Peel and Stick Wallpapers over Low VOC Paints 

We have been having a lot of troubles with our removable wallpapers peeling off from apparent perfect surfaces. Fortunately with the help of our industry leaders, suppliers and fellow installers we have been able to determine the issue more clearly and get to an easy solution for the problem.

Low, no or zero VOC paints are an amazing eco alternative to wall painting and ecologic home sustainability and they minimize the amount of volatile compounds that get released to the environment. Some brands that offer low or no VOC (volatile organic compounds) are: Behr, Benjamin Moore, Rust-Oleum, Valspar, Safe Ecoat, Ecopaints.

The biggest challenge pros and non pros are having right now is the fact that many perfect wallpapers and decals are just not adhering properly to walls painted with low, no or zero VOC paints.

As these paints are the most common in the market right now their new formulations have altered the way the wallpaper interacts with them causing weird issues to happen.

Formulations in these types of paints vary so much the behavior of peel and stick wallpaper over them is unpredictable, while over some the wallpaper sticks perfectly, unfortunately over others it just peels off.

A decal peeling off a low VOC painted wall

But there is an easy solution for it!

Experts have discovered low VOC paints create a surface contamination on the wall that needs to be washed before applying peel and stick wallpaper, like a silicone covering that needs to be removed with a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water. Just like that!

How to Wash your Wall 

Prepare a cleaning solution with 70 % isopropyl alcohol and 30 % water in a spray bottle, or just buy a bottle of 70% Rubbing Alcohol at the pharmacy that's already prepared and ready to use.

Soak a clean, lint-free cloth with the cleaning solution until it is dripping wet. 

Clean the installation area with overlapping strokes. Especially in the first cleaning, you may notice some migrated paint particles on the cloth.

Thoroughly soak another clean cloth with the cleaning solution and wash the wall again. Installers have found that cleaning the wall two to three times with the mixture can boost adhesion for nearly any peel and stick applied to a painted wall.

Touch the wall immediately. It will feel cooler to the touch than an unwashed area, due to the alcohol in the cleaning solution. When it no longer feels cool, it is dry and you can proceed with the wallpaper or decal install.

A step done before not after installing a wallpaper

If you have trouble with a wallpaper sticking already installed over a painted wall with VOC paints, by washing the wall you are not going to be able to make the wallpaper stick again.

As we commented before the low VOC paint creates a layer over the wall that contaminates the adhesive in the wallpaper ruining the wallpaper adhesive forever. For that reason the wall washing must be done before placing the wallpaper, not after.

Our advice: always try a sample 

We offer affordable samples of almost all our products for you to test their suitability on your walls. The only reason we offer such affordable samples with free shipping is to secure you a reliable test.

If you are not sure if your walls have been previously painted with low VOC, testing a sample is the only way to guarantee a successful install.

Testing a sample is very simple: take your sample and cut it in half (reserve the other half for later) . Stick your half sample to the wall and leave it there for a few days, remove it later checking if it offers any resistance, it should remove without residue but it should offer some resistance. For example if it has edges lifted or removing it was too easy, if you notice bubbles forming after installation then washing the wall should be done. Test the other half of your sample after washing the wall and see the difference in adhesion between both halves of the same sample!


1 comment

  • Bernadette

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have had issues with some my peel and stick wall paper. Coincidentally, not the product I purchased from Koho. I had newly painted walls and used a peel and strick that just would not adhere. I did a cleaning, but mot with alcohol. Appreciate the info.

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.