How to Use a Wallpaper Steamer

A wallpaper steamer contains a hot water tank with a hose attached to a flat faceplate or hotplate. The water heats up and releases steam from the plate. This steam softens the underlying glue of the wallpaper. These units work well on stubborn glue, making the removal job easier.

Buy or rent a wallpaper steamer at any rental store, home improvement center or wallpaper and paint shop.

Attach the hose and hotplate to the unit then fill the water reservoir according to instructions of particular model.

Use an empty baking pan to hold the hotplate when setting it down.

Spread out a drop cloth or other covering along the floor to catch the fallen paper.

Locate an electrical outlet and plug the steamer in. See steamer instructions for type of extension cord, typically 3 wire with 14 gauge or higher.

Let the steamer heat up.

Wear long-sleeved shirts and gloves when handling the steamer hotplate and hose.

Use a wallpaper-scoring tool first on painted, vinyl or other non-porous paper. This allows the steam to penetrate to the glue.

Place the hotplate against the top of a wall until the paper softens, usually several seconds but read the instructions. Use the hotplate on wallpapered ceiling last.

Slide the hotplate to another section while scrapping or peeling the previously steamed paper. Use a wallpaper scraper or wide putty knife.


Use a stool to stand on when holding the hotplate above your chest. This keeps the hot water from running down your arm. Follow safety instructions for your model. Carefully steam wallpaper attached to drywall. Potential damage might arise to the drywall paper from steam and scrapping. Consider an alternative method for removal. Utilize caution when steaming around electrical outlets, switches and wood trim.


Avoid water overflow that drips downward from ceiling steaming by tipping the excess water out of the hotplate.

Things You'll Need

  • Wallpaper steamer
  • Baking pan
  • Drop cloth
  • Extension cord
  • Long-sleeved shirts
  • Gloves
  • Scoring tool
  • Wallpaper scraper
  • Putty knife
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