Peel and Stick Challenges and how to Solve Them

Yes... things can go wrong 

All advice stated in this blog not intended to substitute or override any of our installation instructions. Tips and tricks stated here might not be useful for everybody.

This article is based on recollections of customer service logs over the years. Anecdotes are learning examples of real life experiences. 

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. 

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:

 “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 issues below can be avoided by reading installation instructions and checking your order upon arrival, even if you wont be using it right away. Check panel match or pattern repeat throughout your order before installing.

No. 1 Problem: Wallpaper Failure due to improper surface

Removable peel and stick wallpaper will fail when installed on a textured wall. Common types of wall textures are: Orange Peel, Popcorn, Knockdown, Slap Brush, Sanded Walls.

Removable wallpapers have low grade adhesive. This feature allows removal with no damage, but need a full contact surface to stay put. As wall texture makes the surface irregular, the wallpaper has less contact area to stay attached.

An acknowledgement box needs to be clicked on selected materials as "not suitable for textured walls" before adding to cart, instructions are filled with the same disclaimer.

Yet it still happens. 

If your wall is not smooth and free of any deformation, then it is textured. You need to trust us when we say don't do it. 

Nevertheless we offer an amazing material for textured walls Long Term Peel and Stick, 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

Open and check the full order before installing. Extend your panels on the floor and check panel match thought all your wallpaper. If your order is as expected before installation but you are having troubles during the process check all the points below:

Wallpaper stretching: all peel and stick films have stretch rate, 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.

When force is applied while removing the backing paper, more stretching rate will be experienced. 

The backing paper needs to be removed with both hands in horizontal and parallel position, gently, pulling evenly, same tension on both sides.You will feel a slight resistance but never pull hard. If you feel the need to apply force, then you are doing it wrong. Never pull the backing paper with just one hand, or favoring left or right directions.

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. A perfect wallpaper requires a perfect wall. Most walls are not perfect. Many have bumps or depressions, matte paints tend to hide such imperfections. A wallpaper installation will make evident irregularities on the wall surface. 

A pro should do an in depth assessment of the wall prior installing wallpaper. Solve any issue by skim coating, sanding and priming to even the wall.

If this happens to a DIYer during installation, the wallpaper won't not match or/and creases in some areas even when the Repeat was checked out before hanging it. 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, 1º single degree off at the top will cause misalignment at the bottom. Some designs are more easy to manage than others. 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 Wallpaper falling off for “no apparent reason”

Removable wallpapers fall off textured walls and this is a clear issue easy to determine. 

But why does a removable wallpaper is coming off a smooth wall? 

Transparent communication is the key. We will ask a few questions trying to find out the cause to provide with real solutions to achieve a successful install.

A defective peel and stick will not stick, you will not be able to install it. Problems arising days or weeks after a successful installation are due to inadequate surface conditions or improper handling:

Not smoothing your wallpaper: A crucial step when installing peel and stick is to properly smooth (firmly press with a smoothing tool) the material onto the wall. Failure to properly smooth your wallpaper can cause a lift off the wall.

Dirty Walls: How much dust is on your walls? It can be a lot! If you did some other renovation at home clean your wall. Accumulated dust on a wall can damage the adhesive. The most dust, 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. You cannot remove the dust from the adhesive afterwards.

Recently Painted Walls: If you paint and then wallpaper, wait 4 weeks before applying any peel and stick. 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, generating massive bubbles on your wallpaper, paint fumes will damage permanently the adhesive on your wallpaper. 

Low or Zero VOC paints: Low VOC paints are a challenge for wallpaper installations as they cause the wallpaper to lift the wall. A simple solution for the problem is to clean the wall with 70% rubbing alcohol, let dry completely, and afterwards proceed with the wallpaper installation. 

Scuff Defense and Stain Blocking Paints: Stain blocking paints are formulated to block anything trying to get bonded or through it. Scuff Defense paints have a similar purpose. Both types of paints tend to cause issues with peel and stick wallpapers, from mild lifting to complete fall off.

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.

Drastic Temperature Changes: Removable wallpapers are susceptible to drastic temperature changes. After some time a wallpaper will become resistant but a newly installed wallpaper will suffer swift shifts. Do not install your wallpaper in areas without temperature regulation or behind a heater. 

Humidity exposure: Humidity will affect peel and stick removable wallpapers. installations of removable materials inside bathrooms can lead to paper lifting. Excessive humidity within the walls, moldy walls will lead to paper lifting.

Covering elements on the wall: Do not use a wallpaper to cover old wallpaper, it can either lift or bond. 

Attaching elements to the wallpaper: All elements you want to hang need to be attached to the wall not the wallpaper. Do attach decor or shelving with double sided tape to a wallpaper. The wallpaper will fall off.

You can learn how to repair peel and stick wallpaper lifting here >

No.5: Adding extra glue to peel and stick

Peel and stick wallpapers are to be installed as they are: peel the Backing Paper and paste to wall.

Adding extra paste to peel and stick is not recommended. Paste can cause chemical reactions: appearance of bubbles after installation, not sticking properly, abrupt falling off the wall, foul odors.

Specially with the appearance of foul odors, we know from customers extra glue was added to peel and stick by professional installer. Unfortunately we were unable to get the glue type, inquires were made by victims weeks after installation. In all cases the wallpaper was in perfect conditions only problem was the progressive appearance of a chemical odor which supposes a reaction between the vinyl and the glue used. 

If you find the need of using wallpaper glue to install wallpaper, we recommend to opt for one Traditional Wallpapers instead. Those can be installed with as much wallpaper glue as needed.

No. 6: Horizontal installation

Please don’t do this if you are new to wallpaper. It looks like a good idea for some spaces. Unfortunately you will be working against gravity. A horizontal installation in peel and stick wallpaper is extremely difficult without experience. 

No. 7: The wrong professional

We have 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.

A 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” just like the traditional does when you apply wet glue. 

Finding the right installer guarantees a successful wallpaper. Look always for someone how is willing to asses you wall prior installing: check if your wall has any deformation or needs some repair prior wallpapering. 

Ask your installer to read the instructions prior starting, if possible consult them prior ordering the wallpaper about the materials you intend to purchase. They might feel more comfortable with a Traditional Wallpaper.

No. 8: 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 of a design can either be perfect for your space 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 the repeat. This can sound silly, but it's a regular customer service issue.

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!

The best advice we can give all time is to get samples and test them, they are affordable!

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 anything. I guess each wallpaper experience is personal.

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 many people who will be super happy with their new wallpaper from Koko Art Shop!

Are your walls textured? Then when purchasing just select the Long Term Peel and Stick, this is our "removable for textured walls".

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 want to achieve a relationship with a customer of transparency and communication so we take the lead 😌 and if you have any question or concern not listed in this guide just ask us!

Also this article is a growing compilation, we add to it each time new issues arise. 


  • Taylor Abrams

    So, my mom strolled into my room and gave it the once-over, declaring it needed a serious style upgrade. She’s on this whole “let’s jazz up the place” kick, eyeing the bland walls like they committed a crime. Now, she’s all hyped up about getting a wallpaper glow-up next week, and I’m just here for the spontaneous burst of interior design enthusiasm. I just hope she knows what you mean by how some wallpapers are only meant to be used on painted walls; they are not meant to be used to replace or repair previously existing wallpaper or wall coverings.

  • Katie Cattey

    The plastic smoothing tool My installer is using is smearing the Color of the printed fish onto the white background Of the vinyl paper !! Plus hanging this paper horizontally is hard !!!! I can already tell it’s not sticking well . Walls have a thin plaster coat .😩🥺

  • Brenda

    Can I put self adhesive wallpaper over goboard?

  • Allen McGrath

    I’ve put up peel and stick on a few jobs and your advice is spot on. A clean wall is imperative, if you want the paper to stay on the wall for awhile. I also recommend getting a laser level. Do not trust a wall corner to be straight, I’ve yet to find one that was true. Like you mention above, if you are off be even a degree, it will cause so many issues as you move to the next panel.

  • Juan M Docampo

    Thanks so much awesome guide!

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