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Peel and Stick Wallpaper: A Complete How To

Peel and stick wallpaper is the easiest way to transform a space.

Wallpaper can add design, texture and style to previously uninspired room. It tends to give a maximalist look, and create a focal point.

Peel and stick wallpaper make this change even easier. Peel and stick wallpaper goes on quickly with minimal tools, and is repositionable so you can get the perfect application.

If you’re interested in using peel and stick wallpaper in your home, keep reading for all the details on it, and for a complete how-to. Also, be sure to check out the before and after pics of my recent toilet closet refresh.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you have any questions, please see my disclaimer page.

All About Peel and Stick Wallpaper

Peel and stick wallpaper

Peel and stick wallpaper is a thin sheet of printed paper that comes with adhesive on the back. It is basically a large sticker.

If you’ve ever tried using pasted wallpaper, you know that it can be a bit of a challenge to apply at times. It is thick, and feels more like real paper. This means it can crease, stretch, and get oversaturated with glue.

Peel and stick wallpaper doesn’t have these problems. It goes on smoothly and holds where you put it, meaning there is less sliding around and moving than when using traditional pasted wallpaper.

Peel and stick wallpaper also comes in tons of different options.

You can get smooth printed paper or textured grasscloth paper. The pattern styles are endless.

Here are some of my favorite peel and stick wallpaper options:

Frequently Asked Questions about Peel and Stick Wallpaper

Before we get into how to apply peel and stick wallpaper, let’s look at a few of the frequently asked questions.

Do you overlap peel and stick wallpaper?

You don’t have to overlap peel and stick wallpaper, but it can definitely help to do so just a bit. If you overlap the the same just a hair, it will make the seam almost imperceptible.

Do you need to prime before peel and stick wallpaper?

If your wall is bare drywall, you definitely need to prime the wall before you put peel and stick wallpaper on it.

Is there a trick to peel and stick wallpaper?

Peel and stick wallpaper in living room

There isn’t a specific trick to using peel and stick wallpaper, but there are some best practices.

These include making sure you are starting with a clean, dry wall that has paint or primer on it, using a laser level to ensure the paper goes on completely level, and overlapping the seams just a hair.

If you do these things, your peel and stick wallpaper application should come out looking amazing.

Do you use water with peel and stick wallpaper?

You do not use water with peel and stick wallpaper. The only reason you might use it would be if you wanted to wash the wall beforehand with a 1:1 mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water.

This will ensure that the wall is clean and that there is nothing that would make the wallpaper not adhere like it should.

How do you hide seams on peel and stick wallpaper?

The best way to hide your seems when applying peel and stick wallpaper is to overlap the seams just a bit.

In fact, you don’t even really need to overlap the seams if you get the two pieces close enough to each other.

But, if you’re struggling with getting them aligned perfectly. overlapping the seam the tiniest bit will make your seams look flawless.

Is peel and stick wallpaper easier to install than paste?

Having applied both peel and stick wallpaper and pasted wallpaper, I found that peel and stick wallpaper is easier to apply and less time consuming.

When you are applying pasted wallpaper, there are extra steps involved, and the paper tends to be thicker. This just makes everything take a little bit longer.

Plus, I found it easier to cut the peel and stick wallpaper neatly than it was to cut the pasted wallpaper.

Peel and stick wallpaper

Why does peel and stick wallpaper fall off?

Peel and stick wallpaper can fall off if you have a wall that was not properly cleaned and degreased. If there is grease or residue on your walls, it can cause the wallpaper to not adhere correctly, and later fall down.

You can also find some cheap peel and stick wallpaper options just don’t have enough stickiness to work well, so I recommend looking at reviews to make sure others have found the wallpaper to be quality.

How smooth do walls need to be for peel and stick wallpaper?

Peel and stick wallpaper doesn’t tend to be very thick. If your walls are textured, you definitely run the risk of seeing bumps through the wallpaper.

For optimal results, your walls should be untextured, and fairly smooth.

Why does my peel and stick wallpaper keep bubbling?

Peel and stick wallpaper can bubble if there is a residue or grease on the wall, or if the paper was not smoothed out completely during application.

If you find this is happening, you may be able to peel the sheet up a bit and attempt to smooth it down (using a smoothing tool) in incremental sections.

I have also found that just smoothings the bubbles down repeatedly worked after a few days. Work towards the seams, so that any trapped air can release.

Can I put peel and stick wallpaper on bare drywall?

wallpaper in bedroom

You cannot put peel-and-stick wallpaper on bare drywall if you want to ensure that you can remove it without damage.

Having a layer of paint or primer on the wall provides a slicker surface, making it easier to remove the peel and stick wallpaper without pulling the drywall paper off of the wall (which would require time-consuming fixes when you want to repaint someday).

Is it cheaper to paint or peel and stick wallpaper?

It is definitely cheaper to paint your walls rather than put up peel and stick wallpaper.

To give you an example, I put peel and stick wallpaper up in the toilet closet of my bathroom. To do just one accent wall, it cost me $64. To put wallpaper up in the whole room would have cost me about $200.

By contrast, it would take me about a half of a gallon of paint to paint that same toilet closet. A gallon of good quality paint costs about $75 (and much less if you catch it on a sale). And I would have had a half gallon of paint left over.

So painting is much cheaper than applying peel and stick wallpaper.

How to Apply Peel and Stick Wallpaper

I applied peel and stick wallpaper in the toilet closet in the master bathroom at my home. Here is a before picture:

Peel and stick wallpaper - Before

I had painted the surrounding bathroom in a bold pink, Sherwin Williams Redend Point. It was their 2023 Color of the Year, and worked perfectly with the tile in my space.

Redend Point

I felt like it was too much to also put it in the toilet closet though, and wanted something to tie all the colors together.

I found the perfect wallpaper to do this, and got to work.

Here is how to apply peel and stick wallpaper.

What tools do I need for peel and stick wallpaper?

The tools that you will need to apply peel and stick wallpaper are:

Steps to Applying Peel and Stick Wallpaper

Step 1: Clean the Wall.

Using either a degreasing cleaser or a 1:1 mixture of water and rubbing alcohol, clean the entire surface that you plan to put peel and stick wallpaper on. Let it dry completely.

Step 2: Mark Level and Plumb Lines.

To be sure that your wallpaper looks perfect when you’re done, mark your wall with level and plumb lines.

I used my laser level to do this, because I found that it is the easiest way to make sure my pattern is perfect. You could also use a long level and draw lines on the wall with a pencil.

Using a Laser Level to Apply Peel and stick wallpaper

Step 3: Start at the Top.

Peel back a bit of the adhesive backing from the peel and stick wallpaper. Then allowing a little overhang onto the ceiling and making sure the wallpaper lines up with your plumb line (the level line that goes vertical), begin to apply the wallpaper to the wall.

Start in small sections, and smooth it out with your smoothing tool as you go.

Applying Peel and stick wallpaper

Continue to smooth out the wallpaper until you reach the bottom of your wall.

Then, using your smoothing tool and razor, cut the wallpaper where it meets the trim.

Here is how I cut the wallpaper to get a perfect edge (on fast-forward, I actually cut it much slower!):

Step 4: Line Up the Pattern.

All wallpaper has a “repeat” measurement. This is how frequently the pattern is repeated on the paper.

This is important, because it correlates to how much wallpaper you are going to need. If you have a 40 square foot wall, you’re going to need more than 40 square feet of wallpaper because some will be wasted getting the patterns to line up.

So, when you start your second strip of peel and stick wallpaper, line up the patterns and remove the backing.

You probably want to overlap the seams just a bit to make sure your wall has a seamless look.

Lining up Peel and Stick Wallpaper

Then apply it to your wall the same way you did the first sheet, smoothing out any bubbles as you go.

Once you’re convinced the pattern is lined up right, cut the top and bottom edges off.

As a note, some people find it easier cut measure the wall and then cut a strip of wallpaper out before putting it up. You can definitely do this, but if you do, make sure you leave plenty of room on either side and account for where the pattern will match up before cutting.

Step 5: Cut Out Outlets, etc.

I didn’t have any outlets on my wall, but I did need to cut around the toilet paper holder. Using my razor, I carefully cut and smoothed out the area.

Cutting Peel and Stick Wallpaper

Step 6: Smooth Out Any Bubbles.

At this point, you may see a few bubbles here and there.

Smooth them out with your smoothing tool, or just simply press them with your fingers. I had to do this several times over a few days, always working towards the seams of the paper, but they all went away.

Peel and Stick Wallpaper – The After Picture

Here is how the toilet closet turned out. (Sorry for the distorted angles. It was the only way to get this tiny room into one picture!)

Peel and Stick Wallpaper - After Picture

The wallpaper made a huge impact in the space, perfectly tying together all the different shades that were already in the bathroom.

Peel and Stick Wallpaper - a Complete How To

Plus, it took me less than 2 hours to complete this project.

Final Thoughts on Peel and Stick Wallpaper

Peel and stick wallpaper is a relatively inexpensive, easy and fast way to completely transform your space. If you’re looking to use wallpaper, I would definitely recommend checking out peel and stick options.

Or, if you think you want to try your hand at pasted wallpaper, I have a tutorial here on how to apply pasted wallpaper. Check it out!

Thanks for sharing!