Peel and Stick Wallpapers over Low VOC Paints 

A 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. But the solution is easier than you might think!


During drying paints emit volatile organic compounds (VOC) ; the smell we normally associate with drying paint has some level of toxicity and many people are sensitive to it. Paint industry developed a new formulation that emits less VOC, but creates a silicon type of surface that (in some cases) repels peel and stick wallpapers.

We are not paint specialists. Consult with your paint supplier if your paint is low VOC, often this is disclaimed in the label of the paint.


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

Low or No VOC paints are less toxic and overall safest in the market. You do not need to avoid them if you want to install a peel and stick wallpaper. There is a super easy solution for this!

Easy solution 

Many customers paint before wallpapering, but others move in and the walls are already painted with no information about the type of paint.

With or without information about your type of paint always try a sample for a few days, if you see any corner lifting like in the picture above, washing your wall with rubbing alcohol will avoid any adhesion troubles. 

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 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. 

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 you can find instructions on how to do it here: How to Try a 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.