I've got wallpaper that was put up in the 70s. Trying to get it off the wall is proving impossible. Have used all the home remedies and removers you can get st the store to no avail. May try the steamer, but doubt it will get this stuff off

Any suggestions?


It is often faster and cheaper (particularly if you are paying for labor, so faster is cheaper, but merely saving your own time is good, too) to either cover the wallpapered wall with thin sheetrock, or bash out the wallpapered wall, do anything a sensible person would do with the wall open, and place new sheetrock.

This seems like a drastic, nuclear option approach when you are thinking "but I just wanted to remove the wallpaper!"

You can waste a lot of time and effort and products trying to get an old wallpapered wall looking as good for paint as a newly sheetrocked wall. Demo is messy (so is wallpaper removal) but quick. New rock is quick...and you can fix any wiring or insulation issues in the wall. There's another wallpaper removal question where where one answer says they spent 6 nights doing a 10x10 room sure, it was the worst room, but tearing out and new rock would definitely have been faster, in my experience.

  • I've never understood the "bash out the old wall" mentality, meaning, take a hammer to it. I did that once decades ago and will never do it again. Smarter: use a sawzall and cut it down in sheets. Carry sheets out, not shovels of debris. Cleaner, easier, smarter.
    – Rob
    Sep 26 '17 at 12:15
  • 1
    One single sawzall screwup involving a wire or pipe will cure you of that. Of course, you never screw up, ever, not even once...couldn't happan to you.
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 26 '17 at 21:38
  • How is bashing a wall with a hammer any different? Are you saying you knock down walls with live power and water running in them?
    – Rob
    Sep 26 '17 at 21:43
  • 1
    There's a difference between "knocking down a wall" and removing the face to replace it. When knocking it down, all that's coming out. When replacing the face, it all needs to work under the new face. Regardless of turning off power, water or gas, NOT having to make a repair to one of those services due to a cut is a LOT faster than having to repair one of those services due to a cut. And when you cut, you end up with a bunch of strips on the face of the studs you still need to pry or bash off.
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 26 '17 at 21:49

A wallpaper steamer, a scorer, a stripping knife and A LOT of patience.

I had to remove 3 layers of wallpaper in a flat I just got. This flat was built in the 19th century so no doubt the oldest layer was from the 60s at least.

I tried everything, from various products to just ripping it off with a knife. In the end I bought myself a steamer and it turns out to be by far the best way.

Sometimes I felt like the steamer was going too slow so I went back to old products etc and I always came straight back to the steamer, being at least twice as fast if not way more.

How to use it properly

  1. First, make sure you score the wallpaper with a scorer (mine was an orbital scorer). This makes little holes in the wallpaper allowing for the steam to get in behind it.

  2. Second, steam. Stay on an area for about 20/30 seconds.

  3. Third, when the area is steamed, slide the stripping knife behing the wallpaper.

  4. Fourth, patience. Be aware, this sounds straightforward, but sometimes you'll have to come back on the same area with the steamer for 2 or 3 times. Still better than any product out there that they say "works like magic" (untrue).

  • 1
    This should be the accepted answer
    – jeerbl
    Oct 4 '17 at 16:46

Removing old wallpaper is not only very slow work, it often doesn't end well. You can end up needing to skim coat all of the walls, or even repair pulled-out chunks of drywall or problems that were hidden by the wallpaper.

If the wallpaper does not have any texture, just leave it in place. Clean up the seams so they're smooth (sand or skim), although even those often aren't noticeable after painting with flat paint. Of course, repair anything that needs it. But priming well and then painting with a good grade of paint saves all of the removal time, cost, and repair/cleanup, and the result looks essentially the same (or close enough that removal isn't worth it).

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