How to Remove Foil Wallpaper

Andrea Lott Haney

Foil wallpaper has a shiny metallic surface attached to the adhesive paper backing that is installed on the wall. Homeowners choose foil wallpaper for its durability and washability, but it also makes it more challenging to remove.

Because the foil surface resists moisture, loosening the adhesive with moisture presents an obstacle in its removal. Whether removing foil wallpaper from drywall or plaster walls, do so in careful steps, trying various alternatives to prevent wall damage.


Rent a wallpaper steamer instead of purchasing one for short-term use.

  1. Unscrew and remove all switch plates, outlet covers, vents and other wall accessories in the room. Turn off all electricity in the room.

  2. Inspect the room to find a loose spot where the foil wallpaper is peeling. Using a fingernail or putty knife, start peeling the foil coating off the paper backing, restarting in another spot whenever necessary. Look for areas to start the peeling, around holes like outlets or doorways. Peel as much of the foil coating off by hand as possible. Your goal is to have a completely white paper wall at this stage, but a few bits of the foil may remain.

  3. Score the entire wall using the wallpaper scorer.

  4. Pour warm water into a bucket with a sponge. Using the sponge, dampen a small area near the floor on the scored wall and allow the water to soak into the paper. Try removing a small amount of paper using the putty knife. If the paper comes off easily, you can use the bucket of warm water to remove paper from the entire room, refreshing the water as needed to warm or clean it. If it does not come off easily, see Step 5.

  5. Add a small amount of wallpaper remover to the bucket of water. Sponge the diluted wallpaper remover onto a small area of the wall near the floor. Let it sit for about five minutes or longer, according to the manufacturer's instructions, but do not allow the spot to dry. Using the putty knife, try to remove the moistened paper. If the paper comes off easily, remove the rest of the paper using the diluted wallpaper remover and putty knife. If it does not come off easily, see Step 6.

  6. Apply wallpaper remover directly a small portion of the wall near the floor using a spray bottle or sponge. Allow it to sit for the manufacturer's recommended time, but do not allow it to dry. Try removing a small amount of the moistened paper using the putty knife. If the paper removes easily, remove the rest of the wallpaper using the wallpaper remover applied directly to the wall and the putty knife. If it does not remove easily, see Step 7.

  7. Use a wallpaper steamer to steam the wall while a second person follows with a putty knife, carefully scraping the wallpaper off the wall. Generally, using a wallpaper steamer is a last resort because of the strenuousness of that task and because the steam could damage the walls. Go slowly at this stage to prevent as much wall damage as possible.