9 Best Wallpaper Removers
Removing wallpaper is a messy, tedious task, but the right tools and products can make it a little easier.
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Buying Wallpaper Removal Tools
Stripping wallpaper is a wet, messy, tedious task. But with a little time, patience and the right tools, it’s something a DIYer can do successfully.
Although time-consuming, the process of removing wallpaper is relatively straightforward: Soak the paper backing to reactivate the glue holding it to the wall, then scrape off the paper and leftover glue.
When buying tools to help remove wallpaper, first decide the method you’ll use to reactivate the glue. Then determine how to prepare the wallpaper so the water soaks through, and what you’ll use to scrape everything off the wall.
When buying tools and materials to remove wallpaper, consider:
- Wallpaper material (the surface covering): If your wallpaper facing is vinyl, you’ll likely need a wallpaper scorer to scratch up the vinyl and let remover solution or steam soak through. If it’s paper or another more fibrous material, wallpaper remover will likely soak through without scoring.
- Chemicals vs. heat: Wallpaper remover solutions contain chemicals that break down wallpaper glue, making it easier to remove. If you’d rather not use chemicals, go with a wallpaper steamer, which breaks it down with heat.
- Safety: You’ll need to protect your eyes and skin from wallpaper remover solutions. With a wallpaper steam, it’s best to wear safety gloves and long sleeves, and never touch the steamer’s plate.
- Flexibility and thinness: A flexible blade is of utmost importance in a scraper since it’s less likely to damage the wall. And a thinner blade gets behind wallpaper easier than a thicker blade.
Best Concentrated Wallpaper Removal Solution
The Piranha Concentrate Wallpaper Remover covers a lot of area. It’s concentrated, so one 32-ounce bottle will make five gallons of wallpaper removal solution once mixed with water. The company’s spec sheet indicates that will cover about 75 square feet of wallpaper, making it an economical choice.
Best Ready-to-Use Wallpaper Remover Solution
If you’d rather skip the mixing part, WP Chomp’s World’s Best Wallpaper Stripper is ready to go right out of the bottle. The company claims its formula contains more active ingredients than other wallpaper removers, so it will work on more types of glue.
Several Amazon reviewers reported success with this product after water alone didn’t work. One reviewer described their wallpaper coming off “like soft butter.” Bonus: It’s citrus scented.
Best Putty Knife
Putty knives are easy to manipulate and slide behind wallpaper backing as you scrape it off the wall. The Anvil Flexible Putty Knife’s thin, flexible blade makes it less likely to create gouges in your wall.
It comes in various sizes. Decide if you’re more comfortable with a six-inch blade, which professionals often reach for, or the three-inch blade. The latter isn’t so small that you’ll be scraping all day, but isn’t so wide that it feels overwhelmingly large for a beginner.
Best Putty Knife for Tight Spots
If you have a small spot to the side of a door or under a built-in cabinet, a large putty knife won’t work. The Husky 1.5-inch Flexible Putty Knife features a flexible blade to avoid damaging the wall, and a smaller edge to scrape wallpaper backing and glue from those tricky areas.
Best Wallpaper Scraper
Dedicated wallpaper scraping tools come with sharp blades to remove the wallpaper and longer handles than a typical putty knife. The WP Chomp Wallpaper Scraping Tool comes with a replaceable blade that can be sharpened. The blade is set at an angle to scrape wallpaper easier while making it less likely to damage the wall.
Best Wallpaper Scorer
If you try soaking your wallpaper and find the solution isn’t getting through to the backing, it’s time for a wallpaper scorer.
The WP Chomp Wallpaper Scorer features two rotating stainless steel scoring wheels on a pivoting arm to poke holes in the wallpaper as you run it across the wall. The holes let the wallpaper remover solution reach the backing. The pivoting arm makes it easy to run the tool back and forth across the wall without worrying about holding it at a particular angle.
Best Wallpaper Steamer
The Wagner 725 Steamer features a 1.3-gallon reservoir, a 24-foot reach (including the 12-foot hose) and two hours of runtime. Two steam plates come with: 8- x 11-in. for large areas and 3- x 6-in. plate for smaller ones.
One reviewer on The Home Depot’s web site railed about previous “nightmare” wallpaper removal projects while noting this steamer made the process go more smoothly. “If your time is valuable I would strongly recommend this product. It saved me a lot of time and hard work,” they write.
Best Budget Wallpaper Steamer
The Gymax 1500 Watt wallpaper steamer offers a one-gallon reservoir, 20 feet of reach with a 10-foot hose, and three hours of runtime. There’s one 8- x 11-in. plate included. It’s extremely light, only four pounds when empty.
Best Wallpaper Steamer to Rent
If you don’t want to buy a wallpaper steamer, you can rent the Earlex SteamMaster at The Home Depot. This steamer offers a 1.9-gallon capacity with up to three hours of runtime. Its 16-foot hose gives you 32 feet of reach. Check with your local The Home Depot store before heading out to rent it.
Now that you’ve read up on the best wallpaper removers, you may want to keep these tips for removing wallpaper in mind.