Decor DIY

How to Hang Removable Wallpaper Like a Pro

What is removable wallpaper?

First things first: removable wallpaper (aka temporary, self-adhesive, peelable or peel and stick wallpaper) is basically a GIANT STICKER for your walls. It could be printed on vinyl or woven paper with a self-adhesive backing. Removable wallpaper does NOT require glue. Best of all, because it’s removable, it’s perfect for renters and/or those who are commitment phobic.

Gucci inspired heron wallpaper from an Etsy seller.

Where do I buy it?

Close-up of the wallpaper – notice the thick, woven texture. Love it!

Literally thousands of options are available globally from Etsy and Amazon, with murals and large patterned wallpaper a favorite among designers right now. Tempaper and Chasing Paper are also great brands to choose from.

How easy is this DIY?

On a scale of 1 (hanging a framed art piece) to 10 (building a dresser), it’s a 3 – pretty simple!

Watch this two-minute video just so you can see how easy* it is to hang.
*Disclaimer: I was able to do this DIY on my own, but I highly recommend having someone with you for, at minimal, moral support. To be honest: there are some parts that will 100% suck. 

Recommended Tools

This little squeegee will be your best friend throughout this process!

Felt edged squeegee
Pencil
Ruler
Scissors
Level
Craft knife (i.e. X-acto knife)
Safety pin

“Before” photo of the wall before it’s big makeover

Before Hanging

Clean the Wall
I should have mentioned this first, but removable wallpaper adheres BEST to NON-TEXTURED, NON-POROUS walls. (So avoid textured, brick and cement walls.)

Clean the wall with a damp cloth or sponge and allow it to dry completely. This will allow the wallpaper to stick DIRECTLY to the wall, instead of on dirt or fibers.

Use a ruler and pencil to mark down the wallpaper panel where you’ll be cutting and trimming.

Measure and Trim the Wallpaper
Unless you did a super custom order, the wallpaper panels you receive might be larger than your wall space. So first, measure the height and width of the wall and determine the excess you’ll need to trim.

Lay out all the panels of the wallpaper on the floor IN ORDER, and measure and cut off the excess you won’t need using a pencil, ruler and scissors. BE SURE YOU’RE CUTTING OFF THE EXCESS ON THE CORRECT SIDE. (I once made the mistake of trimming off the wrong side of the last panel, and while it was fixable, it was still a #DIYFail.)

Any creases in the wallpaper will be smoothed and flattered during the hanging process.

Pro tip: LEAVE A QUARTER INCH MORE than you need on the BOTTOM of each panel AND on the right of the last panel. (Or you might want to trim down the outer sides of the first and last panels to center the image for murals.)  

Keep the panels on the floor IN ORDER and now you’re ALMOST ready to go.

Mark Your Starting Point on the Wall
Now this part is especially critical if you have an old house (like I do) where your walls and ceiling might be uneven. Use a level and ruler to mark a horizontal and vertical line from where the top edge of the first panel should be placed.

Use a level and pencil to mark where the corner of the first wallpaper panel should be placed.

If you’re right-handed, start with the left most panel. If you’re left-handed, start with the right most panel.

Peel Off, Stick and Smooth

Okay, here goes! Take the first wallpaper panel, and from the top, peel off 4” from its backing and firmly place this exposed sticky portion on the wall where you marked the starting point.

Peel off just several inches of the wallpaper off its backing to start.

Use your palm to smooth the wallpaper onto the wall.

Use the squeegee to push out air bubbles from the center of the wallpaper to the edges.

Continue to peel off more of the wallpaper from the backing 4-6” at a time, firmly smoothing with your palm and the squeegee as you go.

Getting started with hanging the first panel will be THE WORST part.

THE PART THAT SUCKS: If you start noticing the wallpaper is crooked, just peel it off and start over – the beauty of removable wallpaper! (Once you have about 12” of it hung straight, the rest should hopefully be easy.)

If the width of the wallpaper panel is cumbersome, it might be helpful to have a friend hold the bulk of the wallpaper while you adhere and smooth from the top.

If this is STILL too cumbersome, consider cutting the width of the entire panels in half. The narrower the panels, the easier it will be to apply on the wall straight. (You will just have more panels and seams to line up.)

HANG IN THERE! Continue this process with the rest of the wallpaper panels, being sure the edges and pattern line up to properly.

Don’t stress if you can’t smooth out ALL the bubbles, I have an easy fix for that below!

Second panel is up! Almost there.

After Hanging

Trim off any excess wallpaper from the edges and/or off baseboards by using a sharp blade (i.e. razor blade or X-acto knife). Protect your wall by placing the ruler between the wallpaper and the blade while cutting.

IF there are any air bubbles (this is very common with thinner, vinyl wallpapers), use the safety pin to “pop” the bubbles and the squeegee to flatten and squeeze out the air. I’ve also noticed in my wallpaper that the bubbles eventually just disappear over time.

IF you notice any seams, gaps, or overlaps between the panels, don’t stress out! Chances are, only your perfectionist self sees it, and nobody else will be able to tell without putting their nose up against the wall.

And we’re all done!

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5 Comments

  • Dave Nadkarni

    These tips are so helpful and inspiring, particularly for people like me who loathe DIY stuff. Keep it goin!

    • missnataliewong

      Trying! Isn’t DIY the worst? 😀

  • Emily

    You make it seem simple. I’m not so sure!!! Love love love the wallpaper

  • Miriam

    These tips were super helpful! Would like to add a note. If I were to do it again, I’d also leave a 1/4″ on the left panel. None of my walls are straight so now I have a gap on the left and not on the right but at least everything is centered and straight

    • missnataliewong

      Glad you found this to be useful! Great suggestion for next time, thank you!

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