Renter-Friendly Wallpaper Installation – Yes, You Can Install Wallpaper!
Well friends! After lots of brainstorming and trial and error, I finally figured out how to hang wallpaper in a completely removable way. Picture me literally jumping in my chair with excitement over here!
While peel-and-stick “removable” wallpaper is now available in a variety patterns, I find it is quite costly and a bit temperamental to work with for a large installation. Notice my use of quotes on the word “removable” since I’ve never actually been able to successfully remove a single sheet of peel-and-stick wallpaper despite its claims. Traditional wallpaper on the other hand, is much more budget-friendly and more widely available in a variety of patterns, textures and price points. On top of that, using the method I’m about to show you, it’s completely removable and reusable, making it the ultimate renter-friendly wallpaper installation method out there!
I really enjoyed partnering with Walls Republic on a few other wallpaper projects (modern wall art and a grasscloth-covered trunk), so I wanted to collaborate with them again to bring you this completely renter-friendly solution for wallpaper installation that I can’t 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 width-wise with an 8″ ledge in the middle. Since I’ve committed to not painting, I decided these walls were the perfect 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!
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!
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. I found 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” clothes. The installation is pretty straight forward and surprisingly mess-free, and I’m going to walk you through the whole thing!
- Non-pasted Wallpaper (Walls Republic carries ONLY non-pasted wallpapers, making them ideal for this kind of installation)
- Paint tray and roller
- Paint Brush
- Rotary cutter and self-healing mat
- X-acto knife
- Measuring tape
- Liquid starch
- Straight edge ruler
Renter-Friendly Wallpaper Installation
Step 1: Measure Your Walls
Start by measuring your walls to determine how many rolls of wallpaper you will need. For my two half walls, I used about 1.5 rolls.
Step 2: Trim Paper Into Strips
Lengthwise along your wall, determine where you want your pattern to start. Mark this spot with a ruler 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.
Before you cut your paper strip, you’ll want to make sure you add ~1” to the length of your wall for wiggle room. For reference, I cut each sheet of wallpaper down to 49″ long for my 48″ wall.
Step 3: Apply Liquid Starch
Start by soaking a roller in a small amount liquid starch and roll off excess liquid using a tray. Next, roll the starch onto the section of your wall where the paper is going. Since the roller is a bit bulky, you’ll need to use a brush along the top and bottom edges of the wall.
Step 4: Attach the Wallpaper Sheet
Next, take your measured and cut sheet of wallpaper and “loosely” attach it at the very top. Take care to match up the vertical seems.
Step 5: Press and Smooth the Paper
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. To soak up excess liquid starch as you smooth the paper down use a rag.
Step 6: Trim Away Excess Paper
And with that, a single stretch of paper is installed! Repeat steps 1-6 until you have applied all sheets of paper to your walls.
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 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 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!
FAQs About This Wallpaper Method
Does the Wallpaper Come Off Clean?
You can see how quickly and easily this Wallpaper came down HERE!
Can this Method be Used on Textured Walls?
After moving into a new house, we attempted to hang (different) non-pasted wallpaper on textured walls using this same method. It still worked great, but I had to make a few adjustments to get the wallpaper to grip. See the slight changes I made HERE.
How has the Wallpaper+Liquid Starch Technique Held up Over Time?
After years of testing and using this method in multiple rooms, I can now say, without hesitation, that this method can successfully be used for long-term applications. Even with fluctuations in temperatures, the paper is still in perfect condition without any peeling, drooping, etc. It’s literally as good as the day I hung it.
Can I Try the Liquid Starch Method Over Existing Wallpaper?
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!
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. 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?
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.
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.
What is the Advantage of Using the Liquid Starch Method Versus Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper?
1) cost – Although peel-and-stick papers don’t require any special supplies to hang it (other than scissors and a level) you can often paper much more space for a lot less money using non-pasted wallpaper. There are, however, tips for cutting the cost of peel-and-stick wallpaper that I’ve mapped out here if you’re interested. Still, I tend to use peel-and-stick papers only for smaller spaces, closets, or accent walls.
2) the ability to re-use it – Non-pasted traditional wallpaper will peel off in perfect sheets that can be used again and again. The same cannot be said true of peel-and-stick wallpaper despite its claims of being removable and reusable.
Can I Skip the Liquid Starch and Tray the Double-Stick Tape Method Instead?
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.
If you’re using a good, thick wallpaper, I suggest you use the liquid starch method to give you the visual results of “real” wallpaper, though fully removable. Maybe save the painters tape+double stick tape to hang thinner papers, such as wrapping paper.
Why Not Just Use Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper Instead?
Peel-and-stick wallpaper is another really viable renter-friendly solution; but it has some pros and cons compared to the liquid starch application. Refer to these posts to learn about hanging peel-and-stick wallpaper in your rental!
Looking for more information on peel-and-stick wallpaper? I’ve got a couple of posts for you: How to hang peel and stick wallpaper, the best places to buy peel-and-stick wallpaper at affordable prices, and 5 ways to cut the cost of removable wallpaper.