How to Remove Multiple Layers of Wallpaper

Wallpaper is a wonderful design element for a home, and as with paint, at some point it will be time to give your home a fresh look. You will need to either paper over your existing wallpaper, or remove it completely before hanging new paper.

Almost everyone recommends removing the old wallpaper before installing new wallpaper and it can be a simple process if you use the right tools and techniques. What do you do if you discover there are multiple layers of wallpaper that have to be removed? You may be asking:

  • Is this still a DIY project?
  • Is it safe to remove multiple layers of wallpaper without damaging the walls?
  • Is there a way to find out how many layers of wallpaper I’m dealing with?

This article will answer all of these questions and show you how to safely tackle the process of removing 2 or more layers of wallpaper.

What Type Of Surface Is The Wallpaper Installed On?

It is important to know what type of surface you are working with because removing wallpaper means you will be applying moisture that will be absorbed by the wall structure that it is attached to. If the wall is plaster or paneling, these materials can absorb more water than drywall or gypsum board. Once wet, the paper face of drywall is easily damaged if care is not taken during the wallpaper removal.

How To Determine If You Have Drywall Or Something Else

The easiest way to see what type of wall structure you have is to remove a light switch or outlet cover on the wall (make sure that you have turned off the power first). Once removed, you can count the layers of wallpaper and see if the wall substrate is drywall, plaster or wood.

Gather The Right Tools And Supplies

Removing wallpaper doesn’t require a lot of special tools, but you need to make sure you have the correct items.  Collect these tools and items before you start to get the job done right the first time.

  • Drop cloths
  • Step ladder
  • Trash bags to dispose of old wallpaper
  • Small bucket of water and sponge
  • PIRANHA Scoring Tool – Contains small sharp wheels that puncture the surface of the wallpaper
  • PIRANHA Wallpaper Scraper – Has a perfectly-honed blade that is preset to the best angle to remove wallpaper without damaging the wall
  • PIRANHA Gel Wallpaper Remover – A no-drip formula that keeps the remover on the wall longer, making it very effective in taking off hard to remove wallpaper.

Start Stripping The Wallpaper From The Walls

The most straight-forward, efficient, and economical method for removing old wallpaper is with a liquid remover. The remover does the hard work and eliminates much of the hard scraping – even when removing multiple layers of wallpaper.

It is always recommended to start the process with a test area to be able to look for any problems.

  • Using the scoring tool, roll it over an area about 2’ square. Do not apply too much pressure.  You only need to score 1 layer at a time.
  • Spray gel remover over the area, keeping it moist – not soaked.
  • Allow 15 minutes for the gel to dissolve the old adhesive.
  • Start at an edge and peel off the old paper.  It should come off easily and will give you an idea of how well the paper had adhered to the layers below it. You may find that all the layers come off at the same time which will be much easier. If not, be patient and repeat this process for each layer until you reach the actual wall surface. 

Once the test area has been removed, you will have a good idea of how you will need to proceed with the rest of the removal process. Continue scoring, spraying and scraping until complete.

Here are some additional helpful tips:

  • Turn off electricity to the room you are spraying in.
  • Work in sections about 4’ wide so the remover doesn’t dry out.
  • Turn off fans and air vents to avoid drying the remover out.

Preparing The Wall For New Wallpaper

Once all of the old wallpaper has been removed, allow the walls to dry for at least 24 hours.  Now you can begin the process of preparing to install new wallpaper.

  • Repair any damaged wall surfaces.
  • Sand the walls smooth and wipe clean with lightly dampened sponge.
  • Allow another 24 hours for the walls to dry.
  • Apply a high-quality primer to the wall before hanging the new paper.

The Best Source For Wallpaper Removal Supplies

ROMAN Products is a leading manufacturer of wallpaper primers, adhesives, and removal products. We have created many industry-leading products that homeowners, contractors, and professional wallpaper installers have depended on for over 75 years.

Our products are available in stores throughout the U.S., as well as around the world, through our distributors. Contact us today to speak with one of our experienced customer service staff to answer your questions on all things wallpaper.