How to Hang Peel and Stick Wallpaper

Give your home an upgrade with peel and stick wallpaper

Woman applying wallpaper

Gillian Vann / Stocksy

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 2 hrs - 1 day
  • Total Time: 3 hrs - 1 day
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $500

Simple, single-color walls can give your home a minimalist or monochromatic appearance, which can be an appealing design choice, but if you prefer more color or vibrant designs, then wallpaper is an excellent option that can immediately transform the appearance of the room.

Peel and stick wallpaper is an affordable type of wallpaper that doesn't require the use of messy paste to apply the wallpaper to the walls. Instead, this product has an adhesive backing that is made to stick to walls with very little effort. To hang peel and stick or removable wallpaper, simply measure the area, align the wallpaper, peel the backing, and apply the wallpaper to the wall, smoothing any bubbles with a smoothing tool. While this is the basic procedure, more detailed instructions are provided below, so that you can learn how to hang peel and stick wallpaper.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Tape measure
  • Sponge or cloth
  • Steel ruler
  • Pencil
  • Plastic smoothing tool
  • Utility knife
  • Ladder

Materials

  • Peel and stick or removable wallpaper
  • Cleaning solution

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Surface

    Before you can start to put up the wallpaper, it's necessary to ensure that the wall is properly prepared. Start by removing the faceplates from any electrical outlets or light switches so that the wallpaper can be cut to fit around the opening.

    When all of the faceplates have been removed, use a mild cleaning solution and a sponge or cloth to wash the surface of the walls, ensuring that the wallpaper adhesive will not be obstructed by dirt or grime. Allow the walls to fully dry before proceeding.

  2. Create a Guide Line

    One of the most important steps during wallpaper installation is creating a guideline for the first strip. This guide will serve as the reference point for ensuring every other strip of wallpaper is lined up properly. You can start in a corner or in the middle of a wall, but it's necessary to make sure the guide is straight.

    Use a steel ruler to measure the width of the wallpaper. (It's typically about 20 1/2 inches in width.) Measure 20 1/2 inches (or the width of the wallpaper) from the leftmost corner of the room or from a designated spot in the middle of the wall. From this point, use a level or another straight edge to create a vertical guideline running at a 90-degree angle (or perpendicular) to both the baseboard and the ceiling, though some homes may have slight discrepancies because ceilings, baseboards, and even the walls of the room are not always completely straight and level.

    Keep in mind that if you started in the middle of the wall, then it may be beneficial to draw a second guideline to indicate the starting point of your measurement. This will help to ensure the wallpaper is perfectly straight during application.

  3. Apply the First Strip

    With the guideline drawn on the wall, you are ready to apply the first strip of wallpaper. Measure the height of the wall and cut the wallpaper strip slightly longer so that it overlaps the baseboard and the edge of the ceiling.

    Line up the wallpaper according to the guideline. Starting from the ceiling, peel about 12 inches of backing off of the peel and stick wallpaper, then apply it to the wall. As previously noted, make sure there is a slight overhang at the ceiling to avoid any gaps due to an uneven ceiling. After application, this extra wallpaper will be trimmed so that it sits flush with the ceiling.

    Work your way down the strip of wallpaper, peeling the backing a little at a time and sticking the wallpaper to the wall, while following the guideline. Use a ladder if necessary and also make use of a smoothing tool to flatten, smooth, and remove any air bubbles or air pockets from the wallpaper. The wallpaper should overlap the baseboard slightly and will be trimmed after application so that it's flush with the baseboard.

  4. Measure, Cut, and Align Subsequent Strips

    With the first strip in place, it's a little easier to apply subsequent strips of wallpaper moving forward. Measure the length of the strip and make sure to account for the pattern on the wallpaper so that additional strips will line up properly and create a cohesive pattern.

    Cut the strips and begin applying them to the wall by peeling the backing a little at a time and smoothing the wallpaper as you go. The second strip should slightly overlap the first strip by about 1/4 inch—just make sure that the pattern or design properly matches during application.

    If the wallpaper hangs over the doorframe, a window frame, an electrical outlet, a light switch, or any other permanent obstruction, simply trim the wallpaper so that it can be installed around the obstruction. Repeat this method of installation for each strip of wallpaper until the entire room is complete.

    Warning

    Cutting wallpaper near exposed electrical outlets and switches poses a severe electrical shock hazard. Turn off electrical power to the affected outlets and switches before trimming wallpaper near them.

  5. Smooth and Trim Wallpaper

    The installed wallpaper will likely still have some rough edges, overhanging pieces, and maybe even air bubbles trapped under the surface. To finish this job, use a smoothing tool to go over the entire surface of the wallpaper and smooth out any remaining air bubbles.

    Next, use your utility knife to trim the wallpaper at the ceiling, the baseboards, and around any obstructions, like a door, window, counter, cupboard, or electrical outlet. Take care to make clean cuts, so that the peel and stick wallpaper can fit flush on the wall without overlapping the edge of a window frame or partially obstructing an electrical outlet.

  6. Reinstall Faceplates and Clean the Walls

    After you have finished cutting, applying, and trimming the wallpaper and you are satisfied with how the job turned out, reinstall the faceplates on the electrical outlets and light switches around the room. Then use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe down the newly installed wallpaper. Just make sure the cloth isn't too wet, as excess water can damage the peel and stick wallpaper.