Peel and Stick Challenges and how to Solve Them
Yes... things can go wrong
All advice stated in this blog post is un-compromised 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.
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 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.”
No. 1 Problem always: Removable wallpapers installed over textured walls!
A soft adhesive removable peel and stick wallpaper will fall off a textured wall shortly after installation. Common types of wall textures are: Orange Peel, Popcorn, Knockdown, Slap Brush, Sanded 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 to touch, flat and free of any deformation, then it is textured. You need to trust us when we say don't do it.
You might get a removable peel and stick sample and test it on your textured wall. It will probably stick and won't fall off - "But I tested and the sample worked"-. Did you notice the sample was super easy to remove? If a sample does not offer any type of resistance when removing then it's not well attached. Take your sample cut it in half, paste one half to a textured wall and the other half to a smooth wall. You will notice a huge difference in adhesion level between both surfaces. Also consider each full panel of wallpaper weight up to 2 pounds, this weight added to a poor adhesion will cause a coming off the wall.
All the sample testing information is included in a little instruction card we send for sample testing.
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
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 peel and stick films have 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.
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, pulling even with the same tension on both sides, this way you will feel a slight resistance but never the need to 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!!! 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 but the problem does come out during a wallpaper install.
A pro will normally notice the issue prior starting since they always should do an in depth assessment of the wall. A pro will solve this issue ahead by sealing, sanding and priming to even the wall before installation.
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 and find a pro to help.
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 designs are more easy to manage than others, some look fine even when they are not perfect, other designs need to match perfectly or they will 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 Wallpaper falling off for “no apparent reason”
Need to know: When a removable 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.
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. Customers usually get defensive when we ask a few questions, we are only trying to find out the cause to provide with real solutions to achieve a successful install.
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 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 paint and then you want to wallpaper you also need to wait 4 weeks before applying any peel and stick wallpaper 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.
Low or Zero VOC paints: Low VOC paints are amazing but unfortunately they are becoming a challenge for wallpaper installations as they cause in many cases the wallpaper to fall off. The exact reason we don’t know since low VOCs formulations are protected by trade secrets. The best way to make sure the wallpaper will stick is to get a sample and test it. A simple solution for the problem is to clean the wall (recommended 2-3 times) with a mixture of 70% isopropyl alcohol and 30% water, let dry completely, test the adhesion with a sample and afterwards proceed with the wallpaper installation. Some brands that offer low or no VOC (volatile organic compounds) are: Behr, Benjamin Moore, Rust-Oleum, Valspar, Safe Ecoat, Ecopaints.
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: 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. Do not install your wallpaper in areas without temperature regulation or behind a heater.
Humidity exposure: Humidity changes do affect peel and stick removable wallpapers, installations of removable materials inside bathrooms can lead to the paper lifting.
Covering elements on the wall: Do not use a wallpaper to cover other wallpaper previously installed, our wallpapers are only suitable for painted walls not to repair or cover elements, fabrics of wallpapers previously installed over the wall.
Attaching elements to the wallpaper: All elements you want to hang over a wall with a wallpaper need to be attached to the wall not the wallpaper. Do not paste a frame, baby sign, any type of decor or shelving with double sided tape to a wallpaper. The wallpaper will fall off along with all heavy elements attached.
You can learn how to repair peel and stick wallpaper lifting here >
Bad decisions can also influence the outcome:
Adding extra wallpaper paste 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.
If you find the need of using paste to install a wallpaper, we recommend to opt for one of our Traditional Wallpapers materials. Those can be installed with as much wallpaper paste as needed.
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.
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 and damaged the adhesive.
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” on the wall 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.
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 form us just select the Long Term Peel and Stick material, this is our "removable for textured walls". It is an awesome choice you will love as much as your 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.
Can I put self adhesive wallpaper over goboard?
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.
Thanks so much awesome guide!
My peel and stick came off after 6 months. Id actually like it to be permanent—isnt there any type of thin spray-glue I could put on my walls that will make this adhere as permanent paper will? Id even use liquid nails !!
I have a situation where my installer put five panels of self adhesive paper up on not smooth wall, they all fell, she came back and resurfaced the wall, the sticky panels are now laid out around my house (some sticky face up on a bed, others up on wall with painters tape at the top. The problem is she is going out of town and won’t be back for a week.
Question is: How long does the paper stay tacky? Will it dry out in a week? Should I do everything I can to find someone else or is it no big deal? Also, is there an adhesive one can use IN ADDITION to the tacky paper when it comes time to hang?
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