Taking it All Off. Rated G.
It’s that time again! Wallpaper removal time. In a few weeks I will begin removing the wallpaper at the Lake Forest Showhouse where again I’ll be displaying my talent in a short term exhibition-style venue. The house is a gorgeous mansion filled with papers of yesteryear; Once the site for a Showhouse in the 1990’s, now a dated maze of patterns that are almost so vintage they’re cool again.
My space is a hallway. The maroon plaid walls are adorned with paper. I will likely be working with my favorite installer to remove the 26′ of paper. But, here’s a tip that I didn’t know until I had the pleasure of removing my grandmother’s wallpaper in her bedroom one summer for a little extra cash. A steamer can really speed up the process. Goodbye to that little claw thingy and the spray (and hours of your life trimmed off!) Here’s some detailed info about what to buy if you have this job ahead of you too.
Thanks to Property Workshop for letting me repost their useful guide.
What is a Wallpaper Steamer?
See how it works by clicking the link.
Choosing the Right Wallpaper Steamer
If you’ve been searching the internet for “Wallpaper Steamer” you might not be looking for the right terms. Try “Stripper” instead of “Steamer.” Insert inappropriate joke here.
1. Prepare the Work Area
Since we’ll be melting adhesive (which is sticky stuff!) and dealing with water, you’ll want to make sure to protect any floors and furniture around where you’ll be working. Lay plastic sheets throughout and cover larger items of furniture.
We also recommend covering plug sockets and light switches as well, and it’s also a good idea to open a window or two to allow steam to escape, so as not to cause any condensation issues.
2. Test The Wallpaper
Wallpaper is often made with two layers and depending on the type of paper used, the top layer will usually pull away on its own without the need for steam.
Using your scraper, cut into the wallpaper to lift up an edge and see if you can easily pull this away with just your hands. If you can, go ahead and remove as much of it as possible.
3. Dampen The Wallpaper
Turn on the wallpaper steamer and wait a few minutes for it to heat up. As it’s much like a kettle, depending on how much water is in it, this could take a little while. You’ll know it’s ready when steam starts coming out of it. Hold the endplate of the steamer onto the wallpaper for around 20-30 seconds until it looks visually dampened.
Pro Tip: Make sure not to over-steam the wallpaper as this can cause damage to the plaster beneath.
4. Strip The Wallpaper
Once the steam has soaked into the wallpaper, you can then use a wallpaper stripping knife to simply push the paper off the wall. The wetter the wallpaper is, the easier this will be.
We recommend dampening only a small area at a time, otherwise, it may re-dry before you get round to stripping it. If the wallpaper isn’t removing easily, go back over with the steamer for longer.
Eventually, as you get more confident using the steamer, you’ll want to try and multi-task steaming and stripping at the same time. Use the steamer with one hand and strip with the other. This way, you’ll always be one step ahead and have a continuous method going.
Pro Tip: Try scoring several large X shapes into the wallpaper first for easier removal with the stripping knife.
5. Wash Down The Walls
When you have removed all the wallpaper, you’ll then need to wash away any adhesive residue and smaller flecks of wallpaper left behind.
For this, you’ll need to use some sugar soap mixed with hot water and a cloth to simply wipe down the wall. Once the walls have thoroughly dried, you’re now ready for re-decorating.
And that’s it — just five simple steps to stripping your walls with a wallpaper steamer. The more rooms you tackle, the faster you’ll get at it and you’ll be a pro in no time.
If you’d like to see this process in video format, here is a professional stripper showing you how it’s done.