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Paint Power / Blog


If it’s time to swap your dated wall-covering for something fresh and on-trend (we can’t get enough of mid-century modern patterns and art deco motifs), the first thing you’ll want to do is forget all of the horror stories you’ve heard about how difficult the removal process is.

Wall-covering installation expert George Kovacs, of New York-based 78 and Sunny Wallpapering, has been in the painting and wallpapering business since he was 15 and says the process of stripping wallpaper is pretty simple. “If the paper hanger used the right primer, the wallpaper should come up very easily.” If they didn’t properly hang the paper, that’s when you can run into problems, says Kovacs, who has handled some of the world’s finest wallpapers, and is who interior design mavens and pro architects call on for their wall design needs.

Whether or not your wallpaper was thoughtfully installed, these three simple steps will leave your walls stripped and ready for something new in no time.


       1.-  WET IT.



You can start the process by trying to remove the wallpaper by hand without water. “Using a taping knife — the same thing you use for patching walls — find the edge and try to scrape it off,” Kovacs says.

If (read: when) that fails, you’ll need to spray the wall.

Kovacs recommends spraying the paper with warm water to help separate it from the wall. Any generic spray bottle will do, but a vacuum sprayer might speed up the process. In tough cases, a steamer will be your best bet. Cover the floors with plastic or an drop cloth, and generously spritz the entire wall.

        2.-   SCRAPE IT.



After letting the water soak in for a few minutes, you can start to scrape off the paper. Use the same taping knife, gently strip the wallpaper, either left-to-right or up-and-down, depending on what feels easiest. If you’re still having trouble, you might need to spray the wall several times.

Be careful not scratch the wall underneath, it could cause problems later on. If you find another layer of wallpaper, finish the first layer and then move on to the second — you can only remove one layer at a time without causing damage.


       3.-   WASH IT.



Once all the paper is gone, it is time to wash the wall so you can remove any excess primer or paste. Kovacs recommends dampening a sponge with water and going over the wall several times. Believe it or not, this is the most important step in the entire process.

“It doesn’t matter how good you took off the paper, if you don’t wash off the old paste you are going to have problems when you try to paint or re-wallpaper,” he says.



Wallpaper can be used to cover your entire wall or as a nice addition to any paint job. If you’re considering wallpaper as an option, then contact the New York City painting contractors at Paint Power.