How to Remove Your Plastic Wallpaper

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Stripping wallpaper can be frustrating without the right tools.
Stripping wallpaper can be frustrating without the right tools. (Image: Gary Houlder/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Plastic or vinyl wallpaper is among the most durable types. It protects the wall material, providing a thick barrier, and is easily cleaned with a damp cloth. Due to its thickness and lack of porosity, it can be one of the most difficult types of wallpaper to remove. Instead of simply applying a wallpaper remover or steam, you must take additional steps to remove plastic wallpaper.

Things You'll Need

  • Wallpaper scoring tool
  • Wallpaper steamer
  • Putty knives
  • Wallpaper remover
  • Repair putty such as drywall mud or wood putty (depending on the surface under the paper)

Score the wallpaper with a scoring tool. Rub the tool all over the wallpaper. It will create holes, allowing for the steam or wallpaper remover to soak into the paper.

Apply steam to the wallpaper, pressing the steamer plate to the wall. This will help loosen the glue underneath the vinyl. Start at the top of each section of wall and work your way to the floor.

Peel off the top layer of plastic or vinyl, if possible. The steam may have been enough to allow the vinyl to separate from the paste layer underneath, and the vinyl may come off easily in sheets.

Scrape the paper and paste away with a putty knife. Apply more steam if necessary and keep scraping. This can be tedious, but all the glue will need to come off for paint to adhere.

Apply a chemical-based wallpaper remover if the vinyl coating still does not come off. You could substitute this step for steaming if you are comfortable with chemical use.

Allow the remover to sit on the wall and dissolve the glue, following any instructions included in the packaging.

Scrape the wallpaper and glue with a putty knife. Once finished, patch any gouges or divots with putty and finish as desired.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear gloves when working with a chemical wallpaper remover.

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