Wallpaper removers come in a variety of types and are essential for removing dated, damaged, or dirty wallpaper that no longer fits your vision for a space.
When considering what you may need to start this project, Carol Miller at York Wallcoverings suggests, "Basic is better. Tools and supplies such as a scoring tool, a scraper, chemical wallpaper stripper, a bucket, and a bottle mister should do the job for most removal projects. Removal does not have to be expensive."
We researched dozens of wallpaper removers and evaluated them on ease of use, effectiveness, and value. Our top recommendation is the Roman's Wallpaper and Paste Removal Kit. It includes everything you need to get started and is affordable and effective.
Here are the best wallpaper removers to help save time (and your fingernails).
Best Overall: Roman’s Wallpaper and Paste Removal Kit
Includes solution and tools
Removes up to 1,500 square feet of wallpaper
Scoring tool features four blades and won’t gouge drywall
Solution has a strong odor
If you’re ready to take on the task of wallpaper removal, the Roman’s Wallpaper and Paste Removal Kit is designed to be your go-to solution. This three-piece kit includes some of the most effective wallpaper removers, including a scoring tool, scraper, and chemical concentrate to loosen adhesive. We recommend this kit as the best wallpaper remover, since you’ll have the basic tools you need, along with enough concentrate to strip up to 1,500 square feet of wallpaper.
The Roman’s Wallpaper and Paste Removal Kit is suitable for use on a wide variety of wallpaper types, including vinyl, paper, non-woven, grass cloth, and pre-pasted varieties. It is especially handy If you don’t know which type of wallpaper you have or if you have many different types of layers. The scoring tool has four wheels set at the right angle to perforate wallpaper without damaging drywall. Perforation is important for allowing the Piranha Liquid Wallpaper Remover formula to penetrate below the surface of the wallpaper, where it can loosen the adhesive binding the wallpaper to the wall.
One of the unique aspects of this kit is the fact that the scraper is designed to be ergonomic and steady, thanks to a unique roller handle. The wide blade makes quick work of lifting old wallpaper, while the roller gives the tool better gliding action as you work across large areas.
Price at time of publish: $23
Best Budget : Zinsser DIF Wallpaper Stripper Concentrate
Covers up to 600 square feet of wallpaper
Enzyme formula to dissolve adhesives
May need to apply multiple times
Affordable and effective in most scenarios, DIF Wallpaper Stripper Concentrate costs less than $10. This 22-ounce bottle makes 2 gallons of wallpaper-stripping solution, enough to tackle 600 square feet of wallpaper. It has a detectable chemical odor, but that is to be expected of just about any wallpaper stripper formula.
As anyone who has stripped wallpaper will tell you, the amount of effort you’ll need to put into the job varies based on the type and age of the wallpaper. Keep in mind that there are some tough situations where you may need to apply this DIF solution more than once before the adhesive gives way. However, most users find that this budget wallpaper remover, along with a basic scoring and scraping tool, is an effective, straightforward way to strip away wallpaper and adhesive.
Price at time of publish: $10
Best Steamer: Wagner 725 Wallpaper Steamer
Two sizes of steaming plates for large and small areas
24 feet of total reach
Lacks an on/off switch; must be unplugged
If you’re seeking a chemical-free wallpaper remover, consider a steamer. While you can use a variety of steam cleaning machines to loosen wallpaper adhesive, we recommend using one with steaming plates specifically designed for the task. The Wagner 725 Wallpaper Steamer is easy to use, thanks to a total reach of 24 feet and a large and small steaming plate for wallpaper.
The larger steam plate measures 8 x 11 inches and is good for covering more surface area in a single pass. The small 3 x 6-inch steam plate is valuable, too, since it’s great for accessing corners or tight spaces. Both steam plates easily connect to the 12-foot-long hose that is designed to remain cool to the touch. It has a 1.3-gallon water reservoir that powers steam production for up to two hours, making it useful for even large jobs. There is no on/off switch, so you’ll have to unplug the steamer if you want to take a break while working on the task.
Price at time of publish: $65
Best Scraper: WP CHOMP 52016 Wallpaper Scraping Tool
Blade can be replaced or sharpened
Angled to eliminate wall gouging
Tool can be used for other tasks
Limited availability of replacement blades
A wallpaper scraping tool is indispensable for removing layers of loosened wallpaper. The WP Chomp Wallpaper Scraping Tool is a popular pick for its dual-edge blade that gives you effective lifting action. We also recommend this wallpaper remover because the blades can be sharpened or replaced as needed. However, it’s worth noting that the availability of replacement blades is somewhat limited, leaving some people to buy a second tool instead of tracking down new blades.
The 4-inch-wide blade of the WP Chomp Wallpaper Scraping Tool is set at an angle that makes it better suited for skimming wallpaper off the surface of the wall, while minimizing the chances of digging into your drywall. Of course, your technique will also determine how successful you are at avoiding any drywall damage, but the design of this particular tool makes it easier to do than with a putty knife.
Price at time of publish: $13
Best Solvent: WP Chomp World’s Best Wallpaper Stripper
Enzymatic formula for increased effectiveness
Covers 100 square feet
Convenient spray application
There are plenty of options for homemade wallpaper strippers, but a ready-to-use formula offers you convenience and a tried-and-true way to dissolve the adhesive holding wallpaper in place. According to Carol Miller at York Wallcoverings, "Key to removal is the reactivation of the paste with moisture or a chemical stripper. Chemical liquid removers are created to work with the paste used for wallpaper installations. The legwork has been done for you!" One of the leading wallpaper remover solvents is WP Chomp World’s Best Wallpaper Stripper. Available in a 32-ounce spray bottle, you can conveniently apply the formula from top to bottom on your walls.
The key to success for this wallpaper remover solvent is its bio-enzymatic formula. The active ingredients target wallpaper glue and dissolve it. Keep in mind that you’ll need to prep the surface by using a scoring tool to perforate the wallpaper before soaking it with this solution. While the formula isn’t fragrance-free, it has a mild citrus scent that isn’t overpowering or offensive to most users.
Price at time of publish: $14
Best for Old Wallpaper: Zinsser Wallpaper Stripper Gel
Gel formula clings to walls for better saturation
No mixing or dilution required before use
Limited coverage area
Wallpaper that has been affixed to walls for years can pose special problems when it comes time to make a change. The adhesive may be tough to loosen, and the wallpaper may not strip away as easily as newer, strippable types of wallpaper. DIF Wallpaper Stripper Gel is a great option as a remover for old wallpaper that takes longer to remove, since it has a clingy gel formula that won’t easily run or drip off vertical surfaces.
Available in a 32-ounce spray bottle, you don’t need to do any mixing or measuring before getting to work with this wallpaper remover. The manufacturer recommends that you let the product stand on the surface for 15 minutes before proceeding to scrape away the old wallpaper with a scraping tool. Many people choose this gel-based formula because it maintains better contact with your work area. However, keep in mind that it has a blue tint. The manufacturer claims that it won’t stain walls or other surfaces, but it is best to wipe up any residual solution as you move from one area of the wall to the next.
Price at time of publish: $13
Best Glue Remover: Roman's Piranha Liquid Wallpaper Remover
Fragrance-free, ready-to-use formula
Won’t stain walls or baseboards
Limited coverage area of 75 square feet per bottle
In many cases, lifting the wallpaper is just the start of giving your wall a fresh look. It’s also important to remove wallpaper adhesive to complete the job. Many wallpaper solutions are capable of taking the task from start to finish, but we recommend Roman’s Piranha Liquid Wallpaper Remover. This clear formula won’t stain walls or baseboards and is effective in loosening wallpaper adhesives.
The 32-ounce spray bottle contains a ready-to-spray formula that you don’t need to dilute. It’s also unique because it’s free of heavy fragrances and chemical odors that can be off-putting to many people. After spritzing the wallpaper remover onto a scored surface, allow it to penetrate for 15 minutes before scraping away the paper and adhesive. If additional treatment is necessary to remove any remaining wallpaper glue, spray the formula directly on the wall. Let it soak for 15 minutes, and then use a sponge to remove the adhesive.
Price at time of publish: $8
Best for Vinyl: WP Chomp Wallpaper Scorer Remover Tool
Durable alloy steel wheels
Easy to use
Scores even thick wallpaper
Circular design makes it hard to get close to the edges of walls
An effective wallpaper remover for vinyl should perforate the surface of the thick material in order to allow wallpaper-stripping solution to penetrate. The WP Chomp Wallpaper Scorer is a simple, but effective, tool for the job. Designed to fit in the palm of your hand, it’s equipped with two alloy steel scoring wheels that leave a trail of small holes in the surface of even thick vinyl wallpaper.
The key to success when using this wallpaper-scoring tool is to let the wheels do the work. Start with light, even pressure, only increasing as needed to penetrate the surface of the wallpaper. Keep in mind that the circular nature of the tool makes it ergonomic but also more challenging to score wallpaper close to the ceiling or adjoining walls.
Price at time of publish: $13
Our top pick is Roman's Wallpaper and Paste Removal Kit, since it includes the tools you'll need for your project, including a scoring wheel, scraper, and solution. It also works on any type of wallpaper, including vinyl. But if you're searching for a budget stripping solution, then you can't beat Zinsser DIF Wallpaper Stripper Concentrate. You'll have to mix the concentrated formula with water prior to use, but each bottle covers up to 600 square feet of wallpaper.
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. If using any chemicals, we also recommend wearing gloves and eye protection.
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. "Perforate the surface of the wallpaper all over with a wallpaper scoring tool. This will allow the wallpaper removal solution to seep behind the wallpaper and loosen the adhesive," Ryan Breau of A-Street Prints suggests.
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 five 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, and 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.
Ryan Breau of A-Street Prints provides this advice: "Spray the wallpaper-removal solution liberally and allow it to soak into the wallpaper for the recommended amount of time. Don’t rush this process. Let the wallpaper-removal solution do most of the work."
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.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Erica Puisis, a freelance writer with expertise in researching and testing home products and appliances. She frequently covers interior design topics and is well aware of the struggle presented by changing trends and tastes when it comes to wallpaper. To find the best options for wallpaper removers, she considered specialized tools, along with solutions to cover the spectrum of products needed.
Erica also interviewed Carol Miller, the marketing manager for York Wallcoverings. Carol provided insights on the feasibility of removing wallpaper as a DIY job, along with recommendations for the tools and supplies you should have on hand when taking on the task. In addition, Ryan Breau from A-Street Prints weighed in on the tools necessary to remove old wallpaper and what to expect when removing peelable wallpaper.