How to Remove Wallpaper: A Step-by-Step Guide
February 22, 2024

Getting ready to renovate?

If you’re planning to decorate a room that’s covered in wallpaper, we can help with that. 

Don’t be tempted to paint over it or apply new paper over the top. Removing the wallpaper will give you a much better finish, whichever way you choose to decorate, and it’ll help your freshly painted or papered walls last longer. 

In this guide we’ll walk you through how to remove wallpaper every step of the way in three sections. Firstly, we’ll explain how to prepare your wall, then we’ll show you how to remove the wallpaper, and finally, how to prepare it for redecoration. 

Before you begin any work, make sure you have the right tools for the job:


Tool Kit

Steam stripper (remember to never leave it unattended when it’s turned on)

Stripping knife

Dust sheets

Masking tape to protect sockets and switches

Plastic bag and scissors, again to protect sockets and switches

Water jug for refilling your steamer as you go

Utility knife

Bin bags for collecting the old wallpaper

Bucket and large sponge


Safety Kit

Step ladder for working at height

Wooden board or level, heat-resistant surface to lay your steamer on

Safety glasses to protect against steam, any hot water drips and falling paper

Heat-resistant gloves to prevent scalds

Prepare Your Wall

Before starting to remove the wallpaper, you first need to prep your wall. 


1. Clear your space by taking everything off the walls and pushing any furniture towards the middle of the room. 

2. Open a window for ventilation so the steam from your steam stripper can escape.

3. Cover your floor and furniture with dust sheets to protect them and make the clean-up much easier.

4. Turn off the electricity to the room using your fuse box to prevent steam getting into sockets and switches.

5. Protect sockets and switches with masking tape and plastic sheeting. Cutting a section out of a plastic bag will do the trick.

6. Score the wallpaper with an orbital scorer to loosen the adhesive and make stripping the wallpaper off easier. This is an especially useful step if the wallpaper has been painted over as the steam won’t penetrate the paper as well. 

7. Put on protective clothing like heat-resistant gloves and glasses to prevent any scalds from the hot water in your steam stripper.

How to Strip Wallpaper with an Electric Steamer

Getting old wallpaper off is easy with a steamer once you know how to do it. Watch our video and follow our step-by-step guide and you’ll soon be removing wallpaper like a pro. 

1. Fill the Steamer

Fill the steam stripper with water using a jug for precision and turn it on. When steam starts to appear from the plate, it’s ready to use.

2. Start Removing the Wallpaper

Hold the steam plate at the bottom of a length of wallpaper for 10 to 15 seconds and release. The steam should have loosened the paper enough to allow you to pull the length of wallpaper off. Remove any stubborn areas with a stripping knife, with the blade flat against the wall to prevent the edges from digging into the plasterwork. 

Check your steam stripper’s user manual for how long to hold the pad on the wall. Be careful not to leave it on for too long as it could cause the plaster underneath to crack. Whenever you put the steamer down, place it carefully on a level wooden board or heat-resistant surface. Never detach the hose while it’s turned on.

3. Work Your Way Up

Work your way up the wall because the steam will rise as you go, loosening areas higher up and making it easier to strip the paper off by pulling it off with your hand.

4. Gather Old Wallpaper and Fill the Steamer

Gather paper on the floor periodically and put in a bin bag to avoid it sticking tight to the dust sheets. Check the steamer regularly as well to make sure it isn't running low on water – if it runs out, it could damage the machine. Fill it up when necessary with a jug.

5. Use a Ladder to Reach the Top

When you reach the top of the wall, remove the paper by standing on a step ladder to prevent any scalding water from the appliance running down your arm. Be sure never to hold the appliance above your head.

6. Be Careful Around Sockets and Switches

Take extra care around sockets and switches. Some steam strippers come with a smaller plate for this step so swap the plates if so. 

7. Remove Any Remaining Pieces

Once all the large strips of paper are off, remove any remaining bits with a stripping knife so that the wall is nice and smooth.

Preparing Your Wall for Decorating After Removing Wallpaper

Once the wallpaper has all been removed and you’ve scraped off any last pieces, follow these final steps.


1. Place a metal ruler next to any edges and use a utility knife to score against it to remove any bits of wallpaper in those areas. This will stop the paint or paper on the ceiling or adjoining wall being stripped off with it. 

2. Clean the wall with a sponge and water and leave it to dry. 

3. Once it’s all completely dry, turn the power to the room back on. 


Your walls will then be ready to decorate!


Now you know how to remove wallpaper you can get the job done quickly, easily and efficiently. If you’ll be painting your walls next, check out our guide on how to paint a wall and learn how to prep it and paint it the right way. 

For any equipment you need along the way, you can always count on us. Pop into your local Robert Dyas store or shop our DIY range online where you’ll find everything you need to get your jobs done.