How to Use a Wallpaper Steamer

Speed Up The Process of Stripping Wallpaper With This Guide

Stripping away old wallpaper can be a daunting and laborious task. Often it involves getting the scraper out and spending hours hacking away. Thankfully, there are more modern methods that get the job done in a fraction of the time, and without all the hassle. Yep - we’re talking about the wallpaper steamer.

To save yourself the hassle next time, did you know that all our Graham & Brown wallpapers use paste the wall technology, which means the paper comes off in full easy strips. This means there is no need to get the wallpaper steamer our again! Check out our video on how to remove wallpaper to see this in action.

Wallpaper steamers use hot steam to break down wallpaper paste, making it much easier to prise the paper from the wall. It works by heating up water and then channeling the steam through a funnel, which you can then aim at the walls.

We’re now going to tell you exactly how to use a wallpaper steamer to strip your walls, so you can get to the fun part of redecorating.

1Determine what kind of wallpaper you have

Depending on whether your wallpaper is porous or non-porous, you might need to carry out some prep work before using the steamer. Porous wallpaper includes types like lining paper, flock, embossed and unpainted woodchip. These types of paper don’t require any kind of prep, and you can get to work on them right away.

Non-porous wallpaper includes vinyl and washable paper, which steam won’t be able to soak into. To solve this, use a craft knife to score the paper in horizontal strips from top to bottom. Don’t press too hard - you want to cut into the paper but not badly damage the wall beneath. Perforating the wallpaper in this way will allow you to use the steamer effectively.

2Prepare the room

Before starting to use your wallpaper steamer, clear your room of furniture and lay down dust sheets to protect your flooring. Cover light switches and sockets with masking tape to shield them from any water spills.

Take down any pictures from the walls and make sure nails and hooks have been removed.

3Set up the wallpaper steamer

A wallpaper steamer operates something like a big kettle. Place it on a flat surface, unscrew the lid and fill it with clean water. Then, plug it in and wait for the water to boil. Once steam starts coming out of the plate, you’re ready to go!

4Hold the plate against the wall

Starting at the top, hold the plate against the wall. Begin by holding it there for around 15 seconds - if the paper still holds fast to the wall after this, reapply the plate for another 10-15 seconds. Keep doing this until the paper becomes damp and easy to peel away from the wall.

If you come to any tight or awkward areas, such as around a plug socket or beneath a radiator, switch to the smaller plate that ought to be provided with your wallpaper steamer. These are great for getting around corners and tackling hard-to-reach spots.

Top Tip

Make sure to work in short bursts. If you hold the plate against the paper for too long, you risk damaging the wall underneath.

5Strip the wallpaper

Use a stripping knife to get beneath the loosened paper and strip it from the wall. Keep the knife as flat as possible to avoid gouging too deeply and causing damage.

Tidy as you go!

It’s important to clear away the stripped wallpaper quickly - if it’s left on the floor to dry, it will likely stick to itself and the dust sheets. Have a bin liner handy as you work so you can immediately dispose of the paper.

Want to learn more about wallpaper and home decorating? Check out our guide on wallpaper lining and how to clean wallpaper.