Answering Your FAQs About Removable Wallpaper
It’s always interesting to me to see which blog posts, over time, become really popular. Most often, it tends to be posts I never expect to “go viral” (like this one and this one). Yet every now and then, a favorite projects or something that I think is particularly clever will actually, finally take off. When I first posted my “renter-friendly wallpaper technique” a few years ago, I thought it was a pretty awesome project that would “take the Internet by storm!” Ha! Spoiler: that didn’t happen! And I’ll admit I was more than a bit disappointed at the lack of traction the post initially received. But in the years since, it’s actually become one of my most popular posts thanks to tons of fellow renters Googling “removable wallpaper.” Consequently, it’s now the project I get questions about on a daily basis. So many of the questions are variations on a theme, so I thought it would be useful to compile all the answers here as a follow-on post to the original tutorial!
If you missed the original wallpaper project I’m going to chat about today, you can read it here. In summary, I used the old liquid starch trick (that folks used to use to adhere fabric to their walls) to apply non-pasted wallpaper to our rental walls. It worked brilliantly and became one of my favorite ways to change up our walls without paint. You can also read my follow-on post about how the wallpaper came down, as well as how to put wallpaper up on textured walls using the same technique.
Below are the questions I receive the most, but if there’s anything else you’re wondering about, don’t hesitate to leave a question and I’ll answer it in the comments. Okay – here we go!
By far, the most common question I receive:
How has the wallpaper+liquid starch technique held up over time?
When I first experimented with the wallpaper+liquid starch method and showed how easily it came down, the paper had only been on the walls for about 9 months. Although I couldn’t fathom it peeling or falling off the walls because of how well-adhered it was, I couldn’t really speak to the long-term viability of this application method.
Non-pasted wallpaper in my Kansas Office
However, as some of you know, I used the same method in our current home, using liquid starch to hang wallpaper (on textured walls) in our son’s nursery. The paper in that room has been up for over 2 years, and I can now say, without hesitation, that this method can successfully be used for long-term applications. Even with fluctuations in temperatures, the paper on most walls is still in perfect condition without any peeling, drooping, etc. It’s literally as good as the day I hung it.
Non-pasted wallpaper in my son’s nursery
Now…I say on most walls only because I’m honest to a fault. Sam loves to stand at his bedroom window and watch the cars and trash trucks go by. The wallpaper along his windowsill is not protected by any trim and is essentially a loose edge right at his play level. Over the years, the paper along the window sill has pulled away from the wall, but only because he plays with it. I could easily pull out my jug of liquid starch and re-adhere it, but I’m too lazy.
Non-pasted wallpaper in my son’s nursery
So…will your wallpaper eventually fall down or peel up if you use liquid starch? No. It won’t budge. However, if you have a toddler that plays with a loose edge everyday, yes, it will start to peel up!
Can I try the liquid starch method over existing wallpaper?
I’m pretty shocked how often I get this question…there must be some pretty bad wallpapers in rentals out there that people are desperate to cover up!
I have not personally tried to hang wallpaper over existing wallpaper at all, much less with the liquid starch method. That said, I don’t recommend it, but let me clarify why. I do think wallpaper applied with liquid starch would adhere to another layer of (non-textured) wallpaper. My concern is that the liquid starch might leave a cloudy discoloration of the existing wallpaper and/or leave wet marks on the wallpaper (sort of like it did on the fabric here). If you don’t mind that the underlying wallpaper might get damaged, then go for it. But if you’re trying to use the liquid starch method as a safe, removable, renter-friendly solution, I would not risk discoloring or damaging the existing wallpaper. In this case, I would use peel-and-stick wallpaper since it will come off cleanly and not damage the existing wallpaper at all!
Peel-and-stick wallpaper around our Kansas fireplace
Can the wallpaper be used again?
In my experience, yes. If you use liquid starch to hang non-pasted wallpaper, then take it down and try to hang it in a new space, it should work. This is one of the biggest advantages of this method over peel-and-stick paper, which most often is one-time use. That said, keep in mind that ceiling heights and wall widths are different from home to home. So your lengths of paper or the amount you have may not translate to your next space perfectly.
Can I use spray starch to hang non-pasted wallpaper?
It’s come to my attention that the big jugs of liquid starch are not available in other countries; and as such, some readers have asked if spray starch will work? Although I have not experimented myself, I don’t think so. I don’t think the spray cans of starch will get the paper wet enough to secure it to the wall. If anyone has tried it, please share your results with us in the comments!
Can the liquid starch technique be used in moist spaces such as bathrooms or kitchens?
Peel-and-stick wallpaper in our California bathroom.
I honestly don’t see why not. Although I haven’t personally tried to hang wallpaper with liquid starch in a bathroom, I have been so impressed with the durability of this method that I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to do so. As always though, I do recommend doing a test with a small swatch of paper (before you paper the entire room) to make sure the heat and moisture don’t adversely effect it.
Peel-and-stick wallpaper in our California kitchen.
How do I find/where do I buy non-pasted wallpaper?
You can find non-pasted wallpaper almost anywhere wallpaper is sold, you just need to read the specifications to find out if it’s pre-pasted (avoid) or non-pasted (this is what you want!). Some of my favorite sources are Walls Republic, Graham and Brown, Joss & Main, One Kings Lane, and The Home Depot.
Where do I buy peel-and-stick wallpaper?
These days, it seems like there are hundreds of companies selling peel-and-stick wallpaper. Although I’ve tried a few, by far, my favorite product is the Devine peel-and-stick wallpaper from Target. If/when you can buy it on sale (ALWAYS check end caps!), it’s the best product for the price!
What is the advantage of using the liquid starch method versus peel-and-stick wallpaper?
Regular readers will know that I have an affinity toward all wallpaper, traditional and peel-and-stick alike. Yet I do have personal preferences of when/where I use which.
The two main benefits of using non-pasted wallpaper+liquid starch over peel-and-stick paper is 1) cost – you can often paper much more space for a lot less money using non-pasted wallpaper; and 2) the ability to re-use it – peel-and-stick paper, in theory, is reusable but I’ve never successfully removed it in a way that makes it usable again. The non-pasted traditional wallpaper will peel off in perfect sheets that can be used again and again. I prefer to use non-pasted papers when I want to do a lot of space such as a full room or a large accent wall.
Non-pasted wallpaper in my Kansas office.
The advantage of peel-and-stick papers is that you don’t need any special supplies to hang it (other than a scissors and a level), and it’s fairly easy to hang. However, I find it much more expensive, especially for a one-time use product, and tend to reserve it for closets, accent walls, or small spaces. You can see my best tips for cutting the cost of peel-and-stick wallpaper here.
Peel-and-stick wallpaper in my son’s bedroom.
What do you think of the painter’s tape+double-sided tape method?
Okay…so I guess there is a “well-known” wallpaper application technique out there on the Internet that involves putting painter’s tape on your wall and then using double-stick tape to secure wallpaper to the painter’s tape. I’ve never really read the full tutorial nor have I tried it because frankly…it sounds like a heck of a lot of work with questionable payoff. But I keep getting asked about it, so I’ll share my two cents.
Keep in mind that painter’s tape can be pricey, and if you need to use a lot on your walls to get the paper to fully stick, you may not save any money in the long run. And you certainly won’t save any time or hassle. Additionally, because you are only securing paper to the wall at intervals (where the tape is), the paper might “billow” away from the walls, making it look more like a poster than wallpaper.
While I do think the painters tape+double stick tape might be a good way to hang thinner papers, such as wrapping paper, if you have good, thick wallpaper, I suggest you use the liquid starch method. It will give you the visual results of “real” wallpaper yet still be fully removable.
Phew! For those of you who are a wallpaper lover like me, I hope these answers and insights give you the confidence to give some of these products and techniques a try! If wallpaper isn’t your thing, we’ll be back to some organization projects and other home updates next week! Have a great weekend, friends!