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Whether you’re looking to refurbish an old and tired interior, or you’ve just moved into a property with some seriously dated wall-coverings, you may find yourself needing to strip away old wallpaper.
Luckily, stripping wallpaper isn’t a particularly difficult job and with the help of a wallpaper steamer, you can strip walls in literally a matter of hours.
You don’t need to pay a professional to do this job, it’s 100% DIY-able and with this guide, we’ll help you to strip back the wallpaper that time forgot.
With top tips, a full step-by-step tutorial and advice on picking the right steamer for the job, we’ll explain everything you need to know about wallpaper steamers and how to use them.
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 which you fill with water, this then 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 not only save you a ton of time, but it makes the job much easier too. Alternative methods involve either buying expensive stripping products or just dedicating a lot of time.
Steaming is how the professionals do it, and depending on how many rooms you need to tackle, it can certainly be a worthwhile investment.
Choosing the Right Wallpaper Steamer
There are many different brands of wallpaper steamers out there and 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 surface area you can tackle at once.
- Length of Hose -- A longer hose is important for rooms with high ceilings and taller walls.
At Property Workshop, we highly recommend this Wallpaper Steamer from Earlex:
- Unique design
- Environmentally friendly
- No chemicals
- Easy storage
Tools and Materials
- Wallpaper Steamer
- Wide Stripping Knife
- Protective Floor and Furniture Coverings
- Sugar Soap
1. Prepare the Work Area
Since we’ll be melting adhesive (which is sticky stuff!) and dealing with water, you’ll want to make sure 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, go ahead and 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: Make sure 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 then use a wallpaper stripping knife to simply 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 removing easily, go back over with the steamer for longer.
Eventually, as you get more confident using the steamer, you’ll want to try and multi-task steaming and stripping at the same time. Use the steamer with one hand and strip with the other. This way, you’ll always be one step ahead and have a continuous method going.
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 -- just five simple steps to stripping your walls with a wallpaper steamer. The more rooms you tackle, the faster you’ll get at it and you’ll be a pro in no time.
If you’d like to see this process in video format, we recommend checking out this video from HSS Hire:
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!
We’d love to hear your tips and tricks for using a wallpaper steamer, so feel free to leave any advice in the comment box down below. If you have found this article helpful, please share with your friends.