Whether you’re looking to refurbish an old and tired interior, or you’ve just moved into a property with some shocking wall-coverings, you may need to strip away old wallpaper.
Fortunately, with the help of hot steam and this handy guide on how to use a wallpaper steamer, you’ll be stripping those ugly walls in no time.
What is a Wallpaper Steamer?
The simplest way to describe a wallpaper steamer is to think of it as a giant kettle. It has a tank you fill with water that heats up and slowly boils, releasing steam through a hose into a large plate that directs it onto the wall.
This steam then helps to melt away the wallpaper adhesive and, as such, allows you to simply pull the paper away from the wall. Much like opening an envelope over a kettle. Not that we recommend that, mind.
Using a wallpaper steamer to strip wallpaper will save you a ton of time and make the job much easier too. Alternative methods involve buying expensive stripping products or dedicating a lot of time.
Steaming is how the professionals do it, and depending on how many rooms you need to tackle, it can be a worthwhile investment.
Choosing the Right Wallpaper Steamer
There are many different brands of wallpaper steamers out there; at first glance, they can all appear exactly the same. Choosing which one to buy doesn’t have to be complicated, though and to help you pick, we recommend considering these four simple points;
- Water Tank Capacity – The larger the tank, the longer the running time before refilling.
- Power – A higher wattage means more power and quicker heat-up times
- Size of Steaming Plate – The bigger the plate, the bigger the surface area you can tackle at once.
- Length of Hose – A longer hose is important for rooms with high ceilings and taller walls.
Tools & Materials
- Wallpaper Steamer
- Wide Stripping Knife
- Protective Floor and Furniture Coverings
- Sugar Soap
How To Use a Wallpaper Steamer – Step-by-Step Instructions
1. Prepare the Work Area
Since we’ll be melting adhesive (sticky stuff!) and dealing with water, you’ll want to protect any floors and furniture around where you’ll be working. Lay plastic sheets throughout and cover larger items of furniture.
We also recommend covering plug sockets and light switches as well, and it’s also a good idea to open a window or two to allow steam to escape so as not to cause any condensation issues.
2. Test the Wallpaper
Wallpaper is often made with two layers, and depending on the type of paper used, the top layer will usually pull away on its own without the need for steam.
Using your scraper, cut into the wallpaper to lift up an edge and see if you can easily pull this away with just your hands. If you can, remove as much of it as possible.
3. Dampen the Wallpaper
Turn on the wallpaper steamer and wait a few minutes for it to heat up. As it’s much like a kettle, depending on how much water is in it, this could take a little while. You’ll know it’s ready when steam starts coming out of it. Hold the endplate of the steamer onto the wallpaper for around 20-30 seconds until it looks visually dampened.
Pro Tip: Ensure not to over-steam the wallpaper as this can cause damage to the plaster beneath.
4. Strip the Wallpaper
Once the steam has soaked into the wallpaper, you can use a wallpaper stripping knife to push the paper off the wall. The wetter the wallpaper is, the easier this will be.
We recommend dampening only a small area at a time; otherwise, it may re-dry before you get round to stripping it. If the wallpaper isn’t removed easily, apply the steamer for longer.
Eventually, as you get more confident using the steamer, try multi-tasking steaming and stripping simultaneously. Use the steamer with one hand and strip with the other.
Pro Tip: Try scoring several large X shapes into the wallpaper first for easier removal with the stripping knife.
5. Wash Down the Walls
When you have removed all the wallpaper, you’ll then need to wash away any adhesive residue and smaller flecks of wallpaper left behind.
For this, you’ll need to use some sugar soap mixed with hot water and a cloth to simply wipe down the wall. Once the walls have thoroughly dried, you’re now ready for re-decorating.
And that’s it! Five simple steps to stripping your walls with a wallpaper steamer. The more rooms you tackle, the faster you’ll get.
If you’d like to see this process in video format, we recommend checking out this video from HSS Hire:
How To Use a Wallpaper Steamer – Final Thoughts
We believe investing in a wallpaper steamer is worthwhile, particularly if you have multiple rooms to strip. Trust me, you won’t regret it, and you’ll never go back to wallpaper stripping without one again!
For information about removing unwanted decor, check out our guide to stripping paint.