Peel and Stick Wallpaper: Simple or Simply Vexing?

Thinking of trying temporary wallpaper as a spring spruce up? As long as you apply it correctly and to the proper surface, you will enjoy your new wallcovering for many years to come. Yet, it might not be the right choice for you.

Like its traditional counterpart, removable wallpaper comes in many designs, colors, and styles and uses the same installation tools. Available as smooth paper or with textures like brick, wood, and cement, you can purchase either long rolls or pre-cut panels. Similar in price structures too, individual roles begin at $30 with more pricier patterns going for $100 and up. 

The benefits of peel and stick are significant. Easy to apply requiring no glue or soaking pre-pasted paper, you will save prep, clean up, and drying time over its traditional twin. Easy to clean with a damp microfiber cloth, temporary wallpaper is also removable (a major plus for renters!) and reusable.

When it comes to the challenges of temporary wallpaper, take heed. It is tedious and harder to match the seams. The glue in traditional wallpaper helps slide the seams into place and hold them. It is also less durable than pasted wall coverings which actually become part of the wall versus a decal sticking to the surface. Speaking of installation, it tends to bubble and peel more than its traditional twin. Susceptible to heat, humidity, and water, think twice before installing in the kitchen, bathroom, or near a fireplace (or plan to replace it sooner than you may have wanted).

Also, it is VERY sticky. I remember reading about one woman’s advice not to do this when the children are home or to just plan on putting $100 in the swear jar as the paper often sticks wrong, sticks to itself, or sticks to your hair during the installation. This can be minimized by peeling the backing paper just a few inches at a time and starting and smoothing from the seam side outward.

Most importantly, don’t rush into the project. Your walls must be smooth, and painted with a premium semi-gloss, satin or eggshell finish and cured 2 to 4 weeks before applying. And allow your wallpaper to rest before adhering to the wall; in other words, cut the proper lengths and lay them on the floor following manufacturer’s suggested timelines.

Despite the tempting benefits of peel and stick wallpaper, the downsides are considerable.  In my opinion, give me DIY pre-pasted wallpaper any day or hire a professional wallpaper installer. 

Barbara Graceffa owns and operates Secretary of the Interior in Quincy, MA offering creative solutions at reasonable rates. Learn more about her services, workshops and quilt shows at and enjoy her art quilts on Instagram @secretaryinteriordecorating. You can reach her at 617.921.6033.

By Barbara Graceffa

Barbara Graceffa, CEO of Secretary of the Interior, serves decorating clients; assists with professional organizing, home staging and moving assistance; teaches on these subjects; and delivers quilt lectures and trunk shows.

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