If there’s anything you guys know about me by now, it’s that I’m pretty much game to try anything in our rental homes…as long as it’s completely removable, of course! I’ve long been wanting to experiment with putting peel and stick wallpaper on the floor…partly to satisfy my own curiosity, but also to be able to intelligently answer the frequent questions I get about it. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, ugly or damaged flooring in a rental is one of the trickiest situations to (temporarily) remedy. Peel and stick wallpaper is an appealing solution with its budget-friendly price tag and complete removability. But does it actually stick to floors? Does it hold up to foot traffic, moisture, and furniture? What about floor seams? How hard is it to install? Let me share everything I’ve learned!
Our boys’ tiled bathroom floor struck me as the perfect place to give this experiment a try for a few reasons:
- It’s a small space, so the cost and time investment was minimal.
- It doesn’t get a ton of heavy foot traffic, so I wasn’t worried about it getting instantly destroyed.
- The tile actually gets super slick when wet, so the boys constantly slip on it anyway.
- And…the bathroom was feeling really boring otherwise, and I thought a bold splash of pattern on the floor would be super fun!
So I invested about $20 and 90 minutes to put peel and stick wallpaper on the floor. And WOW…FUN indeed!
Since this bathroom is primarily for our young boys, I wanted something funky and modern. But being a bathroom floor, I also wanted a paper that would give the impression of tile. The $10/roll price tag of this specific paper sealed the deal for me, and I honestly couldn’t love the look more!
The durability of this project still needs some time to be fully tested (more on this below); but from an aesthetic perspective, this might very well be one of my favorite rental updates ever!
Alright…let me share all the details about how I installed it, how it’s holding up, etc!
Before You Get Started
Anytime I instal wallpaper on a new-to-me surface, I always always always test it before doing a full installation. There’s nothing more frustrating than wasting time and good wallpaper on a project that won’t work, so whether you’re adhering wallpaper to textured walls, furniture, flooring, or something else, apply a swatch (how big is up to you) and watch it for a few days. If you’re happy with the results, proceed with the full installation.
In the case of the boys’ bathroom, I was most concerned with water. Would it get under the seams/edges? Would it wrinkle the paper? Would the edges curl up from shower steam? Although I’ve installed wallpaper on lots of surfaces, I don’t have experience with water exposure. So I laid a single length of paper closest to the tub (the area that gets splashed the most) and watched it through a few bath cycles. There was no bubbling, warping, tearing, or curling. So with my confidence bolstered, I went for it!
Here is what you will need to put peel and stick wallpaper on the floor:
- Peel and stick wallpaper – see more specifics below
- Tape measure
- Long ruler
- Scissors and craft knife
- Scraper (not shown)
What Wallpaper Should You Use?
As you’ll read further down, my main concern with the durability of this project is due to the quality (or lack there of) of this specific wallpaper. I’ve experimented with many different brands of wallpaper over the years, and this paper is easily the cheapest, poorest quality paper I’ve ever used. Admittedly, I picked it because it was so inexpensive (not knowing if this project was going to work, I didn’t want to invest $60-$100 on wallpaper.) “You get what you pay for” was true in this instance; and my one and only regret (so far) is not investing in higher quality paper.
So what paper should you use?
I’ll be the first to say that price doesn’t necessarily equate to a wallpaper’s quality. Instead, I recommend that you let your sense of touch guide you. If the wallpaper is brittle (as in, it tears SUPER easily with just your fingernail) or it’s rigid and really difficult to manipulate, it’s likely not a good paper for the floor (because you will have to work it around corners, vents, and other features).
Here are some brands I’ve used in the past that I think would work brilliantly for a floor installation:
- Spoonflower – I used this wallpaper on this stool, and it held up really well for many years. Thanks to its texture, it’s easily the most durable wallpaper I’ve ever worked with, but it is more expensive than most.
- NuWallpaper & RoomMates – These papers are almost identical in their quality. They aren’t as thick as Spoonflower’s papers, but they can withstand lots of tugging, pulling, manipulating, and re-laying,
- Target – Target’s wallpapers are among my favorites because they are priced well and easy to work with. While not the most durable paper you can find, it will still surpass the paper I used!
It warrants reiterating that testing will help you determine if a paper is durable enough for your floor, so consider ordering samples when possible!
How to Put Peel and Stick Wallpaper on the Floor
Just like with a wall installation, you will lay the wallpaper down in strips. Before cutting any paper though, decide which way you want your strips to go based on the paper’s pattern or specific floor/room features. I wanted as few seams as possible for water to get under, so I opted to run my panels parallel to the tub.
Start by measuring the length of your floor from baseboard to baseboard. While wall measurements are fairly straight forward, you need to be aware of common floor features such as corners, bump-outs, toilets, vents, or stairs. Always measure the longest possible distance between walls so your strip can extend past protruding corners or other features.
Next, cut your wallpaper down into a strip that fits the length of your floor. Be sure to take into account pattern matching (always double check where the panels line up before you cut!), and I recommend adding an extra 5″ for wiggle room.
I never rely on the measurements on the backs of wallpapers or contact papers (they never seem right!), and instead use my cutting mat as a ruler. Since you’ll clean up the edges with a craft knife, a basic trim with scissors is sufficient at this point.
Before removing any paper backing, line up your panel with either the floor’s edge (to lay your first panel) or the previous panel (to match the pattern). I like to use a pencil or crease to mark my place, as necessary.
I have installed a lot of wallpapers and shelf liners, and time-and-time again I use the same method: start from the center. I prefer to remove a wide chunk of the paper backing from the center of the panel, and then roll up a few inches of the paper in both directions (this will make it easier to pull out as you smooth the panel down).
Then…lining up the pattern and ensuring your panel is completely parallel to the one before it…smooth down the center of the panel, across the full width of the strip.
(That sounds a little confusing. In the photo below, I smooth from where my hand is down toward my knee.)
With the center of the panel smoothed flat, find the rolled up paper backing on one side, and start to pull it away from the panel’s center.
As you pull the paper away with one hand, smooth the top of the paper down with the other.
Continue to work your way toward the wall, pulling out the paper backing and smoothing as you go.
NOTE! See how my panel will need to extend to the left of that protruding corner (above)? This is why you always measure the longest distance between walls so you are sure to have enough paper length.
Return to the center of the panel, and repeat the process in the other direction.
TIP! Peel and stick wallpaper is called “repositionable” for a reason! If your panel doesn’t go down straight or is bubbled or creased, IT IS OKAY to peel it up and lay it back down again. Just note that because you’ve already removed all the paper backing, a second set of hands might be needed to keep it all from sticking to each other!
Working Around Corners & Edges
Just like working around windows, outlets, and corners on a wall installation, you will have to do some creative cutting to work around bump outs, corners, toilets, stairs etc. The best method, no matter what kind of feature you are working around, is usually to create vertical cuts in the paper so you can ultimately lay the panel flat.
In the example below, notice how I cut a vertical slice at the protruding corner. This alleviated the tension in the paper panel and allowed it to be smoothed down in both directions of the corner.
In the case of the round toilet, I created vertical slits at closer intervals, which helped the paper lay flat against the floor as I worked around to the back.
See how brittle this paper is! I could literally cut it with my fingernail.
Don’t hesitate to make as ugly of vertical cuts as you need to get the paper to lay flat against the floor in all directions. Once you have the paper smoothed down, use a sharp craft knife along the baseboards or grout lines to clean up all the raw edges.
Repeat the process of measuring, cutting, peeling, smoothing, and trimming each panel until your entire floor is covered!
Okay! Now that you know how to install peel and stick wallpaper on the floor, let’s get into some of the questions you are likely wondering about!
What Above Groves & Grout Lines?
In a perfect world, you’d apply peel and stick wallpaper to perfectly smooth, flat floors. But if you’re taking on this project to cover up dented, roughed up, planked, or tiled floors, don’t worry. In this single experience at least, imperfect flooring was not a problem.
Our tile floor has recessed grout lines (meaning the grout sits lower than the tile). The wallpaper sticks just fine to the entire floor, and I didn’t take care to specifically work the paper into the grooves. Instead, I pulled the paper taut across the grout lines as much as possible.
Across 95% of the floor, you can’t see the grout lines through the paper at all. But there is one little spot…randomly…where the paper went into the groove instead of laying taught across it. You can (barely) see it in the photo below. What looks like an upward wrinkle is actually a slight indentation.
It is barely recognizable from most angles and wouldn’t at all deter me from this type of wallpaper installation, but it is something to be aware of if your floors have grout lines or pronounced grooves.
Will the Wallpaper Tear?
As I mentioned above, I laid a panel of paper down as a test for a few days, and even did the installation wearing shoes. I was fairly confident the paper would hold up to foot traffic until Greg came in to help me with a stubborn panel while wearing his combat boots. He pivoted slightly; and sure enough, the thick treads of his boots tore a gash in the wallpaper. Gahhh!!!! We smoothed it back down and it actually hasn’t budged since.
While I was a bit disappointed to have a tear in the paper so quickly, I’m fairly certain it was mostly due to the very poor quality of this specific paper combined with Greg’s very rugged boots. I specifically chose to do this installation in an upstairs bathroom where we are mostly shoeless. If you’re considering a foyer or high-traffic area, you might want to consider very durable paper or sealing it (more on that below).
Did We Seal the Wallpaper?
No, we did not. Admittedly, I’ve read this similar tutorial over and over. And while adding a clear acrylic floor sealer will most certainly lead to improved durability, I just don’t want to do anything that might damage our floors underneath (I don’t trust that it won’t seep under the seams). Again, because this is an upstairs, low-traffic space, I am comfortable with this decision. But if you’re trying this project in a high-traffic space, it might be something to consider.
How Do You Clean the Floors?
So far, we’ve cleaned with the same standard wet mop that we used on the tile floors before. This wallpaper is listed as “waterproof,” and we’ve seen no evidence of curling or water damage so far.
Is the Wallpaper Slippery?
Nope! At least not the paper we used. Again, the tile floor underneath is SUUUUPER slippery when wet, so I’m actually a little relieved to have it all covered up. We do still have our bathmat in place (by the way, these mats are the best we’ve ever bought!) to catch most of the water off the boys; but otherwise, we’ve had no slipping issues at all!
With the wallpaper in place for only a few weeks, I can’t speak to the long-term durability of it. Like I’ve done with other wallpaper experiments in the past, I plan to update this post with additional information and pictures as time goes on.
Despite the cheap paper we used, I really can’t get over how amazing this project turned out. Seriously…every time I walk past the bathroom, I get heart eyes all over again. Even though I’ve done some other little renter-friendly “upgrades” in here, nothing has had near the visual impact as adding pattern to the floor.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: a good patterned wallpaper can single-handedly transform a room. I’m pretty sure if this paper ends up not to be as durable as I hope, I’d still consider it well worth the $20 and a single naptime. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on how it holds up!
More Wallpaper Inspiration!
Looking for more creative uses for wallpaper in your home? Check out these fun ideas!