Wallpaper removal can be a cost-efficient way to rejuvenate your home. It is a quick and easy DIY project that can completely change the interior of a home. The equipment needed is common and available in most major hardware stores such as Bunnings. Necessary equipment includes: drop cloths, painter’s tape, putty knife/scraper, ladder, wallpaper stripper, soap, water, cloth, rubber gloves. Re-applying wallpaper can also be a simple process, particularly if purchasing specific DIY-friendly wallpaper such as the Superfresco EASY wallpaper Range (also found at Bunnings). Style ideas for your new wallpaper are endless – see here and here for some inspiration to get started.

green wallpaper removal traditional

One of the most difficult parts of changing wallpaper is ensuring that the walls beneath the paper are not damaged in the process. While the likelihood of damage will vary depending on the type of paper used, the method outlined below is the best way to remove wallpaper safely. Certain types of wallpaper – such as strippable wallpaper – will be easier to remove and will not require all of the equipment listed above.

If removing wallpaper is proving too difficult, an electrical wallpaper remover may be a better option than the scraping-by-hand method. Alternatively, you could seek help from professionals; it may cost more, but the job can be finished in minutes instead of days.

Before You Start

peeling wallpaper flowers removal wall

It is important that you determine your wall type before beginning the removal. This is because drywall and plaster walls will have different removal needs – drywall is susceptible to water damage, so it is important to avoid using excess water throughout the process.

It is also critical that you determine what type of wallpaper you have before purchasing equipment. This is because only certain types of wallpaper require all of the equipment listed above. To find out, loosen a corner of the wallpaper with a scraper/putty knife and peel.

Scraper putty knife wallpaper removal strippable peelable wallpaper patterned

The paper may come off easily, meaning that you have strippable wallpaper. Strippable wallpaper is the simplest to remove and you will only need to clean the walls a little after stripping it off by hand.

If the wallpaper comes off but leaves a paper backing behind, it is probably peelable wallpaper. The process for removing peelable wallpaper is also fairly easy and you will only require the knife, soap/water, rags, and your own hands.

If the corner of the paper does not come off easily, it means that you probably have traditional wallpaper. To remove traditional wallpaper, you will need a chemical stripper such as this, or a wallpaper steamer in the more extreme cases. Wallpaper stripping can still be a simple DIY project either way.


Step 1

Drop cloth removal cleared room how to prepare

The first thing to do before beginning wallpaper removal is to clear out the room.

Take down any hanging art or decorations on the walls and remove the furniture from the room. You may wish to cluster the furniture together in the center of the room instead if it is too difficult to take out entirely – this is acceptable and the furniture can be protected with a drop cloth. Cover the floors with drop cloths to protect against water.

Step 2

power turned off master switch electricity off power out tuned off

The next thing to do in preparation for wallpaper removal is to turn off the power.

This is the most important step for your physical safety and you must ensure that there is no electricity to the room before you begin. The safest way to do this is to ensure that there is no power to the house whatsoever. If you have experience with electricity and are wholly aware of the wiring system of your house, you may wish to only turn off power only for the room that is being renovated. However, this adds a level of danger and is not recommended for non-professionals as the chance of electrocution is high.


After you have determined whether you have strippable, peelable or traditional wallpaper, you will need to acquire the following tools/materials:

  1. Drop cloths
  2. Putty knife / scraper
  3. Soap
  4. Water bucket
  5. Cloth
  6. Rubber gloves (optional)
  7. Ladder (depending on the height of the walls)

And if your wallpaper is peelable/traditional, you will also need these additional materials:

  1. Chemical wallpaper stripper
  2. Administration container (e.g. spray bottle, paint roller)
  3. Rubber gloves (critical)

Strippable Wallpaper Removal

peeling scraping wallpaper removal strippable wallpaper

Step 1: Once you have lifted the corner of the wallpaper from the wall, use your hands to pull the rest of the paper off the wall in one continuous piece. The paper may rip, but the process remains the same – just find another loose corner and begin again.

peeling scraping wallpaper removal strippable wallpaper

Step 2: Now that the walls have been stripped, wash them with warm water and soap. This will remove any excess material or residue and prepare them for whatever you wish to do next, whether it’s applying new wallpaper or simply leaving the exposed wall.

How to Get Wallpaper Off: Non-Strippable

peeling scraping wallpaper removal

These methods will be slightly more complex. For peelable wallpaper, the backing paper layer needs to be scrubbed from the wall. For traditional wallpaper, it is the wallpaper itself that will require scrape/scrubbing. To prepare peelable wallpaper for the chemical process, you will need to follow the same first step as strippable wallpaper. First, peel the paper off the wall, starting from the corner. There will be a layer of backing paper which will remain after the wallpaper is peeled. That is what will be removed by the next process.

How to take off wallpaper: Step by Step

The next steps apply to both peelable and traditional wallpaper.

chemical wallpaper stripper solvent removal mixing preparation

Step 1: Ready the chemical stripper. This usually involves mixing with hot water and placing the solution into a container (e.g. spray bottle). Instructions will vary depending on the product; follow the guidelines on the bottle. Note that this step could be completed earlier, during the preparation stage, if desired.

peeling chemical wallpaper removal spray

Step 2: Apply the chemical stripping solution to a small portion of the wall and leave it.

Scraping putty knife wall spray bottle chemical wall stripping

Step 3: Once you have let it sit for the recommended amount of time (usually around 10 minutes, but follow the instructions on the bottle) you may begin to scrape away the paper. This means the backing paper for peelable wallpaper, and the entirety of the wallpaper for traditional wallpaper.

peeling scraping wallpaper removal strippable wallpaper

Step 4: Now you should wash the walls to clean excess residue. This is also a good opportunity for general maintenance as you can fill in and sand smooth any holes or imperfections within the wall. Maintenance is especially a good idea if you intend to paint or apply new paper, as it will ensure the coverage is even. Make sure the walls have had time to dry completely before you attempt to try anything more.

Can You Wallpaper Over Wallpaper?

wallpaper layers peeling wallpaper over wallpaper

While it may sound like a time-saving idea, wallpapering over existing wallpaper can cost you in the long run. You might get away with it once, but layering wallpaper is likely to result in warping and reduce the life-span of the paper. Wherever possible, old wallpaper should be removed and replaced. If it is too difficult to remove the wallpaper by hand, consider separating it from walls with steamer or consulting professionals. Failure to remove wallpaper or cutting corners in the process can result in falling wallpaper as the new layer will struggle to stick to the original wallpaper.