Outdated wallpaper can make a room look drab and tired. When it’s time for a modern update, removing old wall coverings is a transformative step. With the right tools, even the toughest wallpaper is no match for a determined DIYer. The best wallpaper remover is effective and easy to use, leaving behind a blank canvas for your next project. Read on to learn more about how to pick the best wallpaper remover for the job and explore some of the top picks available today.
- BEST OVERALL: WP Chomp 52016 Wallpaper Scraping Tool
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Bates Choice Scraper
- BEST SCORING TOOL: Zinsser Paper Tiger Free-Floating Wallpaper Remover
- BEST SOLVENT: WP Chomp World’s Best Wallpaper Stripper
- BEST STEAMER: Wagner Spraytech 0282018 1-Gallon Wallpaper Steamer
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Wallpaper Remover
The first step to transforming old and dingy walls is to shed the older layers. Using the right tools makes removing wallpaper less of a pain. Here are a few things to consider before purchasing wallpaper remover.
Types of Wallpaper Removers
There are a number of wallpaper removing tools available online, each made for a different task. Some wallpaper, like temporary wallpaper, is easier to remove as they’re designed to stick on and peel off. Strippable wallpaper may take more effort, and water-resistant or washable wallpapers, like vinyl wallpapers, will need the most elbow grease to remove.
Depending on the wallpaper type, you may need to use multiple tools to tackle the job. Wallpaper removing tools include solvents, scrapers, scorers, and steamers.
- Solvents break down the adhesive glue beneath the wallpaper, making it easier to peel and scrape the coverings away. These products come in sprays and gels. Most wallpaper-removing solvents are caustic, so make sure to follow the directions and wear any recommended protective gear.
- Scrapers are useful to pair with any wallpaper removal method. These handheld tools have a thin scraping edge for peeling away wallpaper and leftover adhesive after the wallpaper has been soaked or steamed. Some options have replaceable blades so you’ll always have a sharp and effective blade.
- Scorers leave tiny incisions in the wallpaper, helping the solution penetrate better and saturate the adhesive. These handheld tools are especially useful for water-resistant wallpapers like vinyl. The small holes created by a scorer allow liquid to seep through and reach the wallpaper glue. Take care to use light pressure to perforate the wallpaper to avoid scratching the wall underneath
- Steamers generate hot steam to soften the wallpaper adhesive. These tools are held against the wallpaper to steam small sections at a time, breaking down the glue so the wallpaper can peel or scrape away. They’re an excellent pick for any wallpaper type, including old, stubborn wallpapers. But, they’re also the priciest option.
Removing wallpaper doesn’t come without risks. When using chemical solvents and wallpaper steamers, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions and recommended precautions.
Most chemical solvents are caustic and can contain irritating ingredients. Make sure to follow the included directions and wear protective equipment like gloves and protective eyewear, if needed.
Wallpaper steamers create very hot steam and can drip boiling hot water. It’s important to follow the included directions to prevent burns or injuries. As an extra safety precaution, it’s a good idea to don protective gloves and eyewear while steaming wallpaper. After steaming a section of the wallpaper, use a scraper to remove it. Do not use your hands, as the wallpaper can be very hot.
While physical tools like scrapers and scorers are generally safe, they do have sharp edges. When shopping for these tools, look for options with sturdy and comfortable handles. Some users may prefer to wear gloves to prevent any pokes or jabs while using these tools.
Capacity and Convenience
If using a liquid solution, a spray bottle or paint roller and a cellulose sponge are useful tools for applying the removal solution. A spray bottle or paint roller makes it easier to evenly cover larger areas of wallpaper, while a sponge is excellent for soaking tight corners.
Wallpaper steamers have a built-in water tank that usually holds 1 to 4 liters of water. The larger the tank capacity, the longer the steamer will work before refilling. Keep in mind that a larger tank will also be heavier and more unwieldy to move and store. Some steamers include a water level monitoring feature, so you can see the water level without needing to peek into the water tank.
The steamer hose length and steam plate size also contribute to convenience. A longer hose provides more reach so you can cover a larger area without moving the steamer. For added convenience, some steamers offer a variety of steam plate sizes, including a larger steam plate for covering large areas and a small steam plate for getting into tight spaces.
Our Top Picks
The right tools and techniques can make removing wallpaper a relatively simple task. A little bit of elbow grease can transform a room, leaving you with a clean slate for a stylish renovation. Here are a few of our Top Picks for tackling tired, old wallpaper.
A good scraper is a must-have for almost any wallpaper-removing job. This wallpaper scraper from WP Chomp is an efficient pick. With a premium, dual-edge blade and an ergonomic design, this scraper is made to tackle wallpaper removal and a range of other household chores.
The WP Chomp is designed with a pre-set blade angle to keep the scraper in an optimal position against the wall. The angle helps to slide under the wallpaper and reduce the chance of accidental nicks and gouges. The blade can also be resharpened or replaced to ensure effective removal. Beyond removing wallpaper, this handy scraper is also useful for removing paint, putty, and adhesives from a variety of surfaces.
To tackle a range of wall renovation jobs, consider this set of multi-purpose scrapers from Bates Choice. This affordable dual-pack comes with two metal scrapers to handle a number of tasks, from removing wallpaper to opening paint cans.
Each scraper has a thick stainless steel blade and a wooden handle. The straight-ground blade is sharp and rust-resistant, ideal for sliding beneath wallpaper, even in damp or steamy conditions. The comfortable and durable handle provides a soft grip to tackle long jobs with ease.
Made for multi-purpose use, the blade has a pointed end and a cut-out design to function as a go-to tool for home renovations. It is also useful for spackling drywall or removing crown molding to get walls back to tip-top shape.
With three scoring heads, this tool from Zinsser can perforate an entire room of wallpaper with ease. The self-aligning heads cover a greater surface area than single-head tools to finish the job in less time and with less effort. This handheld tool has an ergonomic handle that fits in the palm of the hand, making it easy to zip across the wallpaper surface.
Steel teeth score and lift little pieces of wallpaper from the wall, allowing solvents and steam to penetrate tough wallpaper. It can even prick through painted-over or multiple layers of wallpaper without damaging the walls underneath.
This wallpaper removing solvent from WP Chomp arrives in a ready-to-spray bottle, making it simple to tackle arduous removing jobs. The formula works on most wallpaper types, including vinyl, strippable, grass, and temporary wallpaper. Each bottle contains 32 ounces of solution to cover around 100 square feet of wallpaper.
The commercial-strength formula is designed to penetrate quickly, working to soften adhesive and make the wallpaper and leftover residue easier to remove. The solvent has a mild citrus scent that won’t leave a strong chemical smell behind. WP Chomp recommends using this spray with a wallpaper scoring tool, especially when used on tough-to-remove water-resistant wallpapers.
Tough jobs call for stronger tools. For efficient and effective wallpaper removal, consider this wallpaper steamer from Wagner. To handle big jobs, this steamer includes a large 8- by 11-inch steam plate that easily covers the expansive walls of living areas.
The steam plate has an easy-grip handle to help complete long steaming jobs, a useful feature since this steamer can run up to 70 minutes on a full water tank. The steam plate attaches to an 11-foot long hose, which stretches to those hard-to-reach areas. Using chemical-free steam, this lightweight and portable device removes stubborn wallpaper to leave a clean slate behind.
FAQs About Your New Wallpaper Removers
Removing old wallpaper doesn’t need to be a daunting task. The right tools and techniques make the job much easier and put you on the path to fresh new walls. If you’re still having trouble choosing the best wallpaper remover for your needs, consider reading through the frequently asked questions and answers below.
Q: What’s the easiest way to remove old wallpaper?
Choosing the ideal way to remove old wallpaper depends on the wallpaper type. Temporary and strippable wallpaper can sometimes peel off using a scorer, scraper, and a removing solution or solvent. Stubborn old wallpaper or water-resistant wallpapers may benefit from using a steamer to deeply penetrate the adhesive for removal.
Q: Does fabric softener or vinegar remove wallpaper?
Yes, it is possible to remove wallpaper with a fabric softener or vinegar solution. However, solvents are specifically formulated to remove wallpaper and are excellent for those looking for a straightforward, pre-made solution. Solvents also tend to be stronger than homemade solutions. Keep in mind that you will likely need to pair a solution with tools like a scraper or scorer to fully remove the wallpaper and glue.
Q: Do wallpaper steamers really work?
Yes, wallpaper steamers use hot steam to soften the adhesive attaching the wallpaper to the wall. This process makes it easier to peel or scrape away the wallpaper.
Q: Do wallpaper removers have an expiration date?
Generally, wallpaper removers do not have an expiration date, but as with most household products, it is possible for some ingredients to degrade over time. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions for storing the wallpaper remover.