THE TRUTH ABOUT WALLPAPER INSTALLATION

All advice stated in this blog post is uncompromised advice and it is not intended to substitute or override any of our installation instructions. Tips and tricks stated here might not be useful for everybody and every scenario. If you have no experience do not risk it and get a pro to help!

This article is based on recollections of customer service logs over the years, it is not our intention to offend. Anecdotes are exclusively as learning examples of real life experiences. 

We all run super busy lives, we see a beautiful mural and we just want to have it. Once it arrives we realize this has a learning curve. In that process we often miss or overlook very important information. Advertisement and social media makes it all look so simple and it actually is with the right conditions and mindset. If you saw a 30 seconds wallpaper install video from Instagram, please watch it again once you read this article: Walls are painted, clean, smooth, and most of the time panels are completely misaligned yet no one seems to care!

Your experience with wallpapers will affect the outcome of your installation. If you haven't done wallpaper before but you are ultra detail oriented you will have a hard time installing wallpaper. If you have no experience (even if you are handy) expect some minor misalignments and try to look at the overall project rather than tiny details. 

Let’s compare with simple example a similar task: how many of you have made a mess while trying to paint one simple little wall? Wallpapering is just like painting a wall, can take about the same time and while it might look simple, it is a complex task. For this reason there are professional wall painters as well as professional wallpaper installers. A pro has enough experience to make things look easy and fast because that’s what they do every day, they are specialized and they get paid for it because they know how to do it. 

Our Wallpaper Installation Video was performed by David, a very pro guy with a sharp eye for alignment, and a hundred tricks to make a wallpaper look seamless. In our video we need to show you how to make things as they should be done, he makes it look super easy because for him it already is. David’s main advice when installing wallpaper is to have panels a little taller than your actual wall height and leave a little remnant at the top and bottom of the wall, he says:

 “Most walls have deformations and if the panels are the exact height of the wall you might start seeing a gap appearing at the top or the bottom of the installation. Just try not to be too tight, 2-3 extra inches can help a lot.”

Most Common issues during installation:

Our incident rate with issues during installation is surprisingly low between 2 - 4%. For us it’s awesome considering we sell wallpapers online to the general public! At our worst period our incident rate went up to 5%.

So at our worst time 5 people out of 100 had issues with their wallpaper and contacted us looking for a solution. You don’t like to think you are going to be within those 5 but it can happen to anyone. 

No. 1 Problem reported always: Removable wallpapers installed over textured walls! 

We cannot say it enough, and yet it still happens all the time. Customers say: “I read the Safety Information but my wall is not THAT MUCH TEXTURED, it is just SLIGHTLY TEXTURED”. If your wall is not smooth, it is textured, period! We do offer materials for textured walls, please save yourself from the awful and also dangerous experience. 

No. 2 Wrong Wall Measurements

Measure twice, order once. Measure your wall with a measure tape. Never use a phone app, please just don't. For every wall measured with a phone app we have a customer service inquire and unfortunately the measurement is always short.

When measuring for complex areas it's not about the exact square footage but the overall area to cover. You can read our article How to Measure your Space

No. 3 Misalignment Issues

There are a few different scenarios for this, wallpaper stretching, wallpaper not aligning properly in some areas, wallpaper aligning in the top but not the bottom. 

Wallpaper stretching: all self adhesive films will have some stretch rate, millimetric (1-2 millimeters per 8-9 feet tall). The stretching rate of your wallpaper will be exactly the same for all panels. When aligning wallpaper panels during an install you might notice the top matches perfectly but the bottom is 2 mil. off, just trust the process, as you peel the backing paper you will see the misalignment disappear, just avoid using excessive force when installing a wallpaper. 

Wallpaper not aligning properly in some areas: This happens all the time, to pros as well as beginners: You are installing the wallpaper over a wall!!! There are as many straight and perfect walls as there are crooked walls with deformations. Many walls have bumps or depressions that are not visible by naked eye but the problem does come out during a wallpaper install. 

In this scenario the wallpaper does not match and or creases in some areas even when the Repeat was checked out before hanging it. If this happens to you there is no solution for it other than try to cope with it or abort installation. Never pull and try to force the material in place. When this happens you need to place the wallpaper to match at it’s best without pulling and keep installing the rest of the panels. These issues usually happen in small areas on the wall and once the install is finished you will not notice it in the overall project. 

Wallpaper aligning at the top but not the bottom: Simple and proper alignment is crucial during an install. If your panels are tall, never do it alone, pros go in pairs almost always! In a 8 feet tall panel 1º single degree off at the top will cause half an inch of misalignment at the bottom. Some prints are more easy to manage than others, some look fine even if they are not perfect, others you either do it perfectly or they look like the bad intent of a wallpaper. Because this can be a frustrating process if you are detail oriented we recommend to reserve 1 hour per panel to install to have an idea of the patience this step requires.

No. 4 Falling off for “no apparent reason”

Need to know: When a wallpaper is not attached properly to the wall it won’t fall right away, it can take days even weeks before seeing the wallpaper lifting the wall.

These cases are difficult to determine since transparent communication is the key, customers usually get defensive when we ask a few questions but in our experience wallpapers do not fall without a cause.

Manufacturing defects in a lot of wallpaper material: We always do testing but are unable to determine with absolute certainty a defective lot unless customers report weird things happening. For us to have a bad lot, all of the orders from that lot will have problems. When one single customer is having a “non apparent reason issue” and it’s 1 out of 30 orders printed in the same paper and the same day, there is an underlying issue related with installation or wall condition.

Dirty Walls: How much dust is on your walls? It can be a lot! If you did some other reno at home and you want to finish with a wallpaper just clean your wall!!! Accumulated dust on a wall can for sure damage the adhesive, the most dust the less the wallpaper is going to stick. Installing a removable wallpaper over a dusty wall is to install the wallpaper on the dust not the wall. Bad thing is you cannot remove the dust from the adhesive afterwards.

Recently Painted Walls: If you don't tell us we cannot know! If you paint and then you want to wallpaper you also need to wait 4 weeks (not days) before applying any peel and stick wallpaper (any brand) on that wall. Even low VOC paints keep emitting low grade fumes for weeks after, paint looks dry but it’s not! If you install wallpaper those fumes have nowhere to go, will generate massive bubbles on your wallpaper, the fumes also damage permanently the adhesive on your wallpaper. 

Installing on Cracked Paint and Damaged Walls: Wallpapers are intended to protect the wall not to repair it. Wall needs to be in good condition prior to applying wallpapers.

Air conditioning completely turned off while on vacation for 15 days during hot summer: Interior decoration removable wallpapers are susceptible to drastic temperature changes. After some time a wallpaper will become more resistant to those changes but a newly installed wallpaper will for sure suffer.

Stain Blocking Paints or Primers: Stain blocking paints are formulated to block anything trying to get bonded to it. There is no way you can know for sure if a wall previously painted by a former owner or tenant is stain blocking. If you have a stain blocking paint you won’t be able to install the wallpaper, it just won’t stick. We had a customer going through this, the wallpaper pasted on other walls but not the single one intended for the install.

Bad decisions can also influence the outcome:  

Horizontal installation

Please don’t do this. Every time someone asks us about this we know they are first timers. No offense, it looks like a good idea for some spaces. Unfortunately a horizontal installation is extremely difficult without experience. 

The wrong professional

We will do an article dedicated to this entirely. The handyman is not a wallpaper installer. One time a customer told us her installer had 20 years experience painting walls: He painted the wall and right after sealed it with a nice peel and stick wallpaper. Wet paint fumes lifted the whole thing and damaged the adhesive. 

An old school traditional wallpaper installer does not necessarily know about peel and stick wallpaper, asking for the right experience is key. One time we had a customer telling us our products were a disgrace: The installer removed all backing papers at once and tossed the panels on the wall expecting the panels to “slide” on the wall just like the traditional does when you apply wet glue. 

Ask your installer to read the instructions prior starting, if possible consult them prior ordering the wallpaper about the materials you intend to purchase. 

Respect the repeat

It's not just chopping it and thinking it's going to match somewhere always just because! When purchasing wallpaper, always check for the repeat information, not all wallpapers have the same repeat rate. When wallpapering a half wall the repeat rate can either be perfect or generate a lot of remnant. Never get a panel and cut it 2 or 3 times expecting it to match perfectly and magically without calculating if the repeat will work. This can sound silly, you do not want to know how serious this issue is.

Final thoughts and silver lining

We can keep going for hours. I guess we have enough material to make a full 8 episodes docu-series on Netflix! Anything you can imagine or not we have been through.

My personal opinion: if you are going to jump into something better do it with open eyes. This full article might seem a bit intimidating but reality will hit anyways, we rather give you all the tools to make an informed decision. Either way you are not alone and if you have a problem we are here to help!

Are your walls normal, clean, smooth, do you leave your AC under 80º when you go on vacation? Are you patient? Expecting a result based on your experience? Enjoy things more than suffer them? Then you are within the 95 out of 100 people who will be super happy with the new wallpaper from Koko Art Shop!

Often we see mind-blowing reviews form full term pregnant moms who hanged full walls of wallpaper by themselves in 40 minutes "it was so easy"; and then a pro installer in unable to align properly a 3 feet tall panel from a 2 panel mural. I guess each wallpaper experience is very personal.

Remember this article is a compilation of incidents in a very long period of time. The vast majority of our customers have very happy walls and enjoyed the process as well as the results. 

We will lose some sales with this article, but if we want to achieve a relationship with a customer of transparency and communication we might need to take the lead 😌. For sure will win more awesome friends and if you have any question or concern not listed in this guide just ask us!

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