Are you interested in removing wallpaper from plaster walls? 

If you use this detailed guide, which includes instructions broken down into steps, you will be able to peel off wallpaper quickly and effortlessly without causing any damage to the plaster on your walls. 

Put away that outmoded wallpaper and welcome the new look of a smooth, uncluttered surface.

Wallpaper is a great way to give a space more personality and charm, but there may come a moment when you want to modernize the area or choose a different pattern altogether. 

If you are unfamiliar with the appropriate removal methods, removing wallpaper from plaster walls can be intimidating. 

You can, however, handle this undertaking with self-assurance if you utilize the appropriate tools and techniques. 

In this tutorial, we will provide step-by-step instructions for removing wallpaper from plaster walls, which will facilitate a seamless and fruitful transition to a modernized and updated appearance.

Before You Begin

Before you get started on this undertaking, give it some serious thought. 

It is possible that further damage will be caused to your plaster walls when you remove the wallpaper from them, but you may not be entirely responsible for this.

Walls made of old plaster and lath typically have multiple layers of wallpaper on them, which have accumulated over the course of time. 

The previous owners may have felt that removing the wallpaper before adding fresh paper was both superfluous and too difficult to do, which is one of the reasons why there are numerous layers. 

In other words, a circumstance analogous to the one you are currently dealing with.

But there’s a possibility that there’s another explanation: decaying plaster walls might have been covered with many layers of wallpaper in an effort to keep them from falling apart.

Therefore, you might discover that the former owner of your property placed wallpaper on decaying and cracking plaster walls in your home primarily to hold the plaster together. 

What Type of Wallpaper?

There are mostly three kinds of wallpaper to choose from. 

The “strippable” variety can be removed quickly and painlessly without the need for tearing or steam. 

Typically, more conventional wallpaper that has not been treated or coated in any way can be peeled off and scraped off after being wet for the first time. 

Wallpapers with a vinyl or laminated finish are the most difficult to remove because of their protective layer. 

Because these kinds of wallpapers are designed to be washable, it is quite impossible for water to permeate them in any way.

What Type of Walls?

Plaster is typically applied over a wood, gypsum, or metal lathe in the construction of the walls of older homes, while drywall is used in the construction of the walls of homes built after the 1950s. 

It can be more difficult to remove wallpaper from drywall because the surface of the drywall can adhere to the wallpaper, which makes it nearly hard to remove the wallpaper without causing damage to the wall. 

Walls that are constructed with plaster typically experience a different problem.

Remove the wall plate that surrounds a light switch, and look at the piece of the wall that is now exposed if you need clarification about the sort of wall you have in your home. 

Conversely, plaster is typically troweled straight up to the electrical box, and drywall will be thinner and more consistent than plaster.

There is a possibility that your home has drywall installed as a result of a recent rebuild or restoration, even if your house is an older model. 

Before removing wallpaper, it is important to ensure everything is in order.

Gather the Right Tools and Supplies

Even though removing wallpaper doesn’t call for many specialized tools, you still need to check that you have all of the necessary supplies before you begin. 

Your plaster walls will crumble if you continue using the outdated method of getting the wall wet and removing the paper.  

Get all of these things together before you begin, and then get the task done as quickly and effectively as possible.

  • Coverings for drops
  • Step ladder
  • Garbage bags for getting rid of outdated wallpaper.
  • A shallow pail of water and a sponge are provided.
  • A wallpaper scoring tool consists of a collection of miniature sharp wheels that are designed to create holes in the surface of the wallpaper.
  • A wallpaper scraper is a tool with a blade that has been finely honed and is positioned at the optimal angle for removing wallpaper off walls without causing damage to the wall’s surface.
  • Gel Wallpaper Remover is a formula that does not drip and retains the remover on the wall for a longer period of time, making it an extremely effective tool for removing stubborn wallpaper.
  • Dissolver for wall covering adhesive: This liquid soap is activated by combining it with warm water, though it may not always require activation. It helps dissolve years’ worth of wallpaper glue, which, if applied widely to the walls with a large sponge, should make it easier to remove the wallpaper. 
  • Perforator for wall coverings: You will first need to perforate the paper in order for the water and the dissolving chemical to enter the layers of wallpaper. This step is especially important if the old wallpaper has been painted and is more resistant to liquids. I utilized the Zinsser Paper Tiger, which consisted of merely running over the paper to create a large number of minute holes through which the liquid could penetrate.
  • Heavy-duty scraper for removing wallpaper: You will accomplish this by chopping away at the paper with a blade that is not particularly sharp and attached to the end of a strong arm. While it is not prohibitively expensive, you should invest in a high-quality one that can withstand being used roughly.
  • Step ladders: Naturally, this will be determined by the height of your room, but you should check that you will be able to reach the highest sections of your walls in a secure manner. 
  • Dust sheets: If you have carpeting in your home or a lot of soft furnishings that you can’t remove, then dust sheets will assist protect everything else in the room from dust. 
  • Box cutter knife: This tool, similar to the perforator, can assist in the creation of slits in the wallpaper; however, it will also assist in the separation of painted paper from other places, such as door frames.
  • Dust masks are recommended because when you bring down the paper, years’ worth of dust and debris will begin to flood the air. Make sure that you are wearing a mask that is appropriate to protect your lungs. 
  • The removal of wallpaper is a fairly messy process, so you should wear old clothes. Check that you are wearing clothes that you won’t mind getting dirty before you go. If that doesn’t work, you might want to look into purchasing some decorator’s overalls. 
  • Bluetooth speaker: Okay, you don’t need a speaker, but turning on a fantastic podcast can help the time pass faster. Almost. 
  • Time: The removal of wallpaper is rarely a fast and simple operation, and this is especially true if the room in question is rather old and has several decades’ worth of paper, glue, and paint accumulated on the walls. If only one of you is working on the job, setting aside a weekend won’t be enough time to finish it. You’ll need to find someone else to help. Expect it to take numerous evenings of labor, and give yourself more time than you think you’ll need, particularly if you’re expecting to redesign a spare bedroom before guests come to your home. I am speaking from personal experience in this matter; please accept my apologies to those of my friends who had to sleep on the couch. 

Using a Wallpaper Steamer

A wallpaper steamer is available for buy or for hire. 

The dried wallpaper paste can be loosened and removed more easily with the assistance of a steamer, which liquefies the wallpaper paste.

Steamers often come equipped with large, flat pads that are supposed to be pressed against a wall for approximately 30 seconds while the steam is being generated. 

If you want to focus the steam adequately, you need to use a wallpaper pad rather than any of the other attachments.

Safety Considerations

worker grinding white wall with sandpaper 1 1024x682

It’s possible that any paint used prior to 1978 contained lead. 

It has been demonstrated that paint containing lead can cause birth abnormalities and interfere with the development of children. 

It is important to avoid breathing in or swallowing any paint containing lead. 

If the walls are made of plaster, there is a significant chance that the paint on the walls contains lead. 

When working with paint containing lead, exercise extreme caution.

Start Stripping the Wallpaper From the Plaster Walls

Utilizing a liquid remover is the procedure that is the most user-friendly, productive, and cost-effective when removing old wallpaper from plaster walls. 

The remover is responsible for the laborious tasks and eliminates a significant portion of the required scraping.

It is always suggested to begin the process with a test area to anticipate any problems lurking beneath the wallpaper.

How to Take Off Wallpaper

In most cases, removing wallpaper from a surface that had been papered in the past is required before the surface may be refinished.

Under certain circumstances, you can decide you do not want to delete the wallpaper already there. 

You are safe to paper over a single layer of smooth wallpaper with good adhesion if the wallpaper does not have any bubbles, buckles, or wrinkles. 

You will have to perform some preparatory work, such as repasting any loose paper, repairing when required, washing the walls, and using a specialized primer.

Installation over previously applied paper is not suggested if the following apply:

  • You have a hunch that there is more than one layer of wallpaper covering the surface of the object.
  • A vinyl, foil, or plastic film covers the surface of the current wallpaper. In this particular instance, the wallpaper ought to be eliminated even if there is just a single layer that is in usable condition. The glue used for wallpaper will not stick effectively to certain surfaces.
  • You have decided to use vinyl wallpaper in your home. If the wallpaper that was removed was also made of vinyl, the adhesive that was used to attach the two pieces of paper won’t dry properly. If the old wallpaper is not made of vinyl, the adhesive behind it may become damp and begin to mildew.
  • Grass cloth, burlap, or cork are used for the wallpaper currently in use.
  • When you run your hand along the surface of the wall, you will hear a crinkling sound. In that case, the wallpaper has buckled and needs to be removed because it cannot be repaired.
  • In the event that there are tears in the wallpaper at the corners of the walls, as the walls settle, the wallpaper might sometimes tear in a corner.
  • It is imperative that you take down the wallpaper before you paint the room. Painting the surface will seal it, which will make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove the wallpaper in the future. Your efforts will be for naught, as the painted surface won’t have the potential to look as smooth as it could have.

Prepare Your Room

You will need to take down any photographs that are hanging on the walls, and ideally, you should take everything out of the room that you can. 

If that is not an option, you should make an effort to stack everything in the middle of the room so that you have unrestricted access to the walls. 

Use a dust sheet to protect the soft furnishings, and do the same thing if there are carpets on the floor. 

Because my room has a vinyl floor, I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I would be able to sweep up the debris afterward. 

Perforate and Prepare Your Walls

Run a perforator over the surface of the paper to generate a dense network of holes, which will assist the liquid wallpaper remover in penetrating the years of paper.

I had to be forceful when making the holes because there were several coats of glossy, dried paint on top of the wood-chip wallpaper. 

I understood that the holes had to be quite deep for the liquid to penetrate the wood-chip wallpaper’s surface. 

You can also use a box cutter to form surface slashes for the liquid, which will allow you to introduce your removal instrument in the future and provide you with a beneficial starting point.

Get a bucket and fill it up with warm water until it’s about halfway full. 

Apply a generous amount of your wallpaper removal solution to your perforated walls using a large automobile sponge or a clean wool or foam paint roller. 

Applying the solution after adding your wallpaper removal solution (according to the instructions on the bottle). 

Wait five minutes before applying it again, particularly if there are multiple layers of paper to be peeled away. 

Instead of trying to get the whole room thoroughly at once, do this step-by-step process in portions. 

Get In There With Your Scraper

Once your paper has been saturated, it is time to get down to the business of really removing the stain. 

If you cut slits in the paper with the box cutter, place the edge of the scraper into one of the slits and then begin to push through it while maintaining a sharp angle to the wall. 

You should be prepared for the fact that the paper will most likely not come off easily; in order to remove portions of it, you will probably need to apply force and make some fairly forceful shoving motions with the scraper. 

Be cautious not to be too harsh and to avoid stabbing too hard into the wall itself; otherwise, you risk damaging the underlying plaster, which you will need to fix later before you can paint or repaper the wall. 

It’s possible that you’ll need to apply the solution once more, especially if you find that parts of the paper’s upper layers have peeled away, revealing the drier, more mature layers below. 

Work on the problem in stages, applying the solution, allowing it to soak in, and then using the scraper to remove it. 

In some places, the paint might peel off more quickly, while you’ll have to chip away at it an inch at a time in others. 

I won’t sugarcoat it; this is a lengthy and taxing process, and I discovered that I needed to take breaks at regular intervals. 

Depending on how old your home is, there is a good chance that part of the underlying plaster will have difficulties that need to be addressed. 

In certain areas of my room, large chunks of it peeled away, revealing the brickwork that lay beneath the surface. 

Don’t worry too much about it; accidents happen, and things can always be repaired. 

Cut Neat Lines With the Box Cutter

My wallpaper had been painted a number of times, with the final white top coat blending in well with the timber door frame and the antique Victorian cornicing. 

I discovered that I needed to use the box cutter’s blade to create a line of separation, which would allow the paper to be removed from the wall without causing the paint to pull up in areas where I didn’t want it to. 

This was necessary in order for me to successfully complete the task. 

I have no doubt that a professional would have done a far better job here — perhaps even suggested completely removing the paint from the door frames –, but to my eye, at least, it looked good. 

Fix Up and Prepare Your Walls for Decorating

After removing all of the paper, you will be able to evaluate the extent of the damage. 

In my situation, significant chunks of plaster began tumbling down from behind the paper. 

It was obvious that the plaster had deteriorated over the course of the years. 

In addition, there were a lot of holes in the wall due to drilling and installing wall plugs; these holes, along with the others, were required to be fixed before the wall could be painted smoothly. 

I filled the smaller holes in the interior with a ready-mixed interior filler using a couple of small joint knives and a ready-mixed interior filler. 

I then scraped the surplus filler off the surface. 

I started by brushing away any excess material and dust from bigger spots of damaged plaster. 

Next, I applied a greater amount of filler and smoothed it over as best as I could until it was pretty much level with the wall around it.

After the filler had dried (typically four to six hours), I used an orbital hand sander with 120-grit sandpaper to sand down the rough areas of the filler until it was smooth and properly matched against the wall. 

This causes clouds of plaster dust to be produced, which will eventually settle over everything in the room. 

Put a stop to any doorways that may be open and lay down some dust covers.

When you are inside the room, it is essential that you always protect your lungs by donning a high-quality dust mask.

In the same vein as removing the paper, this process takes a lot of time, but it is well worth the additional effort. 

If you are able to acquire a superior finish on your base walls, then the paint or paper that you apply over the top will appear better as well. 

Decorate as Desired, Have a Cup of Tea

You are free to decorate your walls any way you like once they have been completed and prepared, whether that entails applying a base of primer and then a coat of paint (like I am doing), or applying new paper that you will need to worry about removing again in the years to come. 

When you’re finished, congratulate yourself with a well-deserved cup of tea and take a moment to enjoy the work that you’ve accomplished. 

Have a biscuit with that, if you don’t mind. Go on, you deserve it.

Tips For Removing Wallpaper From Plaster Walls

  • If steam is directed at the wallpaper for an excessive amount of time (more than one minute), the plaster may crack as a result.
  • After steaming the wallpaper, take a reasonable amount of time before beginning to scrape it off. Wallpaper that has been steamed soon cools down and dries off.
  • Cracks in the plaster can be hidden with multiple layers of wallpaper. Whatever is occuring with the plaster will, at some point, manifest itself in the wallpaper as well. Therefore, plaster cracks will reflect themselves in the wallpaper’s pattern.
  • Be prepared to pull down all of the plaster on your old plaster and lath walls if you want to remove the wallpaper that is currently on those walls before you even start to do so. Consider yourself fortunate if you are able to remove the wallpaper without damaging the plaster and if it stays in one piece. 
  • However, the plaster will be hopeless in the vast majority of cases where numerous layers of wallpaper accumulate. Remove all leftover plaster and lath from the walls, and then use drywall or, for a more historically accurate look, plaster and lath to rebuild the walls.


Removing wallpaper from plaster walls can be daunting, but you can confidently tackle the project with the right tools and approach. 

Consider the type of wallpaper and type of wall to ensure a successful transition. 

Check the type of wall you have before proceeding with wallpaper removal, gather the right tools and supplies, and use a scoring tool, scraper, gel wallpaper remover, adhesive dissolver, and perforator. 

Get a heavy-duty wallpaper scraper, step ladders, dust sheets, box cutter knife, dust masks, old clothes, Bluetooth speaker, time, and a wallpaper steamer to remove wallpaper. 

Steamers and wallpaper pads are essential for removing old wallpaper from plaster walls, and safety considerations should be taken into account.

Installing over existing paper is not recommended if there is more than one layer, the existing wallpaper is vinyl, foil, or plastic film, the wallpaper is grass cloth, burlap, or cork, or there are tears in the wallpaper. 

Prepare the room and perforate the walls with liquid wallpaper remover. 

Apply a wallpaper removal solution to perforated walls and let it soak in for five minutes. 

Use a scraper to remove the paper, not damaging the underlying plaster. 

worker plastering gypsum board wall 1024x682

Cut neat lines with a box cutter to create a line of separation.

Fix up and prepare walls for decorating by assessing damage, applying filler, and sanding down the filler with an orbital hand sander. 

Wear a dust mask and wear a good dust mask to remove wallpaper from plaster walls. 

Decorate as desired, have a cup of tea, and be prepared for pulling down all remaining plaster and lath.

Content Summary

  • Removing Wallpaper From Plaster Walls Looking to remove wallpaper from plaster walls?
  • Follow this comprehensive guide that provides step-by-step instructions to easily and efficiently remove wallpaper without damaging your plaster walls.
  • Removing wallpaper from plaster walls can be daunting if you need to learn the proper techniques.
  • In this guide, we will walk you through the process of removing wallpaper from plaster walls, ensuring a smooth and successful transition to a fresh, new look.
  • If you need clarification on what type of wall you have, remove a wall plate around a light switch and look at the exposed section of the wall.
  • It’s always good to check before proceeding with wallpaper removal.
  • Gather the Right Tools and Supplies Removing wallpaper doesn’t require a lot of special tools, however, you need to make sure you have the correct items on hand before you start.
  •  Gather these tools before you start, and quickly get the job done.
  •  Dust sheets: If you have carpet down in your room or a lot of soft furnishings that you can’t remove, then dust sheets will help protect everything.
  • Make sure you’re protecting your lungs with a suitable mask.
  •  Old clothes: Removing wallpaper is a very messy process.
  •  Time: Removing wallpaper is rarely a quick and easy process, especially if you’ve got an old room with decades and decades of paper, glue, and paint on the walls.
  •  Using a Wallpaper Steamer, You can purchase or rent a wallpaper steamer.
  • Using other attachments will not concentrate the steam enough; you must use a wallpaper pad.
  • Be careful when working with lead-based paint.
  • Start Stripping the Wallpaper From the Plaster Walls The most straightforward, efficient, and economical method for removing old wallpaper from plaster walls is to use a liquid remover.
  • If you’re planning to paint, you must remove the wallpaper.
  •  Perforate and Prepare Your Walls To help the liquid wallpaper remover penetrate the years of paper, run a perforator over the surface to create lots of holes.
  • Add your wallpaper removal solution (as per its instructions) and liberally apply the solution to your perforated walls using either a large car sponge or even a clean wool or foam paint roller.
  •  Get In There With Your Scraper Once your paper is soaked, it’s time to get stuck in with the actual removal.
  • Work in sections, applying the solution, letting it soak in, and then hacking away with the scraper.
  • I have no doubt a professional would’ve done a much better job here — or even suggested removing the paint from the door frames altogether, but it looked good to my eye.
  •  Fix Up and Prepare Your Walls for Decorating Once all the paper is removed, you can assess the damage.
  • This creates clouds of plaster dust that’ll settle over everything in the room.
  • Close any doors, and make sure you have dust sheets down.
  • It’s crucial here that you also wear a good dust mask at all times when you’re in the room.
  • The better the finish you can get on your base walls, the better your paint or paper will look over the top.
  •  Decorate as Desired, Have a Cup of Tea Once your walls are finished and prepared, you can simply decorate however you want, whether that’s simply a base of primer and then a coat of paint (as I’m doing) or new paper that you can worry about removing again in years to come.
  • So, plaster cracks will mirror themselves on the wallpaper.
  • Before attempting to remove wallpaper from your old plaster and lath walls, be prepared for possibly having to pull down all of the plaster.
  • If you remove the wallpaper and the plaster hang together, consider yourself lucky.
  • Pull out all remaining plaster and lath and re-build the walls with drywall or, to be historically accurate, plaster and lath.


Decorate as Desired, Have a Cup of Tea

Use the putty knife and wallpaper scraper to pry up and strip the wallpaper. 

Pull it back at a sharp angle rather than straight off the walls; this reduces the chance that you’ll pull off the plaster, too. 

Keep stripping until the wallpaper has been removed from the area you wet down.

Does Steaming off Wallpaper Damage Plaster?

Directing steam on the wallpaper for too long (over 1 minute) may cause the plaster to crack. 

Don’t waste too much time steaming the wallpaper before you begin scraping.

Do You Need to Replaster Walls After Removing Wallpaper?

You won’t need to re-plaster, regardless. If anything, a light skim coat will flatten things out after paper removal. 

My approach would be to peel and scrape away as much of the paper as is practical using common techniques–putty knives, steam, and paper adhesive solvent.

Can You Use Sugar Soap to Remove Wallpaper?

With the old wallpaper removed and cleaned away into plastic bags, you can quickly finish the wall ready for painting. 

Use your hand to feel for any spots where the adhesive is still on the wall, and buff this away with sugar soap and a Seriously Good Microfibre Cloth.

How Do You Remove 100-Year-Old Wallpaper?

To remove older non-treated wallpaper, you can take a garden sprayer filled with water and wallpaper removal solution and apply it liberally to the wallpaper. 

Let the wallpaper soak for 15-20 minutes, and then use a scraper or dull putty knife to start peeling away the paper.


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