Wallpaper Removal is Easy Using a Wallpaper Steamer

by teddletonmr

Liquid spray wall-covering strippers work ok on small areas. However, medium to large wallpaper stripping projects require using a wallpaper steamer to do a proper job.

The great thing about using decretive vinyl coated and fabric backed wall covering. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to install and add a great look or theme to an accent wall, or an entire room for that matter. The not so great thing, when styles and designs change, or over time colors fade and edges curl and peal. Papering or painting over the mess will never work. There is only one way to fix our interior design dilemma. We will need to remove the tired outdated color scheme and begin anew.
Follow along and join in on the chat as we discover the best way to remove wall coverings using the best wallpaper steamer for your job.

Things you should know about removing wallpaper

Both, large and small wallpaper removal jobs have many things in common.

Before we begin removing our old wall coverings, we should consider a few things. For Starters knowing what type wallpaper, we need to strip. How many layers of the stuff are on the walls, and let us not forget, how the wall coverings are adhered to different surfaces. All these tid-bits of information contain valuable clues as to how difficult it will be to strip away.

Something we all should remember to keep in mind. Vinyl coated, and multiple layers of paper-backed wallpapers make it a bit more troublesome to loosen the paste adhering it to the wall.

In order to make loosening and removal easier, consider using a scoring tool, AKA perforator to poke a bunch of small holes through the top layers. This little tip will make it possible for the steam from the steamer pan penetrate and loosen the most stubborn of wall-coverings adhesives.

How a Wallpaper Steamer Works

Think of a steamer as a small electric water heater that gets hot enough to make steam

There are a select few, steamer / cleaners designed with the DIY minded homeowner in mind. Oh yeah, you know folks just like you and me that like a home improvement tool that will do more than just one job. No one trick pony here, these handy little cleaner / steamers are great to have around the house, garage, and patio. Well adapted for removing wallpaper, cleaning wall and floor tiles, sanitize kitchen and bathroom surfaces, and remove grease and grime, from the barbeque grill without the use of caustic chemicals.

Sounds good right, the down side to these types of small steamer cleaning machines, the limited reach of the 8-foot steam hose, is too short to reach standard ceiling heights. The .4-gallon water capacity reduces weight. However, only works for about 45-minutes between refills, making removing wallpaper from a medium or large room simply too much for the small capacity wallpaper steamer.

On the other hand, for those small stripping and cleaning jobs around the house the Wagner 915 1,500-Watt Steamer / cleaner is as good as it gets. Costing less than $100, the Wagner is a good inexpensive, wallpaper steamer and steam cleaner combination. Making the small Wagner a great deal for the DIY type that has a limited budget and small wallpaper-stripping job.


Using the proper Wallpaper Steamer

Using the best method, tools and order of operations make your wallpaper removal job much more efficient.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, removing wall coverings is a bigger job than hanging the stuff. That is not to say removing outdated, pealing wallpapers isn’t without its own rewards. It absolutely is, redecorating and remodeling is somehow part of our DIY make up, genetic code if you will. Any-hoo, with no further delay, let’s get to putting this preferred method of wallpaper removal to work for us.

Things worth consideration, using the best method for removing stubborn wall coverings begins with the proper tools. Vinyl coated and multiple layers of fabric-backed wall coverings removal jobs require using specially designed wallpaper removal tools. In conjunction with the proper orders of operations, too make stripping the ole stuff as quick and efficient as possible.

Proper Wall Covering Removal Tools

  1. Protective clothing
  2. Safe working environment
  3. Wallpaper steamer, perforator and scraper

Protective Clothing

Work safely; protect yourself from painful burns and accidental injury

I believe we will all agree protecting our hands, arms, and eyes from painful burns are something worth careful consideration. Oh yeah I said burns, think about it this way for a moment. Who amongst us hasn’t grabbed and removed a lid on a simmering stockpot without a potholder? Don’t tell me, let me guess, it doesn’t take you long to look under the lid, right. No seriously folks, just like under the lid of a boiling stockpot steam condenses into extremely hot water droplets. Likewise, the steam from the hose and pan of a wallpaper steamer will condense into water hot enough to blister unprotected, sensitive skin on our arms hands and face.


To help avoid these types of painful injuries, simply follow these simple steps that help keep us safe.

Always, wear protective clothing; we all know we should wear a good pair of gloves to protect our hands. Most of us understand wearing safety glasses or goggles that protect our eyes from harmful debris are extremely important. .However, the thing many do not take into consideration, or think important. We really should take protective measures; protect our arms, head, and neck from the scalding hot water droplets, which drip out of the steamer pan. Wearing an old long sleeved shirt, baseball hat or buy one of those disposable painter’s coveralls and head net things is an inexpensive way to protect us from harm.

Maintain a Safe working environment

Clean as you remove the wallpaper, use a fabric drop cloth, prevent tripping, and falling

Work safely; for starters, avoid reaching above your head with the hot steamer pan, tray, or hose. As the steam condenses

Scalding hot water droplets form. Working at or below, shoulder height will help to prevent nasty burns to head, neck, face, and most importantly. Reduce the risk of exposure of eyes to harmful debris. (FYI) a good sturdy platform ladder, or scaffolding, is far better than standing in a chair, coffee table, or storage container. As your removal job requires removing a border, or wall coverings from on and around vaulted ceilings and other overhead spaces.

Looky Louise, straw bosses, or by-standers if you like, all usually make good helpers. Just simply ask any unproductive onlookers standing around for help. Give them the option of either picking up and disposing of all the sticky wet, bits of wallpaper and put it into a trash bag. Before it has a chance to dry, sticking to everything, it meets. That is of course, unless you can talk or bribe them into taking charge of steaming, scraping, and removing the wallpaper for you. One thing is certain; they will either lend a helping hand, or suddenly remember something important they need to take care of. Either way, this helps to keep them from adding to or, creating further distractions that impedes progress, it’s worth a shot, after all, we can only hope for the best and do our best to plan for the rest, right.


Selecting the proper Wallpaper steamer, perforator and scraper

Using the best tool for your wallpaper removal job, saves time and money

ugly peeling wall covering Homeowners like you and me simply want to save as much money as possible when doing any home improvement project. I believe we all will agree removing wallpaper is no different. After all the moneys, we save, not hiring a home improvement contractor. Gives us all the reason we need to purchase the best tools for the job and remove all those ugly outdated wall coverings ourselves, right.

The thing we must take care to avoid, buying, hiring, or renting removal tools that cost us valuable time, and money. When spray strippers do a good job of removing single layers of paper, like a backsplash, small powder room or cupboard. We really do not need a professional duty wallpaper steamer. On the other hand, when the job is removing multiple layers of wall coverings in several rooms, liquid spray strippers, and small capacity wallpaper steamer cleaners are not well suited for these types of medium to large removal jobs.

Both large and medium wallpaper removal jobs, especially those that involve multiple layers of paper. Certainly require using a wallpaper steamer designed. With the heavy-duty features, tough removal jobs demand. Take for instance, the Warner 5687, 120-volt, 15-Amp 1500-Watt Wallpaper Steamer is the best tool a homeowner, handyman, or woman will need to buy, hirer or rent for these types of home improvement projects.

Warner 5687 Wallpaper Steamer Review

The best 120-volt, 15-Amp 1500-Watt Wallpaper Steamer comes with the features you will need to make removal of wall covering much easier

The Warner 5687 electric Wallpaper steamer / remover, is the ideal choice for any homeowner, handyman, and remodeling contractor. That find themselves with several rooms of wall coverings they need to remove. This professional duty machine, makes removing the most stubborn wall coverings much easier than other less efficient stripping methods.

Just as the smaller less effective on demand type steamers. The Warner wallpaper remover operates on standard U.S household, 110-volt, 15-amp electricity. Similar to that used by your typical countertop toaster oven. However, the similarities end there.

As indicated by a red light located on the front of the machine. The 1500-watt heating element, cycles on, and off, continuously generating ample steam for any difficult wall covering removal job.

Adding to The Warner 5687 wallpaper steamer versatility, this wall covering removal tool comes with two quick-change steam pans. The first is a narrow steamer pan, great for stripping wall coverings from those tight spaces, between door jams, tight corners, and so on. The medium width steamer pan is ideal for large areas, walls, backsplashes, and the like.

With the generous length of 15-feet of heavy-duty steam, hose and quick detach connectors. It is a relatively quick and easy, task to change from narrow pan, medium pan or simply use the quick connect nipple on the end of the hose to direct steam into the narrowest of spaces, and easily remove bits of stubborn wallpaper from tight areas, too the largest of spaces.


Ugly Peeling Wallpaper Needs Removal

Out dated peeling wallpaper
Out dated peeling wallpaper

Preparing to Remove Wallpaper

Before we get started removing that ugly old wallpaper, there are a few things we should do to get ready.
  1. For starters, remove everything that on or near the walls, pictures, clocks, works of art, furniture etc.
  2. Remove all wall mounted receptacle, and Light switch cover plates. Remember steam and water does not get along with electricity. For me personally, I prefer to kill the power to the room by tripping the breaker in the electrical panel for each room I find myself working in.
  3. Then and only with the power shut off. Remove the cover plates exposing the screws located at the top and bottom of each box, that house each switch and plug-in.
  4. Using a cordless screwdriver, remove each of the two screws used to attach the switch or outlet to the box.
  5. Gently pull each light switch, and receptacle out of the box and check for loose wires, or any discoloration that are signs of overheating.
  6. Then cover each switch, and plug-in, with a plastic bag and secure the bag using a bit of electrical tape.  


How to Set-up a Wallpaper Steamer

You should take into consideration a wallpaper steamer takes anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour to generate a full head of steam.
  1. With this in mind, set up the steamer by filling it with water, the Warner 5687 has a clear glass tube located on the front of the machine that serves rather nicely as a fill gage.
  2. It has been my experience, filling the water tank to about an inch or the width of a ladies two fingers, from the top of the sight glass allows for the proper headspace required for the steamer to generate the proper amount of steam.
  3. (FYI), Overfilling the water tank, will result in the water expanding as it is heated, this expansion fills the steamer hose and pan with nothing but hot water. Until this water expansion forces the excess water from the tank, there is no room for steam to form.
  4. With the water tank properly filled, and hoses connected to both the water tank and steam pan. Drop the steamer pan into a 3 or 5-gallon plastic bucket, and plug the power cord into a good 110-volt power outlet. The bucket will catch the dripping water as the steamer heats up, and makes a good place to keep the steamer pan out of the way when you are not using it.
  5. While awaiting the wallpaper steamer to heat-up, this is a good time to lay out a drop cloth, set-up a platform ladder, or scaffolding, and go to work with a perforator.

Using a Wallpaper Steamer and Removing Wall coverings

Remember, perforate, steam, scrape, and wash away the wallpaper paste residue before it resets..
  1. Determining what type of wall covering and how many layers there are to remove. Multiple layers of paper, and vinyl coated wallpaper is best removed by first perforating the top layers using a Paper Tiger, or perforator, poke a series of small holes through the paper, this allows the steam to penetrate, and loosen stubborn wallpaper adhesives.
  2. Using a sharp utility knife, trace around the edges of door, window, and crown moldings.
  3. When hanging wallpaper, we start at the ceiling and work our way down the wall. Letting gravity work in our favor, and helping to hide seams, however, when it comes time to remove out dated tired old wall coverings, it is best to start at the floor, and work our way to the ceiling.
  4. Press and hold the steamer pan against the wall for about ten too fifteen seconds to soften and loosen the adhesive.
  5. Starting at the floor and bottom edge of the wallpaper, gently slide a four-inch wide scraper separating the wall covering from the drywall, plaster, or other surfaces to remove vinyl coated and fabric backed wall coverings.
  6. While the adhesives are still pliable from the steam, wash away all remnants using a clean grout sponge and bucket of clean water.
  7. Repeat steps 3, 4, 5, and 6 too enjoy the task of removing all the dated old wallpaper.     




Updated: 01/04/2013, teddletonmr
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?

Wallpaper Removal using a Steamer Chat

katiem2 on 01/07/2013

Great wall paper removal tips. :)K

2uesday on 01/05/2013

Useful advice for anyone attempting to remove wallpaper before redecorating.

teddletonmr on 01/04/2013

Thanks Tess...

TessaSchlesinger on 01/04/2013

Absolutely outstanding article! :)

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