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How much will it cost to remove wallpaper?

Written by David | October 10, 2019

A few months ago a homeowner and a realtor called to ask that very question.

Today’s topic is…How much will it cost to remove wallpaper at our house?  That is a tricky question to answer over the phone.

Hey! I’m David Cook, owner of D’franco Painting & Wallpaper, with another blog article to help you to answer questions about paint, wallpaper, wallpaper removal and cabinet refinishing.

Why is wallpaper removal cost a difficult question to answer over the phone?

  • How old is the wallpaper?
  • How old is the home?
  • Does anyone know how the wallpaper was installed?
  • What kind of wallpaper is it?
  • Are there any special issues that we need to know about?

Can you just tell me how much it will cost to remove wallpaper?!

No. Aside from the questions above, we really need to come out to the home and see what we are looking at. In this particular home, there were several factors that played into the estimate:

  • All the walls and ceilings had wallpaper on them. Some of the photos are evident, some are more subtle.
  • The approximate date of the wallpaper installation was 1972.
  • All of the walls were plaster.
  • The wallpaper was bulging in several locations, indicating plaster falling off the walls.
  • There was no accurate way of knowing what was under the wallpaper, or if it would even come off.
entire room of wallpaper - removing wallpaper

An entire room of wallpaper.

stairwell wallpaper removal

Stairwell Wallpaper

staircase wallpaper - cost to remove wallpaper

Entrance staircase of wallpaper.

How do we estimate cost for wallpaper removal?

Normally, we figure about $0.95 per square foot to remove wallpaper. Removing commercial wallpaper can cost a little more. There tends to be more damage to walls and disposing of commercial wallpaper is a little extra in cost.  There are some basic fees. For example, it will cost you at least $400.00, that is our basic fee to come out and perform these services.  (employee pay, employee benefits, taxes, workman’s comp…it adds up fast)

The “but” in wallpaper removal is that we don’t know how it was applied or what we will find when we start the removal process. In the example here, we had to tell them it would be at least 5 hours per room. Anything over that time would be a time and material fee.  I do not like doing this, however, because we cannot maintain our schedule. Both for this job and for the other customers we have.

What are some hidden costs associated with removing wallpaper?

As I stated above, commercial wallpaper will usually have wall damage when removing the old wall coverings. (You can read a blog post we did about commercial wallpaper here.) In a home you don’t really know without playing with the wallpaper that is being removed. If the walls were primed correctly, removal can be a very simple and easy process; pull it off and clean the wall.

In this project, when we pulled the wallpaper:

  • There were places that had the original adhesive, which flaked off right away.
  • Some walls had repair adhesive (kind of like super glue) which did not want to come off the walls.
  • Several areas that when we pulled the wallpaper from the walls, layers of paint and plaster came with it.
  • We also had areas that sections of plaster came off with it, leaving holes.
  • In the kitchen and bathroom, the walls leached oil and grease into the plaster walls, leaving stains.
  • The hallways were so dirty and smoke stained, that the walls had been actually imprinted with the design of the wallpaper. It bled into the plaster!
wall damage from wallpaper removal

Wall damage from wallpaper removal.

With all of these issues came extra costs that we had to notify the homeowner of before we could really do some of the work. Plaster repairs, oil primers, and skim coating walls to name the top 3.

So what did it cost to remove the wallpaper?

I can’t put the total cost here, but I will say the repairs to the damaged walls over doubled the original estimate. There were locations that once the wall was repaired, as we rolled on primer, other locations would crack or break. (After 40 years of never being painted, you have to expect problems.) Our crew and I felt like it would never end. But it did!

bathroom painted and repaired

Bathroom all painted and repaired.

wallpaper removed - walls cabinets painted

Wallpaper removed, walls and cabinets painted!

new plaster walls - removing wallpaper cost

Plaster walls look new.

plaster holes gone

Plaster holes are gone.

I hope that answers a few questions about wallpaper removal and the hidden costs to remove wallpaper. Don’t be afraid! We were upfront as possible which did scare the homeowner, but I am glad we gave some worst case scenarios instead of telling them it would be easy as 1,2,3. Full transparency and honesty is important! Call or email us now…Let us know if you have any questions about removing wallpaper cost (even plaster repairs) for your home or office!

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