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Close-up of a hand smoothing wallpaper with a plastic tool, as it’s applied to a wall.



Peel-and-stick wallpaper is one of those miracle products we don’t know how we ever lived without. Less expensive, faster, and easier to apply than traditional wallpaper or tile, it gives renters and anyone who likes to change up their decor frequently, a low-commitment option to make a big visual impact in any room. When it’s time to move or redecorate, just peel it off and voila – it’s like it was never there. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work. But if you’ve never used peel-and-stick, there are some things to be aware of before you dive in.

It’s Not Always Removable

While peel and stick wallpaper is quite fast and simple to put up, it doesn’t always come down as easily as you might expect. Not all peel-and-stick wallpaper is actually designed to be removable. So read the packaging carefully if you’re looking for something temporary. And even the removable kind of peel-and-stick isn’t foolproof. It can damage some surfaces, especially if they are freshly painted, or have a matte or flat finish.

If your peel-and-stick does become overly stuck to the underlying surface, you're likely to have to repair and repaint some patches of drywall or spend time removing residual adhesive after you pry it off. To minimize the chances of this happening, read and follow the application instructions carefully. Every product is different, so even if you’ve used peel-and-stick before, read the instructions each time! Also, avoid storing peel-and-stick in a car, garage, or other uninsulated space, and instead, let it acclimate to the temperature in the room where you plan to install it for at least 24 hours before you start to ensure the adhesive can work as designed.

It’s Not for Textured Surfaces

If your walls have a heavy texture, peel-and-stick (or really any wallpaper) is not a good option. For starters, it may not adhere well to the irregular surface, making the application process challenging and time consuming. Then even if you’re able to get it up, the end result will show the lumps and bumps of the wall surface underneath, marring the look. If you’re determined to give it a try, a heavily patterned peel-and-stick with a thicker vinyl-like texture is probably your best bet to camouflage the wall underneath it. However, when it’s time to remove the peel-and-stick, you may find that it doesn’t come off cleanly. Consider yourself warned!

It May Not Be as Durable as You’d Like

Even if you follow all the wall preparation instructions to the letter, you may find that your peel-and-stick is slip-sliding down the wall, or coming unstuck and peeling away from the wall in various places. What’s up with that? If the air in your home is too humid, too hot, or too cold during the wallpaper’s application, it can affect the adhesive and cause it to have trouble gripping. Also, because removable peel-and-stick is designed to be temporary, it’s generally not very heavy duty. So unless you intend to change it out every year or two, it may not be the best choice for an area that gets heavy use. Most peel-and-stick also shouldn’t be used too close to heat sources, so avoid fireplace surrounds and the backsplash area behind cooktops.

Beware of Wrinkles

While you don’t have to mess with booking and pasting as you would with traditional wallpaper (hallelujah!), applying peel-and-stick isn’t always smooth sailing. Many peel-and-sticks have a vinyl-like texture and fairly quick-setting adhesive, so it’s not always possible to remove any wrinkles, creases, or bubbles that you may find after it’s up. You’ll need to take a slow and steady approach, applying small sections of paper at a time. Use a thin, firm edge like a plastic spackle/putty knife or a credit card to iron out any bumps before moving on to the next small section. If peel-and-stick comes off the roll heavily wrinkled (which sometimes happens – especially with cheaper products), it’s probably not salvageable and you’re better off just discarding that section.

Although peel-and-stick wallpaper isn’t a perfect solution for every application, it is a great product with lots of benefits. Have fun decorating and take a look at The Hawthorne’s blog for lots more great decor and lifestyle tips.