Preparing a Room for Wallpaper Removal

Preparing a Room for Wallpaper Removal

How to Remove Wallpaper

How to Remove Wallpaper Paste

How to Avoid Major Drywall Damage Removing Wallpaper.

Installing New Wallpaper.

Fixing Flaking and Peeling Paint  Problems.

Painting Tools and Strategies. 

How to Fix Drywall









What You'll Need

  • A Utility Knife
  • Plastic sheating or rolls
  • Tape (Painter's and Long Mask)
  • Scissors
  • Material or canvas drop clothes or old towels
Before You Start

The preparation procedures outlined below for removing wallpaper and wallpaper paste relate to the wet method of removing wallpaper as opossed to the steam method.  Because water is significantely more aggressive than steam, the time to complete the wallpaper removal project will be far less using the wet method. For this reason, professionals use this method more than any other to remove wallpaper. 

Before stripping wallpaper, remove all

  • breakable items
  • nick nacks
  • plants
  • pictures
  • small furniture

Place the large furniture into the center of the room to allow easy access to the walls while removing the wallpaper. When moving furniture it's a good idea to use furniture glides or pads which can be purchased at most local hardware stores. Using these glides will:

  • make moving furniture much easier
  • protect floors and carpets from damage, and
  • prevent unnecessary stress and damage to the furniture

When removing wallpaper from a room crowded with furniture and other items, it's easiest to work on two walls at a time while placing the furniture against the other walls. After removing the wallpaper, reverse this process  by placing the furniture against the fiinished walls and removing wallpaper from the remaining walls.

Approaching the project in this way will provide more maneuvering room and make the entire wallpaper removal project easier.


Prepare to remove wallpaper by following these steps.

Step 1

Begin by laying plastic down onto all off your floors and carpets. Secure the plastic to the floors with masking tape, getting as close to the edge of the walls as possible.Also, lay a plastic walking path in adjacent rooms in order to protect all floors from wallpaper and wallpaper paste that could accidently get tracked onto the floors.

When taping hardwood, tile, and linoleum floors you'll want to use a long mask tape.  This tape is usually blue in color and is designed for easy removal even after it's been on the surface for up to seven days. The long mask tape is also less tacky, which significantly reduces the chance of damaging the surface it's been applied to.

In the next three steps, a gutter system will be made out of plastic and tape. The water used in the wallpaper removal process will run down the wall. This gutter system is important because it prevents water from finding it's way behind the baseboards and chair rails, which may cause them to warp. The system also prevents water from reaching and staining lower level ceilings or walls.

Step 2

To begin creating the gutter system, measure the distance between the point of the trim molding where the wallpaper ends and the floor. Then add approximately 27" to that measurement.

For example, if the wallpaper ends at the top of the chair rail and the chair rail top is 30" from the floor, this measurement is 57". 

Step 3

Add together the length of each wall that wallpaper will be removed from.

Step 4

Cut plastic pieces that are as wide as the measurment from step 2 and when added together, equal or exceed the total length measured in step 3.

Step 5

Using painters tape, tack the top edge of the cut lengths of plastic onto the wallpaper, approximately 3" above the top of the baseboards or other molding that the wallpaper ends at. Overlap all joined lengths of plastic by approximately 8", taping them together where they've been joined. At this point, the plastic should be taped from approximately 3" above the molding and extend about 2 feet onto the floor.

Step 6

Once all pieces have been tacked up, go back and completely re-tape along the entire top edge of the plastic, firmly pressing down the tape in order to create a water tight seal.






Step 7

Lay canvas drop clothes or towels over the 2 foot section of plastic that extends onto the floor. These clothes will be used to absorb the water run off during wallpaper removal. It's important to have enough towels on hand  since they will become saturated and will need to be replaced with dry ones. The saturated towels can be rung out and layed out to dry or placed into a clothes dryer for further use. 

Step 8

Use plastic to cover all furniture and other items in the room that might be subjected to accidental water overspray.

Step 9

Cover all outlets, switches, vents, and light fixtures with plastic and tape. Cut plastic pieces approximately 4" larger than each dimension of the item being covered. For instance, if the outlet opening is 2"x4", cut a piece of plastic measuring 6"x8".  Overlap the plastic to extend beyond the opening and tape the edges by firmly pressing the painter's tape to create a water tight seal. It's recommended that all electrical outlets switches and other openings be sealed twice.

Step 10

Lightly score all wallpapered walls approximately 1" above the taped plastic, using the utility knife. Do this across the entire perimeter of the room in order to create a tear off point for the wallpaper and ensure that the tape won't tear off during wallpaper removal.

Step 11

Switch off all electical breakers and/or remove all fuses for the room where wallpaper removal is to take place. Following this step will safeguard against accidental electrical shock or injury.  If unfamiliar with switching off breakers or removing fuses, please consult a or liscensed electrical professional or other knowlegeable person.

Congratulations, at this point you've completed the preparation and you're ready to read How to Remove Wallpaper.