How to Steam Off Vinyl Wallpaper?

few steps to remove vinyl wallpaper

Picture this: It’s been years since you’ve updated the wallpaper in your home, and now you’re ready for a change.

The only problem is that you have no idea how to remove vinyl wallpaper without damaging the walls.

Enter the steamer.

Removing vinyl wallpaper with a steamer is a pretty simple process, and it’s much less messy than other methods like stripping or using chemical removers.

Plus, it’s a great way to avoid damage to your walls.

In this short guide, I will help you figure out the complete process, the preparation you need, and the type of steamer you must use for the best results.

So, let’s get started and dive into…

Stripping Off Vinyl Wallpaper with a Steamer

If your home is decked out in the wallpaper trend: vinyl, and now that the wallpaper looks a bit dated – you want to remove it.

If you’re unsure how to get this done, try a bit of elbow grease and your regular clothes steamer.

If you do not have a steamer at home, you can borrow one from your friend or even rent a commercial wallpaper steamer.

A powerful Wagner Spraytech Power Steamer can be a good decision to rent or buy if you have a large wallpaper area to strip.

Because of the extreme heat, steam dissolves the wallpaper adhesive and lets you peel away a layer of wallpaper.

Here’s what you need to do and how to do this correctly:

Step 1. Check the Wallpaper and the Wall

Of the different types of wallpaper available at your local department store, vinyl wallpapers are the most popular because they are easy to apply.

However, before you select a remover solution for your walls, be sure to confirm that your wallcovering is, in fact, vinyl wallpaper.

It’s also critical to find out what kind of walls your room/house has.

Knocking on the surface can confirm whether your walls are plaster or drywall. Plaster produces a solid, dull sound, while drywall gives off a hollow noise.

Most homes built in the past 50 years have drywall rather than plaster due to its affordability and lighter weight.

Additionally, be careful when using sharp tools around drywall as it’s easy to damage the underlying cardboard structure.

Step 2. Check if Your Wallpaper is Easily Strippable

To see whether your wallpaper is removable, pry up the bottom seam or corner of a wallpaper panel with a putty knife and try pulling it away.

If the wallpaper comes off effortlessly, you’re in luck.

Remove the lower corner from the wall until the lower seam of the wallpaper panel is free, then grasp both corners and pull upwards until the whole strip comes off the wall.

If it isn’t easy to remove, you will need to remove it using warm water and steam to loosen the paste.

I recommend creating small holes in the wallpaper before using a steamer, especially for washable wallpaper with a top vinyl layer.

This will allow the steam to penetrate and loosen the adhesive holding the paper on, making it much easier to remove.

Step 3. Gather These Items and Prepare the Room Before You Begin

Now that you know which walls you’re dealing with and the type of vinyl wallpaper that needs to be removed, it’s time to prepare the room for stripping.

Here are the items you will need:

  • Steamer
  • A tarp cover
  • Step stool
  • A wallpaper scraping tool
  • Rubber gloves and eye protection
  • Old towels or newspapers to protect baseboards.

Since you are dealing with dripping water and steam, it’s essential to protect your floors, baseboards, furniture, carpets, electric wiring, and outlets before you start.

Cover the floor with a tarp and put some old towels or newspapers around the baseboards to avoid water damage. Also, remove all furniture and area rugs from the room.

Wallpaper steamers release a lot of moisture, so open a window or use fans to prevent condensation.

Take the faceplates off light switches and sockets. If you can, turn off the electricity in the room and put waterproof tape over all electrical outlets.

After using the steamer, the wallpaper is hot, so wear rubber gloves and eye protection in case of burns from the steam.

Step 4. Removing the Vinyl Wallpaper Using Steam

Now, it’s time to remove the wallpaper. Start by filling the steamer’s tank with water and plugging it in.

While the steamer is heating up, score the wallpaper all over with a scoring tool. This will help the steam to penetrate the paper and loosen the adhesive.

After a few minutes, hold the steamer about 6 inches from the wall and move it slowly back and forth for about 30 to 45 seconds.

The steam will do its job, and you’ll see the wallpaper start to peel away from the wall.

If you overheat the wet wall, it might melt the drywall or plaster beneath the wallpaper. So switch the steamer off and wait for a while.

If you can’t pull away the paper easily, steam for another 30 seconds.

Now using your wallpaper scraping tool (putty knife, scraper, or a scoring tool), start detaching the layer of a wallpaper at a corner or seam.

This should now get off easily.

If wallpaper borders are placed on top of the primary wallpaper, use a warm water spray to remove the border before applying steam.

Remove the entire border so you can peel away any remaining wallpaper more easily.

what to do if wallpaper adhesive is not coming out?

What if the Wallpaper Adhesive is Still Stubborn?

If your wallpaper is particularly stubborn, mix some fabric softener with the water in your steamer.

Apply this homemade wallpaper solvent to the paper following the instructions above, letting it sit for 15-20 minutes so the fabric softener can loosen the glue.

If need be, hit it with steam one more time before stripping away the wallpaper and cleaning surfaces.

Another method is to make a vinegar-based stripper. This can be done by mixing one part of white vinegar with four parts of warm water in a bucket.

Apply this mixture to the wallpaper surface with a sponge, wait 15 minutes, and then use a steamer followed by a putty knife or scraper to remove the paper.

How Can I Get Rid of the Glue After Vinyl Wallpaper Removal?

Baking soda is a fantastic do-it-yourself wallpaper adhesive remover because it is the ideal solution for breaking down dirt and glue stains.

By combining baking soda with liquid dish soap, you can easily remove vinyl wallpaper and any leftover cleaning glue in a fraction of the time.

To use this homemade wallpaper removal solution, simply spray a section generously and let it sit for one to two minutes.

If you have a large wall to clean, double the recipe and combine them in a bucket with a sponge for distribution. Clean wallpaper adhesive in pieces to keep the glue strippable.

This home remedy may also remove painted-over wallpaper.

The baking soda in this recipe is just abrasive enough to function as an excellent homemade vinyl siding cleaner.

Get rid of dirt, mildew, and other contaminants on your house’s exterior effortlessly without using harsh chemicals or expensive cleaners.

The Bottom Line

Removing vinyl wallpaper with a steamer isn’t very tough; it’s time to get to work! Score the paper first, then steam it for 30 to 45 seconds.

If the paper is still stubborn, mix some fabric softener with the water in your steamer.

Avoid using harsh chemicals in your home and just follow the techniques above.

Within a couple of hours, you should have a tidy wallpaper-free wall that can be painted over or finished as you like.

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