquer the task like a pro. Just be sure to work in stages, use the appropriate manual force, and maintain realistic expectations on timing. Stay hydrated and reward yourself for the progress made. Recruit assistance if available for those hard-to-reach spots.

If you prepare properly and pace yourself, stripping wallpaper can be – dare we say – fun and meditative work. Play uplifting music and go to town dismantling that outdated eyesore covering your beautiful wall surface hiding underneath. You’ve got this!