How to Remove Wallpaper from Plaster Walls

Regardless of how beautiful the old wallpaper is in your home, at some point you will want to give your walls a new look. If the wallpaper is loose and in poor condition, you will NEED to remove it in order to provide the best surface for installing the new paper. 

The thought of removing old wallpaper can give some folks nightmares, and stripping wallpaper from plaster walls requires extra patience to make sure the project runs smoothly and with minimal damage.  

If you use the techniques suggested in this article, the old paper will come off easily and you’ll be ready to hang your new wallpaper in no time.

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. The old way of getting the wall wet and scraping the paper off will leave your plaster walls crumbling.  

Gather these tools before you start, and get the job done right and fast.

  • Drop cloths
  • Step ladder
  • Trash bags to dispose of old wallpaper
  • Small bucket of water and sponge
  • PIRANHA Wallpaper 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 in order  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 Plaster Walls

The most straightforward, efficient, and economical method for removing old wallpaper from plaster walls is to use a liquid remover. The remover does the hard work and eliminates much of the hard scraping.

It is always recommended to start the process with a test area to anticipate any problems beneath the wallpaper.

  • Using the scoring tool, roll it over an area about 2’ square.
  • Spray gel remover over the area, keeping it moist but 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, which will give you an idea of how well the paper was adhered to the wall.  If the wallpaper does not want to easily come away from the plaster, do not force it.  Spray again, wait 15 minutes, and attempt to remove the paper again.

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 the electricity to the room you are spraying in.
  • Work in sections 4’ wide, so the remover doesn’t dry out.

Turn off fans and air vents to the work area to avoid drying the remover out.

What To Do If The Plaster Wall Starts Crumbling

A potential issue with old plaster is damaging the wall while removing the paper.  The removal solution will be absorbed by the paper and the wall, which can soften the surface.  Damp plaster can be gouged if you are not careful. Take your time when using the scraper and keep it at a low angle to the wall to prevent it from digging in.

Preparing A Plaster Wall For New Wallpaper

After the plaster has been allowed to dry for at least 24 hours, you can begin the process of prepping the walls to install new wallpaper.

  • Repair any damaged plaster.
  • Sand walls smooth and wipe clean with lightly dampened sponge.
  • Allow an additional 24 hours for the plaster to dry.

Apply A Primer To The Wall

  • Apply a professional grade wallpaper primer to the plaster.  The purpose of the primer is to seal the wall and provide a clean surface for the wallpaper adhesive to attach to. The wallpaper is supposed to attach to the adhesive, not to the wall.

ROMAN’s PRO-999 Rx-35 Sealer/Primer has been developed to seal porous surfaces like plaster, and will ensure that the new wallpaper sticks to the adhesive, rather than to the wall itself. This makes installation easier, and  it will also make removal easier in the future.

The Best Source For Wallpaper Removal Supplies

ROMAN Products is a leading manufacturer of wallpaper primers, adhesives and removal products. For over 75 years we have been creating industry-leading products that homeowners, contractors and professional wallpaper installers depend on.

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.