Removing wallpaper can be a challenge. Professional painters and other types of interior contractors who have the skills and equipment can help. The cost to have wallpaper professionally removed varies based on the size of the room—or how much square footage the paper is covering—the type of wallpaper being removed and the condition of the wall underneath the paper. Many pros can also prep the walls to receive another surface treatment, such as paint or new wallpaper. This task usually incurs another per-square-foot charge. Perre Quiroga of JJQ Services in Orlando, Florida, typically charges $1.50 per square foot to remove wallpaper, with certain issues—such as extra time required to remove very old wallpaper—adding to the cost.
Stewart Lee of Custom Wallcoverings in Stafford, Virginia, estimates wallpaper removal jobs in the same way as wallpaper installation: based on how many rolls of wallpaper it would take to re-cover the walls. Lee charges a base fee of $20–$25 per roll for removal and estimates that a medium-sized room needs eight to 12 rolls. That’s a total of $160–$300 per room. Lee’s hourly rate is about $40 If there are extenuating circumstances that prolong a job, clients may end up paying for additional time.
Room size and ceiling height
High ceilings in wallpapered rooms add to removal costs because there is more paper to take off and extra time required to set up ladders and equipment to reach the top of the walls. Here are some common size ranges of rooms to help with wallpaper removal cost estimates. Most contractors charge 60 cents to $1.50 per square foot:
Foyer: 36–120 square feet, $21.60–$180
Powder room: 16–36 square feet, $9.60–$54
Living or dining room: 120–252 square feet, $72–$378
Family room: 192–384 square feet, $115.20–$576
Bedroom: 100–224 square feet, $60–$336
Guest bath: 45–84 square feet, $27–$126
Master bedroom: 168–384 square feet, $100.80–$576
Master bath: 54–160 square feet, $32.40–$240
Quiroga of JJQ Services charges $1.50 per square foot for wallpaper removal, which includes adding a skim coat to the wall to create a smooth surface for painting or repapering.
Older wallpaper is made of just paper adhered to the wall with adhesive, which is usually starch-based and designed to provide a mechanical bond between the wallcovering and the wall surface. This wallpaper can be more difficult (that is, take longer) to remove than some of the more modern, two-ply vinyl wallpapers.
The cost to remove paper doesn’t necessarily change based on the removal technique used, though the quicker the job, the lower the cost. Dry-stripping, which is just pulling the paper off the wall like peeling off a strip of tape, is the most affordable because it is the fastest. Another way to remove wallpaper is to soak it in a solution of warm water and solvent using a sponge, then scrape it off with a putty knife.Sometimes the wallpaper is scored before soaking to that ensure the solvent gets between the paper and adhesive layer. For very tough-to-remove wallpaper, streaming it off may be necessary, which will add to the cost as well.
Wall condition and material
The condition of a wall and the material directly underneath the wallpaper may also affect the total cost. Plaster walls can stand up better to moisture, so they tend to do better when the wallpaper is removed using the solvent or steam methods. Drywall is softer than plaster and doesn’t hold up as well in direct contact with moisture, so a wallpaper removal specialist may need to do some additional preparation—possibly sanding to remove any remaining wallpaper adhesive or applying a skim coat of plaster, or both.