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If you’re targeting dated, damaged, or dirty wallpaper in your next home renovation project, you’ll need some help from a wallpaper remover. These tools and solvents are intended to make easy work out of loosening and stripping old wallpaper.
A basic set of tools for removing wallpaper will typically include a scoring wheel, a scraper, and a solvent for tough adhesives or to accelerate the process. Other options for wallpaper removers include steam cleaners, which offer a faster chemical-free way to loosen wallpaper adhesive.
Here are the best wallpaper removers to help save time (and your fingernails).
Best Solvent: WP Chomp World’s Best Wallpaper Stripper
WP Chomp's citrus solvent is a go-to choice among many, widely praised for its ability to transform the tedious task into a quick spray-and-peel session. This ready-to-use wallpaper solvent is effective on all types of wallpaper, including vinyl, strippable, or removable wall coverings. The key is to ensure that you score the wall first, then thoroughly saturate the area with this wallpaper remover solvent. You can purchase the formula in a spray bottle to make the application super simple and mess-free.
WP Chomp claims to have a formula with as much as five times the level of active ingredients as compared to other wallpaper solvents on the market. The result? Fast dissolving times and quick results—which is key if you have a lot of square footage to cover. Yet despite its power, this bio-enzymatic formula has a soft citrus scent that won’t overwhelm the room or offend your senses as you remove even large areas of wallpaper.
Best Budget Solvent: Zinsser DIF Wallpaper Stripper Concentrate
This concentrated solvent from DIF is a basic wallpaper stripper that will dissolve adhesive and soften paper, paving the way for a smooth transition to bare walls. This concentrate will need to be diluted before application, with each 22-ounce bottle yielding two gallons of stripping solution.
You’ll still need to put in some work when using this budget wallpaper remover solvent, though. Consider pairing it with a scoring tool and a scraping tool to supplement your efforts.
Best Scraper: Husky 4 in. Soft Grip Wall Paper Stripper
An essential tool for wallpaper removal, a scraper will save your fingernails from hours of peeling back soggy paper. Though a variety of instruments (including a putty knife) can be used to scrape wallpaper, Husky's Soft Grip Wall Paper Stripper is the ideal tool for the job. This scraper features a replaceable blade securely held in place with a patented blade lock system, with the added advantage of tool-free blade changes.
Designed with a 4-inch soft-grip handle, this wallpaper scraper is comfortable to hold and offers a safe, secure way to use the razor-sharp blade to peel back wallpaper. The long handle provides additional leverage and also proves useful when working on hard-to-reach areas like high ceilings or behind a radiator.
Best Scoring Tool: Zinsser DIF Paper Tiger Scoring Tool
If you're using a wallpaper removal solvent, scoring is a necessary step to ensure that the liquid fully penetrates the wallpaper. It's especially important for vinyl-coated or professionally installed wallpapers, which are often harder to just rip off.
Easy to use and convenient to hold, the Paper Tiger Scoring Tool will make a great addition to your project. This is largely thanks to its dual interlocking wheels, which have small metal teeth designed to perforate wallpaper. It's a big upgrade from the often-recommended method of puncturing wallpaper with a fork, which can be time-consuming and do damage to drywall.
The Paper Tiger is a winner for its easy-to-hold ergonomic design. While this round wallpaper remover tool can be a little tricky to use in corners, it does a great job of perforating large areas of wallpaper quickly. Simply apply pressure and glide the wheels across the wall for a trail of tiny holes that will increase the saturation of wallpaper remover solution.
Best Steamer: Wagner Spraytech 915 On-Demand Steamer
Steam cleaners are often put to good use as wallpaper removers, and for good reason: with just the power of warm air, a steam cleaner can loosen adhesive and lift wallpaper—all without the use of chemicals. A well-equipped model, like the Wagner Spraytech 915, is an essential household tool that you can easily adapt to remove wallpaper from plaster or drywall.
While this cleaner includes various attachments for different household cleaning tasks, you’ll be most interested in the wallpaper steam plate. As you might guess, this plate can be pressed directly against your walls to loosen the paper. For floor-to-ceiling jobs, the 8-foot steam hose (and two extension tubes) will also prove useful. The pressurized water tank holds 48 ounces, giving you about 45 minutes of active steam. While this might mean making a few rounds with the steamer for wallpaper removal, it's worth the wait for a chemical-free experience.
Best Budget Steamer: Wagner Spraytech 715 Wallpaper Steamer
If you’re looking for an affordable steam cleaner optimized for use as a wallpaper remover, this budget model is a good pick. The included accessories are limited to steam plates, with an 8 x 11-inch version and a smaller 3 x 6-inch version for tight spaces.
A 12-foot hose gives you extended reach when using this steam cleaner, but there are no extension wands—so you may need a step stool or ladder to reach the upper edges of your walls. However, with a large tank capable of producing up to 70 minutes of steam, you’ll get plenty of working time out of this budget steamer as you steam and soften wallpaper and its adhesive backing.
Best Glue Remover: Roman's Piranha Liquid Wallpaper Remover
When it comes to taking down old wallpaper, you need to deal with both the paper and the adhesive. Some processes might bring the paper down quickly but leave behind a gooey mess. Roman's Piranha Liquid Wallpaper Remover is made with that issue in mind, easily dissolving wallpaper adhesives to give you a clean, smooth surface. Its spray bottle means it's ready to use from the get-go, so you won't waste any time mixing solutions or prepping supplies.
Note that the 32-ounce bottle is enough to cover 75 square feet of wall space, so you might want to stock up on a few bottles for larger areas like your living room or attic.
Best for Vinyl: WP Chomp Wallpaper Scorer Remover Tool
Due to its thicker construction and two-layer application, vinyl is one of the harder wall coverings to remove. Here, you'll have to remove both the layer of textured vinyl and the paper backing underneath—a task which not all solvents or removers are up to. It's also important to score the vinyl before beginning the removal process.
WP Chomp's Wallpaper Scorer Remover is one option that is fit for the challenge. This tool includes dual cutting wheels that are made of tempered steel for added strength and durability. Its compact size makes it easy to get into tighter areas, while the ergonomic design helps reduce fatigue.
Our top pick is WP Chomp World's Best Wallpaper Stripper (view at Amazon), which is an effective and convenient solvent that works on any type of wallpaper, including vinyl. If you have a few different needs (or are just looking to save time), we'd recommend the Wallwik Simple Strip Wallpaper Removal Kit (view at Amazon). It comes with everything you'll need to complete your project, including a scoring tool, solvent and a skimmer.
What to Look for in a Wallpaper Remover
Type of Tool
You may need to use a combination of tool types to remove wallpaper. The most common options are a steamer, scraper, and scoring tool. While the steamer uses hot water to loosen wallpaper glue, the other tools are typically used in combination with a wallpaper stripping solution.
Drywall or Plaster Walls
When choosing the right wallpaper remover, you should start by identifying whether your walls are plaster or drywall. Drywall more readily absorbs moisture and is more prone to damage from a scraping tool, so extra caution is needed to avoid oversaturating the wall or using excessive force when stripping the wallpaper.
Wallpaper type is another factor to consider when deciding on tools for removing wall coverings. Vinyl, foil-finish, or water-resistant wallpaper will be more impermeable, making it harder for wallpaper stripping solution or steamers to loosen the adhesive backing. If that's your situation, you'll need a plan that includes using a wallpaper scoring tool to allow the solution or steam to penetrate beneath the wallpaper. Strippable or temporary wallpaper is much easier to remove; it can usually be accomplished with a steamer or basic wallpaper remover solution.
Do I need to wash walls after removing wallpaper?
After removing wallpaper, you should wash your walls to remove any remaining adhesive that may cause problems when you try to paint the wall. Wallpaper adhesive can become clumpy underneath water-based latex paint or it may cause the paint to chip or crack.
How long does it take to remove wallpaper?
When removing wallpaper using a liquid stripper, it's recommended that you work in 2-foot by 2-foot sections. For each section, you'll need to let the solution soak the wallpaper for at least 5 minutes before you can begin scraping. So to determine how long it will take to remove wallpaper in a room, calculate the square footage of the walls, then divide it by 4 to figure out how many sections you have to work. Multiply this number by 5 to find out how many minutes you'll be waiting on the solution. This will give you a starting point of how long the project will take, although the actual time you'll spend scraping off the wallpaper can vary.
How do you smooth walls after removing wallpaper?
After taking down old wallpaper, you may have some nicks or imperfections in the drywall, often caused by the scraping tool used to remove the paper and glue. A skim coat of drywall joint compound can be applied to make your walls smooth again.