How to remove wallpaper

With the amount of wallpaper in our house, the first task I set was to remove it!

It was a job I was itching to tackle and got started within the hour of getting the keys to the house!

Removing wallpaper has to be one of the most annoying and time consuming of all renovation tasks but this is how we did it:


     Paint scraper  //   Paper Tiger  //  Garden pressure sprayer  //   Fabric Softener

Don’t forget safety glasses, a stepladder (if you’re short like me) and drop sheets.

TIP:  We just used the old carpet as a dropsheet cos it was being removed right after.  All the mess just got rolled up and dumped in one go 🙂



Wallpaper is made up of 2 layers, the patterned top layer which is usually vinyl and underneath a plain paper layer with the glue attached.

There ended up being 4 different types of wallpaper used in our house, each with varying degrees of difficulty to remove,  but the process was basically the same for each:


Starting from the bottom corner try to carefully pull the top vinyl layer up, it should come off almost as one sheet.   Continue removing as much of the top layer as possible.

If it doesn’t pull off see Step 2




By far the best thing I ever bought was a Paper Tiger scoring tool from Bunnings

With this you just roll it in circles over the paper using very light pressure.  The little blades on the bottom prick holes in the paper which allows the water to penetrate the paper and loosen the glue..




Combine hot water and fabric softener in a large spray bottle at a concentration of one to one.

While there are a number of commercially prepared solutions available, the cheapest and probably best is just hot water and fabric softener (any brand is fine).

Tip:  Using a garden sprayer is SOOOO much quicker and easier, we got RSI by trying to use little water spray bottles on the first day, not fun!

Tip: Mix the solution in small batches though to keep the water as hot as possible.

Tip:  Keep the windows open while doing this as the fabric softener smell is pretty overpowering.   On the upside, within a day the house went from smelling stale and putrid to a fresh white lavender 😉


Spray the paper until saturated, just one wall at a time otherwise it dries out too quick.   Leave it to seep in for a minute (usually by the time you’re finishing spraying, it’s ready to scrape where you started).


Using the paint scraper, start from the bottom of the wall and work up, scraping the paper off in strips.


removing wallpaper

I’d go along doing the bottom half of the wall first and then the top half cos I need a step ladder to reach the top.

removing wallpaper

Tip: It’s a good idea to tape up any lights/switches/power points before starting or even turn the power off… this light nearly electrocuted me! (and not surprising when we found out it was wired with speaker wire!)

removing wallpaper

The kids loved helping…

But after a while reno boy needed a break away from the mess

removing wallpaper


The Paper Tiger scoring tool was vital in reno boy’s room where the pink wallpaper was a very thin vinyl that would not separate and pull off at all.

removing wallpaper

This was the hardest wallpaper to remove EVER!!

In this room we scored the whole lot with the tiger and then sprayed until saturated before scraping off both layers together.   We often had to respray several times too to get it all off and remove all the residue.

This one room took hours which is so frustrating when we know that 3 of the 4 walls will be eventually knocked down for the extension!


After all the paper is gone, wipe over the walls using clean water and a sponge to ensure all of the glue and fabric softener is removed so paint will stick to the wall.

Woohoo, that’s it, pour yourself a wine and sit down and relax!

Now the walls are clean and tidy (and in our case most were green!) and ready to be painted to look good as new!



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