How to Cover a Wall With Fabric

Dress Up Your Walls With a Damage-Free, Removable Solution

Fabric covered wall with white shelves displaying decor

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 6 hrs
  • Total Time: 2 days
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Estimated Cost: $Varies depending on fabric

If you are a renter, perhaps you're looking for an innovative way to dress up your walls beyond the simple repainting that is usually allowed by landlords. If you're a homeowner, then you may be looking for something new beyond paint and wallpaper.

A great alternative might be to place removable fabric on your walls instead of paint. Ordinary textile fabric can be applied to your walls with everyday laundry starch, and it can be taken down whenever you want. It's a perfect solution to put fabric on walls without damaging them—especially for renters who may need to return the room to its original condition when moving time comes.

Decorating with fabric on walls is quite similar to the process of hanging wallpaper. If you have worked with wallpaper, you'll have no trouble with this project.

Before You Begin

The first step in this project is to find appropriate fabric. Keep in mind that using a cloth with a distinct, large pattern will require more fabric and time since you'll need to match the pattern at the seams so the design appears uninterrupted. Opt for a simple textile fabric without any cushioned backing, as padded fabric on walls must be attached with hardware.

Check fabric warehouses and bargain bins for lightweight and inexpensive fabrics. Most fabric is 40 to 50 inches wide, and you can calculate how many lengths you'll need by measuring the width of the wall. It's always better to have too much cloth than not enough.

It is also important to wash and completely dry your fabric before hanging. Hand-washing is usually best, because machine washing may fray the edges. Let the fabric dry completely.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Scissors
  • Stepladder
  • Paint roller with low-nap roller cover
  • Paint tray
  • Wallpaper smoothing tool
  • Metal straightedge
  • Sharp utility knife
  • Tape measure


  • Textile fabric
  • Drop cloths
  • Laundry starch


Materials and tools to cover walls with fabric

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald


  1. Prepare the Fabric

    The best removable fabric for walls is textile fabric, which is often used for items like upholstery. Cut the lengths of fabric to fit the wall, allowing about 2 inches of extra fabric at the top and the bottom, and along wall edges. If the lengths of fabric will wrap around windows, it is a good idea to pre-fit them and cut them roughly to size. Precise trimming will happen after you hang the fabric. Working with a helper makes this work much easier.

    Prewash the fabric again, then cut off the selvage edges (the fringe) with scissors.

    Fabric pulled for measurement with tape measure and scissors

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  2. Prepare the Wall

    Wash the wall down and dry it before you begin. Remove cover plates from outlets and wall switches. Cover the floor with drop cloths, as rolling starch onto walls can be a messy operation.

    Shelving removed from wall to prepare for fabric

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  3. Apply the Starch

    You can use liquid starch to attach the fabric to the wall. With this method, the wall will not be damaged and the fabric can be easily removed when the time comes. Use a plastic container with a lid to hold your liquid starch. It can then be stored away if you are interrupted.


    You can also use velcro with damage-free backing to attach fabric to a small section of walls for accent projects. Starch is better for covering the entire wall, as fabric with velcro corners can begin to hang or crease in the center.

    It is usually easiest to apply starch to the walls using a paint roller; this method is less messy and faster than using a brush or dipping the fabric into a container of starch. Make sure to cover all wall surfaces completely. Around open light switches and outlet boxes, be careful not to slop starch onto the fixtures.

    Starch applied to wall with paint roller

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  4. Hang the Fabric

    Hanging the fabric takes patience, but it is not difficult. While the starch is still damp, apply the strips of fabric, one at a time, beginning in one corner and moving across the room. Have a helper stand back from the wall to ensure the pattern remains properly aligned and that it matches at the edges. The fabric should overlap the side corner and the baseboard and ceiling by 1 to 2 inches. At the seams, overlap the fabric strips by about 1/2 inch.

    If necessary, use thumbtacks to secure the strips of fabric at the top. Use a wallpaper smoothing tool to flatten the fabric against the wall.

    Roll more starch over the fabric and let it dry.

    Fabric applied to wall and smoothed out with straightedge

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  5. Trim the Fabric

    When the starch and fabric are dry to the touch, use a straightedge and sharp utility knife to carefully trim the excess fabric at the ceiling line, along baseboards, and around any wood trim. Use care when trimming around outlet and switch boxes, to avoid touching wires with the knife blade.

    After the fabric is fully trimmed, wipe the baseboards and wood trim clean, then put the outlet and switch cover plates back on.

    Utility knife cutting extra fabric from wall edge

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Cleaning and Caring for Fabric Walls

Whenever your walls need cleaning because the fabric gets dirty, use water mixed with a tiny bit of dishwashing detergent and sponge the walls lightly to remove dirt.

When it comes time to remove the fabric, use a wet sponge to soak the corners until they fall away from the walls. The fabric should come right off in complete strips.

Alternative Ideas for Fabric Walls

Want another idea to create a fabric wall that involves no contact with the wall? You can cover pieces of paneling with fabric and either attach them to the wall with removable tacks or velcro strips or lean the panels against the wall. You don't have to cover the whole wall with fabric panels to make a big impact—even a single piece of paneling covered with fabric can be impressive.

  • How can I make my walls look expensive?

    In addition to covering walls with fabric, adding options like wallpaper, large wall art, murals, or a gallery of paintings can make bare walls in your home look more elegant.

  • How do you hang decorative fabric on walls?

    For a removable method, hang decorative fabric on your walls using liquid starch. Opt for stronger wall adhesives like fabric glue or attach the fabric with hardware for a more permanent solution.

  • How can I dress my walls without paint?

    Hanging wallpaper or fabric on your walls is a great way to dress them without using paint. Peel-and-stick murals can also be purchased to create a large impact on your space that's easy to take down in the future.

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