How to Remove Wallpaper On The Cheap (And Eco Friendly!)

by Rachel Blackburn in ,

This house is full of wallpaper.  I’m sure you’ll hear about it many times - my apologies in advance.  

When we decided to buy this house, I went to my BFF Pinterest and did some research on wallpaper removal.  I also talked to friends and family who had removed the stuff.

The result?  I was sure this was going to take FOREVER!

We went to Home Depot to pick up wallpaper removal stuff.  I had a pinterest-approved list - chemical wallpaper removal gunk, tool to punch holes in the wallpaper to make the chemical stuff soak in and scrapers. 

Then I was introduced to a magical device: the wallpaper steamer.

This thing is cool.  It was $50 and required no chemicals - water only.  The chemicals would have cost us about $150 for one room alone!  

Talk about cost savings.  

The steamer worked great, but I would call this a two-person/no kids around job.  One person steams, the other person scrapes.  Plan on lots of quality time to talk while steaming.  Do this after your kids have gone to bed or while they are being babysat - the steamer can spit really hot water from time to time.  

So, how did we do it?

Have one person steam the wallpaper.  We found 15 seconds on each section to be ideal in our situation.

The other person comes behind and scrapes the wallpaper using a plastic scraper.

Repeat.  Many, many times.  It took us 3 evenings (maybe 8-10 hours?) to do one room.  


A few things we learned: 

Get all the backing off.  Every last bit.  If you don’t, it will cause problems with your paint job afterwords.

If you happen to build up enough steam in the room from working on the wallpaper and your wallpaper is old enough, it will start to peel away from the wall without your having to apply direct steam to the wallpaper.  Big chunks come off - very satisfying!


In the end, this job was not as awful as I thought it would be.  In fact, it was pretty satisfying.  I recognize that not everybody’s wallpaper will act the same way and in some instances, the chemicals will be necessary, but try the steamer first - you just might be pleasantly surprised!