How to strip wallpaper with a steamer

Updated February 21, 2017

Don't worry if you want to strip that old ugly wallpaper off your walls and replace it with a newer, more contemporary pattern. All you need to know are a few tips and tricks. A steam wallpaper stripper is a great timesaver and provides the best and fastest results, as long as you execute the procedure correctly. To strip your wallpaper using a steamer, you need two essential tools: an orbital scorer and a wallpaper steamer. These are both inexpensive to buy or rent and will save you loads of work. The other thing to remember is to make sure the wallpaper is well-perforated and damp before removal.

Use an orbital scorer or the putty knife to perforate the wallpaper lightly before soaking. This ensures that moisture can penetrate the wallpaper thoroughly. If the water soaks through the paper, it will completely dissolve the paste and provide an easy removal. Run the orbital scorer in a circular pattern over the wallpaper to every corner to perforate the wallpaper, or use the edge of the putty knife to run small slices diagonally against each other, although using this method can cause scratches in the wall.

Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for tools such as the orbital scorer and steamer. Usually the directions are to fill the reservoir with water and plug in the steamer. Wait until the water begins to boil and is emitting soft steam.

Place the steam padding of the wallpaper steamer on top of the wallpaper and keep it poised in the same place for about 30 seconds. Hold the steamer steady in the same place to ensure smooth removal of large wallpaper pieces.

Remove the now soft, bubbled up wallpaper pieces lightly using the putty knife. Strip the paper in sections, however large you feel comfortable with. Resist the temptation to tear the wet paper into the dryer parts of the wall, since this will cause many small pieces of paper to be stuck to the wall and create more work. Throw the stripped paper in rubbish bags as you go along to make less cleanup.

Use the putty knife to remove any small scraps left behind on the walls. Make sure the wall is completely bare.

Look for holes and imperfections on the wall after the wallpaper has been removed. Use plaster or putty to fill in these dents and holes, and let dry completely before putting up new wallpaper, paint or decor.


Thicker wallpaper, such as textured papers, may take longer to remove and require that the steam pad sit longer on the paper. Try testing the steamer on a small area of the wallpaper to test how long it takes to remove and how long to leave the pad on the wall. Keep the room well-ventilated when using the steamer to strip your wallpaper to avoid the sauna effect.


When removing the wet wallpaper, do not leave it in piles on the floor. Once the wet paste dries, it will stick to anything and become messy. Always be careful and practice safety while using power tools and steamers. Do not use the steamer for more than 45 minutes. Never leave the steamer unattended or switched on. Be careful once water has boiled because the steam can scald you.

Things You'll Need

  • Wide putty knife
  • Rubbish bags
  • Orbital scorer
  • Wallpaper steamer
  • Plaster or putty
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