Renter-Friendly Wallpaper Installation – Yes, You Can Install Wallpaper!
Some of you might recall earlier this year I partnered with Walls Republic on a few wallpaper projects: some modern wall art and a grasscloth-covered trunk. During our conversations months ago, I told them that I really wanted to come up with a renter-friendly wallpaper installation method. While peel-and-stick removable wallpaper is now available in more and more patterns, I find it is quite costly, only one-time use, and a bit temperamental to work with for a large installation. Traditional wallpaper on the other hand, is much more budget-friendly and more widely available in a variety of patterns, textures and price points. Well friends! After lots of brainstorming and trial and error, I think I finally figured out how to hang wallpaper in a completely removable way. Picture me literally jumping in my chair with excitement over here…I cannot wait to show you!
As most of you know, I am a pattern-loving girl, and I am LOVING the recent trend of fun and funky wallpapers in stores, spaces and projects. I view a powerful wall treatment as a relatively quick and easy way to add MAJOR impact to a space without having to buy lots of new furniture or accessories. The walls in both our new office and playroom are cut in half with an 8″ ledge in the middle (you can see the before pictures here). I’ve committed to not painting…and as much as I tried to come up with another alternative, I knew these walls were ideal candidates for wallpaper installation. And boy, was I right! Take a look at my office now:
Some of you might be scratching your heads thinking, “Wait a minute, I thought we were going pink in the office?” And for a little while, that was the plan. But I couldn’t shake the idea of the bright cobalt blue that I miss from our old dining room so much; and a sweet reader also suggested that blue would flow better with the rest of our house. After weeks of trying different fabric and wrapping paper ideas, I came across this blue and white metallic wallpaper from Walls Republic and switched my plan instantly! (By the way, this paper is also available in 5 different colorways!)
I realize some of you may not even entertain the idea of wallpaper in your home, especially a rental. But I want you to consider what the wallpaper is doing in this room. Everything in here is plain: white table, white counter, white cabinets, light-colored carpeting, white trim, neutral walls. The room went from a boring white box to a designer-like room in just a few hours thanks to the addition of the wallpaper. I’m telling you: you get a lot of bang for your buck with wallpaper. So if you don’t want to change up everything in a space, but the room is calling out for some major personality…give wallpaper a try!
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you to give it a try! Are you ready to learn my renter-friendly wallpaper installation secret? This wallpaper feature is done with real wallpaper and one other product: liquid starch! I recently tried the age-old trick of applying fabric to the walls using liquid starch (more on that in another post). I’ve read over and over again that it goes up easily, and the fabric literally peels right off the walls when it’s time to go. After seeing the fabric+liquid starch work with my own eyes, it occurred to me: why wouldn’t it work with wallpaper too?!? So I cut off a scrap piece of wallpaper, and secured it to the wall with some liquid starch and smoothed it flat with my craft brayer.
The paper adhered to the wall perfectly, and I let it stay up for 48 hours. During that time, the paper hadn’t lifted from the walls or wrinkled a bit, so I gave it the ultimate test: how does it come off? With NO effort and leaving NO residue behind, the paper peeled off in a single, perfect strip. Seriously. You guys: I had my renter-friendly solution at last!
Throughout this post, I have been intentionally using the words “quickly” and “easily.” I know I’m a passionate DIYer who is up for almost any amount of work to get the “right look,” but believe me when I say this paper truly went up quickly and easily! I think these two walls took me about 3 hours from start to finish, and I did it all in my “nice” cloths. It’s not messy or complicated, and I’m going to walk you through the whole thing!
Here’s what you need:
- Wallpaper. There is one critical factor you need to know when selecting your wallpaper. It MUST be the NON-PASTED kind! DO NOT use pre-pasted wallpaper for this project. ONLY USE NON-PASTED WALLPAPER FOR A TEMPORARY INSTALLATION. I really can’t emphasize that part enough. Thankfully, Walls Republic carries ONLY non-pasted wallpapers, making them ideal for this kind of installation as well as other craft projects.
- Paint tray and roller. The size and texture of the roller don’t really matter, just use what you have!
- Rag. To soak up excess liquid starch as you smooth the paper down.
- Brayer. I used a craft brayer because that’s what I had on hand. I’m sure any type of squeegee or smoother would be fine!
- Cutting tools. I used both a rotary cutter and self-healing mat and an X-acto knife for this installation.
- Measuring tape.
- Liquid starch. I bought this gallon at Walmart for $3.59 and used about 1/4 of it.
- Straight edge (not pictured). I used a clear 6×24″ ruler.
Renter-Friendly Wallpaper Installation
Start by measuring your walls to determine how many rolls of wallpaper you will need. Take into account pattern repeat and matching. For my two half walls, I used about 1.5 rolls.
Next, determine where you want your pattern to start, and trim to that point with a straight edge. I wanted each strip of wallpaper to start at the two scrolls (bottom left). So for each new sheet of paper, I trimmed down to that part of the pattern.
Next, measure the length of your wall and add a ~1″ for wiggle room. For reference, I cut each sheet down to 49″ long for my 48″ wall.
The installation is pretty straight forward and surprisingly mess-free. Start by soaking the roller in the liquid starch and rolling off the excess using the tray (you do NOT need a lot of starch to get the paper to stick). Next, roll the starch onto the wall for just the single section of paper you’re installing. The roller is a bit bulky, so use a brush to “cut in” with the starch along the top and bottom edges of the wall.
Next, take your measured and cut sheet of wallpaper and “loosely” attached it at the very top. Before pressing/smoothing, take care to match up the vertical seems.
Then working from the middle of the sheet, smooth upwards, downwards, and to the left with a brayer, working out all the bubbles and excess starch.
At the bottom, use a straight edge to crease the paper, and then trim away the excess paper with an X-acto knife. And with that, a single stretch of paper is installed!
Keep working one sheet at a time following the same steps over and over:
- Trim the paper to the beginning of the pattern repeat.
- Trim the sheet to your required length.
- Apply a light layer of liquid starch to the walls using a roller.
- Attach the sheet of paper to the wall, matching up the vertical seems and smoothing all bubbles using a brayer.
- Trim away the excess paper along the bottom using a sharp knife.
I kid you not…what I thought was going to be a full weekend project, was done in three hours, all by myself. And the transformation is truly jaw-dropping! The blue color is gorgeous, it has a thick, 3D texture, and what you can’t really tell from the photos is that the white has a pearly iridescence to it, so it REALLY lightened and brightened this entire room.
My office/studio space had me a bit down the last few months. It was pretty much a big white box full of white furniture that just felt so style-less and boring. I really wasn’t sure what to do to make it a space I wanted to work and create in without a massive makeover (which honestly, I just wasn’t up for!) and a ton of new stuff (which we don’t need). With a three-hour installation of some pretty phenomenal paper, this room instantly has energy, personality and style. I feel like this space is now so reflective of me, my taste, and my brand, and I LOVE walking in here to work each day!
I will be sure to do a follow-up to this post when we move out next Spring. I have already tested a few corners of the paper, and it peels right up without a problem, but I will be sure to report back how the paper holds up throughout the year (especially through the winter with the heat on!), how the un-installation goes, and what our walls look like after it all comes down. I’m betting now they will look as good as they did the day we moved in! Who is willing to take on my bet? 😉
Updated July 2015
I have since removed the wallpaper from my office! You can see how quickly and easily it came down HERE or clicking the image below!
Updated October 2016 – Wallpaper Installation on Textured Walls?
After moving into a new house, we attempted to hang (different) non-pasted wallpaper on textured walls using this same renter-friendly wallpaper installation method with liquid starch. It still worked great, but I had to make a few adjustments to get the wallpaper to grip. See the slight changes I made by clicking HERE or below.
Updated March 2019
I am so thrilled that so many of you want to try this project in your own spaces! I am happy to answer your questions and help you decide if this is the right project for you. However, before you message or email me, please see if your question has been answered in this comprehensive follow-up post!
I really hope you give this wallpaper project a try in your home. Whether you rent or own, it’s a great way to get a fantastic pattern on your wall with minimal commitment!
I did not receive compensation for this blog post; however Walls Republic did provide the wallpaper for me to use and review. Please remember that I only work with brands and products I fully support and that make sense for my home, my family, and this blog. All opinions are 100% my own!
More Wallpaper Inspiration!
Check out my other tips, tricks and ideas by clicking below!