On the Surface: Will wallpaper stick to textured walls?

by | Mar 19, 2023

In a perfect world, every wall is smooth, clean, and perfectly suited to peel and stick wallpaper. But the world isn’t perfect, and neither are walls, especially not ones we don’t have control over in rented homes. So you’re probably sitting in your favourite chair right now, thinking about how great your space would look with Busy Street in Indigo or Chiklets in Portal and wondering, “is this wall surface good enough for Otto Studio wallpaper?”

The answer: probably!

But first, let’s talk texture.

Common wall textures & paint finishes

There are several wall textures that you are likely to encounter in your home. Some are better than others for peel-and-stick wallpaper.

Best: Satin paint and drywall

Satin is the glossiest wall finish you’re likely to see in your home. It’s a smooth paint finish that is easy to wipe down and a little bit reflective. The smoothness of satin makes it easy for peel and stick wallpaper like Chill Pill in Pink Party to adhere because every bit of the adhesive is in contact with the wall. Drywall is also the best surface on which to install our wallpaper, as it’s slightly porous and breathable, while still having a smooth finish when painted.

Also good: Eggshell paint

Eggshell is satin’s humble cousin. A little less shiny, somewhat less wipeable but still smooth as heck, eggshell works fine with high-quality wallpaper like Amaretto Cascade.

Not perfect: Matte paint

While matte paint finishes are very popular these days, they’re not great for wallpaper. Even though matte feels smooth or almost powdery to the touch, if you could zoom in on it, you would see a very fine textural pattern that makes it harder for wallpaper to stick. It’s not perfect, but it’s also not necessarily a dealbreaker. If you have a small area of matte finish walls, wallpaper might be just what you need to spruce up your digs. We recommend that you order some swatches (you can find this option on every pattern page) to test our product in your space. 

Not recommended: Orange peel, knockdown, slap brush, popcorn, and highly textured surfaces

These are old school textures that are often applied to hide drywall imperfections, dampen sound, or to just make a place look straight out of the 70s. Thanks to heavy-handed brush techniques and other tools, these textures tend to be high relief—that is, the surface shows a lot of variation between high and low points. Why is this bad for wallpaper? Heavy textures do not give enough surface area for the peel-and-stick to hang on. And because Otto Studio wallpaper is thick and luxurious, the added weight makes it harder for the wallpaper to stay up.

These can also include brick, cement, and plywood surfaces – these surfaces won’t take wallpaper well.

Left to right: Knockdown, popcorn, and orange peel textures. Wallpaper is not recommended for these wall texture types.

The good news

Orange peel, knockdown, slap brush, and popcorn are all heading to the same place as orange shag carpet and rattan furniture: the distant past. Newly constructed homes tend to be painted with satin or eggshell because it is easy to clean and has a neutral appearance that suits almost anyone. And the first thing renovators tend to do when they find a texture like popcorn or orange peel is spend a week sanding and scraping their surfaces smooth. So chances are good that many of the walls you encounter while renting are going to be suitable for Olive Fancy Fish. And if you own your walls, just put in a little elbow grease to get them ready for a fresh new look!

Still not sure?

If you’re standing in front of your walls trying to decide if they’re matte or eggshell or something else that we haven’t mentioned here, you don’t have to take a leap of blind faith and jump in with both feet. Just order a swatch of Lisbon Diamond Stripe or any other wallpaper design and test it out on a less visible part of your wall. When it works out great, you’ll feel confident ordering all the wallpaper you need to complete your home decor project.