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How Much Does Wallpaper Removal Cost?

Uncovering Costs: How Much Does Wallpaper Removal Cost?

Determining the cost to remove wallpaper involves various factors, making it a complex process. The main elements that influence wallpaper removal costs provide a general cost range to help you estimate the potential expenses for your wallpaper removal project. 

Prices typically range from $1 to $4 per square foot, depending on the condition of the old wallpaper, the type of wall, such as plaster walls, and whether you choose a professional wallpaper removal service. Understanding these costs is essential for anyone planning to remove wallpaper.

Factors Affecting Wallpaper Removal Cost


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When planning to remove wallpaper, it’s important to consider several key factors that can influence the overall cost of the project. These factors include the type of wallpaper, removal method, wall material, room size, ceiling height, and the wall’s condition and age.

Wallpaper Type

The type of existing wallpaper impacts removal costs. Strippable or porous wallpaper is generally easier and less time consuming to detach than non-porous wallpapers. On the other hand, older wallpaper made of paper with starch-based adhesives may be harder to remove than modern two-ply vinyl wallpapers, potentially increasing labor costs.

Removal Method

Different removal methods, such as stripping wallpaper, steaming wallpaper, or using a putty knife for soaking and scraping, can affect the removal costs. Typically, the faster the wallpaper removal process, the less expensive it is, as labor costs are reduced.

Wall Material

The wall material, whether plaster or drywall, significantly impacts the removal costs. Plaster walls are more resilient against moisture, which can be beneficial during the removal process. In contrast, drywall requires careful handling to prevent wall damage, potentially increasing preparation and repair costs.

Room Size and Ceiling Height

Room size and ceiling height are crucial factors in determining removal costs. Larger rooms or those with high ceilings necessitate more labor, and the use of ladders or scaffolding, which can increase the overall expense.

Wall Condition and Age

The condition and age of the wall underneath the wallpaper also play a significant role in the removal costs. Issues like water damage or remnants of old adhesives can make removal more time consuming and require extensive repairs, thus increasing the cost. When all the paper has been removed, any significant wall damage must be addressed before applying new wallpaper or any other wall treatment.


Wallpaper Removal Cost Breakdown

Breaking down the costs of wallpaper removal into labor, materials, and disposal fees helps you plan your budget more effectively. Each component contributes to the overall wallpaper removal cost, which can vary significantly depending on the scope of the project and the rate charged per square foot.

Labor Costs

The cost of removing wallpaper primarily depends on labor. Professional painting contractors usually charge based on the wallpaper type and the complexity of the job. Rates can vary, but they typically reflect the amount of time and effort required to strip strippable wallpaper or to handle more challenging surfaces like bare drywall that may sound hollow or need a skim coat after removal.

Materials and Tools

The material costs for a wallpaper removal project include the supplies necessary for the removal process. These might range from simple tools like scrapers and sponges to more specialized equipment if the diy project approach isn’t suitable. Purchasing these materials can add a significant amount to the total cost of the project.

Disposal Fees

After removing the wallpaper, disposing of the waste is another cost factor. Depending on your location and the amount of wallpaper removed, disposal fees can vary. These costs cover the safe and environmentally friendly disposal of old wallpaper and any excess materials from the project.


Related Readings: How Much Does a Mural Cost: A Comprehensive Guide to Pricing


Cost to Remove Wallpaper by Wall Type

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Different wall materials can significantly affect the cost of removing wallpaper. Here are the typical costs associated with removing wallpaper from drywall and plaster walls.


  • Specific challenges

Drywall is susceptible to damage when removing wallpaper, which can complicate the process.

  • Associated costs

The cost of removing wallpaper from drywall typically ranges from $1.50 to $3.00 per square foot. This cost can increase if extensive repairs are necessary due to the tearing of the drywall.

Plaster Walls

  • Cost differences

Plaster walls are more durable and can handle more rigorous removal techniques than drywall.

  • Associated costs

Removing wallpaper from plaster walls generally costs between $2.00 to $4.00 per square foot. The higher cost reflects the additional labor required to deal with potentially thicker adhesives and the age of the wall material.


Wallpaper Removal Methods

Each wallpaper removal method has distinct costs associated with it, depending on the tools and techniques used. Here’s how the costs break down for different approaches:.


Using steamers to remove wallpaper, particularly older wallpaper, often involves renting or purchasing a steaming unit. This method might cost around $1.50 per square foot, depending on factors like ceiling height and the necessity for tall ladders or scaffolding to reach higher areas.

Chemical Strippers

Chemical strippers can be an effective way to tackle tough wallpaper. These might be mixed with substances like fabric softener and applied with a spray bottle. While the chemicals themselves may not be very expensive, the need for protective gear and proper ventilation can add to the overall cost.

Manual Scraping

Manual scraping is a cost-effective option for those on a tight budget. It requires simple tools like scoring tools and a manual scraper. This method can be quite labor-intensive but avoids the higher costs associated with steamers and chemical solutions.

Soaking and Scraping

Soaking and scraping is another method that involves saturating the wallpaper with a liquid solution—often a mix that includes fabric softener—in a spray bottle. This method typically costs between $1 to $3 per square foot. It is labor-intensive, requiring substantial time and effort, especially if the wallpaper is thick or has multiple layers, making it necessary to soak and scrape repeatedly.

Removing Wallpaper: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional

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Deciding whether to undertake wallpaper removal jobs yourself or to hire a professional depends on understanding the costs and benefits associated with each option. Careful consideration of both approaches can guide you toward making a choice that suits your budget and your project’s requirements.

DIY Costs

If you decide to remove wallpaper yourself, the costs primarily involve purchasing the materials needed. These can include scrapers, solvents, and potentially renting a steamer. For most homeowners, the expense will depend on the size of the wall and the type of wallpaper. Removing wallpaper from unprimed drywall or high ceilings might require special tools, increasing the cost.

Professional Service Costs

Hiring a professional for wallpaper removal usually brings an additional cost but comes with benefits like efficiency and expertise, especially for complex situations like vaulted ceilings or delicate walls. Most contractors offer additional services such as minor wall repairs and disposal of old materials, which can justify the higher price for the whole job. This option is attractive for those who value a quick and high-quality outcome.

Additional Considerations for Wallpaper Removal

When planning wallpaper removal, several factors beyond just peeling off the old wallpaper need consideration. These factors can significantly affect the overall cost and efficiency of the project.

Room Preparation

Proper room preparation is essential to protect floors and furniture from damage during the wallpaper removal process. Covering these areas might involve additional costs, especially in rooms with complex shapes or tight spaces where maneuvering and covering can be more labor-intensive, potentially increasing the hourly rate of the wallpaper removal service.

Wall Repair and Skimming

After removing old wallpaper, especially if there are several layers or it is non-porous, the walls may need repairs. Skimming to smooth out stubborn areas can add to the wallpaper removal costs. The cost of labor increases with the extent of damage and the complexity of the repairs needed.

Wall Painting

Once the wallpaper is removed, you might want to paint the walls. This adds to the cost but provides a fresh look. Homeowners can decide to paint the room themselves, which can save money, or hire professionals, which ensures quality but at a higher cost.

New Wallpaper Installation

Installing new wallpaper is another cost to consider if you decide to refresh the room’s look. Like painting, this can be a DIY project or done by a professional. The choice affects the overall wallpaper removal cost per square foot and the quality of the final appearance.

Time Constraints

Time limitations can also influence wallpaper removal costs. If the job needs to be completed quickly, it may require more resources or a larger crew, increasing the overall cost. Extended hours of work might also affect the hourly rate charged by a wallpaper removal contractor.


Related readings: Expert Solutions for Wallpaper Repair and Maintenance



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The cost of wallpaper removal varies based on multiple factors, from the type of wallpaper—be it strippable wallpaper, porous wallpaper, or those requiring stripping wallpaper—to the condition of the underlying surfaces, such as drywall that might sound hollow or have tiny holes. The use of specialized tools like an electric steamer, scoring tool, or scraping tool, along with application techniques like skim coats for repairs, can significantly influence the total cost. 

Whether opting for the DIY route to potentially save money or hiring professionals capable of handling complex features like vaulted ceilings, the average costs can range around $1.50 per square foot but may vary greatly depending on costly repairs and the method used.

When considering the removal of old wallpaper and possibly updating with new wallpaper, it’s essential to evaluate both DIY and professional options. Each has its merits and costs, influenced by the scope and complexity of the job. Understanding these elements will help you make an informed decision that balances cost efficiency with the desired outcome of your renovation project.

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