You’ve seen it a million times on Instagram, design blogs, and even here on MyDomaine: peel-and-stick wallpaper. When you’re looking for a change-up with little commitment or need a renter-friendly design change, peel-and-stick wallpaper can give you some serious payoff.
Removable or peel-and-stick wallpaper is usually made from materials with a low-tack adhesive that won’t damage walls and is easy to remove. Here, we're sharing tips on how to apply like a pro from two pros themselves, Elizabeth Rees, the co-founder of Chasing Paper, and Heather Shaw Menis, the founder of Curio by Fifth & Main and F&M Wallcoverings.
Meet the Expert
- Elizabeth Rees is the co-founder of Chasing Paper, which uses fabric material for a rich texture.
- Heather Shaw Menis is the founder of Curio by Fifth & Main and F&M Wallcoverings, which uses printed on stucco-like paper featuring no HAPs (hazardous pollutants) latex ink in Virginia, making it a good and safe choice for nurseries, hospitals, and people with asthma.
Clean Your Walls
Not shockingly, you need to clean your walls before applying wallpaper. “Wipe down the walls at least a few days ahead of time to allow for the walls to be clean and dry before application,” Rees says. Shaw Menis recommends also wiping with denatured alcohol.
Decide If You Need to Paint
Rees says that wallpaper will work best on smooth surfaces that are primed with premium eggshell, satin, or semi-gloss paint. Matte finishes don’t typically work well with this type of wallpaper, as the adhesive can bond and pull the paint when removing. Textured walls also make it difficult for wallpaper to stick properly.
Shaw Menis says a good trick, should you want, is to paint your walls a similar color to the background of the wallpaper so that if you do end up with any small gaps between the wall and covering, they won't be as obvious.
If you do paint before application, make sure to plan accordingly, Rees notes, as paint can take up to 4 weeks to fully cure.
Buy the Right Amount
Rees recommends buying 10% to 15% more wallpaper than what you’ll think you need, particularly if it’s a complicated pattern. It’ll help with tight spots and corners to have overage.
Have the Right Tools
You don’t need tools to apply this wallpaper, but they will make installation a bit easier—and both Rees and Shaw Menis agree. Both recommend a cutting knife like a Xacto for tricky angles and corners, a smoothing tool like a ruler, which will also help you with measuring for tight spots, another type of smoothing tool—Shaw Menis uses the TimberMaxx lip—and perhaps a small needle to help pop air bubbles in the wallpaper.
Start the Application, and Keep an Eye on the Backing
“To make installation more manageable, start by peeling off the back of just the top of the panel, and slowly peel more of the backing off as you go,” Rees says. Shaw Menis agrees but adds a little trick—a strip in the middle. Stick the middle, remove the backing from the top, and place, then same for the bottom, she suggests.
When it comes to most peel-and-stick wallpapers, you can readjust a time or two without serious sticking consequences. “Don’t be worried about messing up. You can just take it off the wall and re-stick,” Rees says.
Use a smoothing tool to get things nice and flat, and smooth down at an angle toward the bottom—a 45-degree angle works best so that the air can escape sideways, according to Shaw Menis. For any tricky areas, use a knife to cut out holes or angles. Shaw Menis also recommends not pulling the paper too hard to prevent stretching.
Have a stubborn air bubble? Both experts suggests to use a needle or small pin to release the air.
Remove It—Don’t Worry, It’s Easy
Pull the corner and start slow, and the peel-and-stick wallpaper should come right off whenever you need a change.