Wallpaper Removal & Painting

wallpaper scorer

Wallpaper Removal

Wallpaper removal, sometimes referred to as wallpaper stripping, can be a very tedious job requiring patience and the correct tools. What kind of surface are you trying to remove the wallpaper from? How was that surface prepared before being wallpapered?

wallpaper steamer
Wallpaper Steamer

Surfaces are usually either plaster or drywall. It is easier to remove wallpaper from plaster walls. Before wallpapering, plaster walls should be sized. The purpose of sizing is to make the wallpaper adhere to the wall better and to make it come off easier at a later date. In the case of drywall, a primer should be applied first. The primer will seal the drywall. The worst scenario is to strip wallpaper from bare drywall. In this case, the wallpaper is nearly impossible to remove without damaging the drywall

. drywall damage

A skim coat, also known as a level-five drywall finish, is a thin coat of diluted joint compound that can be applied by hand, paint roller or spray rig. You then smooth it out with a drywall knife or trowel. Skim coating will obviously increase the total cost of the project.

Skim Coating

Wallpaper Removal Methods

There are three popular ways to remove wallpaper. One method is to use water in a spray bottle to wet the wallpaper to remove with a scraper or wide-blade knife. To help the process, a wallpaper scorer can be used. The scorer makes cuts in the wallpaper which allows the water to get in behind the wallpaper. Another method is to use a stripping chemical in place of water. You can use a brush to apply the stripping chemical or a sprayer. The chemical breaks down the structure of the glue holding the wallpaper to the wall. The third method uses a steamer to loosen the wallpaper to make the removal process easier. This method also incorporates a scraper or wide-blade knife to remove the wallpaper. The method used is purely a matter of personal preference.

wallpaper scorer
Wallpaper Scorer

Wall Preparation Before Painting

Wallpaper can leave behind a messy residue of glue and wallpaper backing. A putty knife should be used to remove the old glue and any small bits of wallpaper. Lightly spraying the walls with a mixture of water and dish soap can help. It is important to thoroughly clean the walls before painting. TSP is a popular chemical used as a wall cleaner. TSP, which stands for trisodium phosphate, is a powder you mix with warm water and use to wipe down your walls before painting. Next, sand down any rough spots and use spackling to repair any small holes.


Wallpaper removal can be a painstaking project. Once you are sure you want to remove the wallpaper, test a sample area with a putty knife. This will give you an indication of how difficult the entire project will be. It is very important to clean off any remaining residue before painting. When in doubt, hire a professional. If you live in Pittsburgh, PA….. Wagner Home Services is here to help!