How To Remove Old Wallpaper

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If you plan on painting your new space, and you have pre-existing wallpaper on it, you are going to need to get it off, before doing anything else.  Some people decide to take shortcuts and cut corners by painting OVER the wallpaper, but most of the top house painters in Summit will tell you that this is not a good idea!  One of the most important aspects to creating a good base foundation to a wall and painting it is to make sure it’s clean of dust, dirt, holes, and cracks and yes, wallpaper!  At first glance, taking down wallpaper might seem like a really easy thing to do, but it does take some elbow grease and some smarts!  So take a look below at some of the tips to help you along the way!  And if you live in Summit NJ and need help contact an interior design expert.

Removing Old Wallpaper

In some cases if you have a wallpapered wall and you want to place new wallpaper on it, you can usually just place the new paper under the old paper.  Like I said, in some cases!  But, if you are painting a wall and you have wallpaper underneath, this is not the best way of going about this.  Instead, you will absolutely need to remove the old wallpaper and then paint the new wall.  If you don’t remove the wallpaper what will happen is the paint will seep through the paper and create an undesirable look, but what will also happen is the seams will show through the paint – not a good look.  Furthermore, you will most likely need more paint to paint over the wallpaper than you would if you just took it down to begin with; major money waster.

Your Wall Type

When taking down your wallpaper, it’s important that you figure out the type of wall that you have before you even begin to take the paper down.  Plaster is found in older homes.  On a wall with plaster, you will see that a wood lath is nailed to the interior frames of the walls and then it’s covered with plaster – usually 3 or 4 layers.  Though these walls do tend to be older, they also tend to be more solid.  On the other hand, if you don’t have a plaster wall, you probably have a drywall.  Drywall is usually found in homes that have been built over the past 50 years.  Drywall is a chalk like sheet of wall and the backing of it is a type of lightweight cardboard.  These sheets are like the plaster walls in that they are nailed into the wood frames of the walls, but this also tends to be much more fragile than plaster which is why it’s important to watch how it’s handled when using wallpaper removal tools like scrapers.


  • Remove everything from the walls including pictures.
  • Take down any decorative objects like shelves, knick knacks, etc.
  • Remove as much furniture as you can, or at least move the furniture to the center of the room and cover it with a drop cloth.
  • Place some old fabric or towels along the baseboard – this will get messy!

Strippable Wallpaper

If you have started to remove your wallpaper and you start to see that your drywall is also pealing up too, stop!  Chances are this is happening because the drywall wasn’t sealed with enough paint.  When this happens, you will need to glue down any strips you have ripped up, fill in uneven areas, and sand down any repairs.  Next, you will have to use an oil based sealer with an enamel undercoat.

Kinds of Wallpaper

There are a few types of wallpaper and both have different pros and cons as well as ways to get them off the wall.  Strippable paper is easier to get off the wall and will take less time and energy to remove.  This type of paper is common in homes that have been papered with in the past few years.  You WILL know if you have strippable paper or not.  Strippable paper can be removed using just your hands and you shouldn’t need any tools.  On the other hand, there is also wallpaper that will need to be removed with water and a few other tools.  It’s not really the fact that strippable and un-strippable are two different types of paper, but it’s more of a new versus old situation.  Older wallpaper will most likely need to be taken down with water and newer should be able to be removed with just your hands.  There is also peelable wallpaper and washable wallpaper.

If you are not finding the water option nor the hand option is working, you probably have wallpaper that is really old!  When this happens, it might be a better idea to leave it alone and instead hire a company that can take the paper down using a steaming technique.  This will essentially help “melt” the glue under the paper and will make getting it off of the wall much easier!  You can probably also rent a steam machine for this specific situation.