9 things to know about buying removable wallpaper

by | Jan 22, 2022

How to know if removable wallpaper is a good option for you

Removable wallpaper, otherwise known as peel and stick wallpaper, can be a quick and easy way to update the style of any space. Unlike traditional wallpaper, which requires paste, brushes, drop cloths and a whole lot of patience, removable wallpaper is super easy to install with only a few tools required.

If you’ve ever considered removable wallpaper, we’ve compiled a list a few things wallpaper pros recommend to keep in mind before installing your first wallpaper panel.

What’s the difference between traditional wallpaper and peel and stick wallpaper?

In a nutshell – fewer steps, and less mess! With traditional wallpaper, you need to apply an adhesive glue with a brush or roller to the wall in order to adhere the paper to it. Peel and stick wallpaper comes with the adhesive already applied – all you need to do is remove the paper backing! And if you make a mistake, peel and stick wallpaper is much easier to reposition so you can smooth out any air bubbles and wrinkles.

If you’ve ever tried to remove traditional wallpaper, you’ll also know how time-consuming and messy it can be. The paper will often shred easily and you’ll end up scraping it off bit by bit – not to mention leave bits behind on your wall that you’ll have to scrub and sand away. Peel and stick wallpaper is usually made of a vinyl material – which means it will generally come off all in one piece if you’ve prepped the wall well and are removing with steady, slow movements.

So, can peel and stick wallpaper ruin walls?

As compared to traditional wallpaper, peel and stick wallpaper is far less likely to damage your walls when installed correctly. A number of factors, however, can impact how easy it might be to take down – so of course there is no guarantee! The quality of the paper, the material of the wall itself, the quality of the paint job on the wall, and the general environmental factors such as temperature and humidity can all affect how the wallpaper might bond to the surface or not.

We’ve put together a few things to look for when you’re considering installing removable wallpaper.

1. Look for a low-tack adhesive wallpaper that isn’t too thin

One of the best indicators of a quality removable wallpaper product is that the adhesive is truly low-tack – this means, that even if you were to accidentally stick the wallpaper panel to itself, you should be able to pull it away from itself with a steady, gentle pull.

Another factor is how thick the wallpaper is – many wallpaper products are approximately 3-4mm thick, which means that it can stretch and tear easily if you need to remove it.

2. The right paint finish on your wall is key

While peel and stick is far less mess than traditional wallpaper, especially when it comes to removal, the first thing to inspect before starting is the existing paint on the surface you want to cover. Semi-gloss, eggshell or satin paint finishes are the best and will be the easiest to reposition or remove if needed.

3. Start with a smooth surface

Does your wall have orange peel, popcorn, or that sponge paint texture that was big in the 90’s? Avoid applying peel and stick wallpaper (or any wallpaper, really!) to textured walls. The wallpaper will not lay flat and all of that texture will show through in the worst way. There will also be a high likelihood of air bubbles and ripples, and the wallpaper may not stick securely enough to the wall.

Same goes for holes, dents, and deep scratches. For best results, check the entire wall and patch up holes and sand down imperfections before installing your peel and stick wallpaper.

4. Prep your surface – then wait!

Now that you’ve done your prep work on your walls, it’s best to wait to let any putty or paint cure before installing your removable wallpaper. For a full new coat of paint, it’s recommended to wait around 4 weeks to let it fully cure. If you don’t, the wallpaper could bond to the fresh paint more easily – and ruin your walls by taking the paint with it if you remove it.

If you aren’t patching or painting your walls, it’s still recommended to gently clean them with 70% isopropyl alcohol, paying close attention to the edges of walls to ensure a strong seal. Wait about 5 minutes for it to dry before installing the first panel.

5. Moisture matters

For bathrooms, kitchens, and other areas where there will be lots of moisture and humidity, you’ll want to open windows and air out moisture regularly. Removable wallpaper is generally made of vinyl – which means that although it does breathe, it’s slightly less permeable than traditional wallpaper.

6. ‘Removable’ isn’t forever

While removable wallpaper is a much easier, cleaner installation process than traditional wallpapers – and the least damaging of the wallpaper options – there’s limits to that, too. Even for a low-tack peel and stick wallpaper, eventually the adhesive backing can start to bond with the wall. Most temporary wallpaper glue will start to do this after about 2 years. This of course also depends on a variety of factors – the condition of the wall and quality of the paint job; the humidity and temperature of the room, and other factors that will be unique to each wall.

Checking on your wallpaper every few years is a good idea to see if it’s started to bond or not. When removing wallpaper, the best technique is to pull down panels in slow, steady moves, with even pressure, parallel (not perpendicular) to the wall.

7. It’s easy to (gently) clean

Removable wallpaper is also easy to clean! Simply use warm water and a non-abrasive cloth and give your removable wallpaper a quick wipe down to remove dust or light marks. Do not use harsh chemicals or you could risk fading the ink on the paper.

8. There’s minimal tools needed

As compared to traditional wallpaper, installing peel and stick wallpaper requires fewer tools and definitely less mess. Since the glue is already adhered to the paper, all you need to do is simply peel off the paper backing from each panel as you install. In addition, a tape measure, sharp blade, smoothing tool, and straight edge are recommended.

9. Even wallpaper pros know it’s better with two people

Hanging wallpaper panels – whether it’s a small project or an entire room – is definitely best done with two people. Having a second set of hands to pull away the paper backing while you use the smoothing tool to remove air bubbles, or hand you the next wallpaper panel helps make the project even easier.

A wallpaper installation buddy will also be helpful when seam matching panels – by having one person on the step stool and the other further away, you’ll help ensure your accent wall comes out picture-perfect.