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If you’ve ever found yourself tangled in a mess of peel-and-stick wallpaper, then watching Stefanie Bloom of the TikTok account @beingtheblooms is like catching a glimpse of a DIY Olympian at work. Bloom has mastered the art of the peel-and-stick and, within her current home alone, she’s done 18 separate wallpaper installs.
This DIYer is not intimidated by a bold pattern repeat or a large-scale mural, and she is an expert in creating a DIY look that not only feels permanent, but also looks like a high-end install. “When a lot of people think about peel-and-stick wallpaper, they think of it being shiny like contact paper. It’s all in the material,” says Bloom, who looks to matte vinyl or woven wallpaper for a more designer-y look.
Over the course of her many, many peel-and-stick wallpaper projects, Bloom has gathered a foolproof list of her best tips to make sure every project is set up for success. From choosing the wallpaper, to installing it to last (or not!), here are her eight best peel-and-stick tips.
Before you even begin looking at wallpaper, look at your space and determine the right size pattern for the project you’re tackling. Bloom explains, “For a larger-scale project, like an entire wall, I have the ability to do larger-scale wallpaper designs and murals. For smaller-scale projects, such as half walls, I lean towards a smaller-scale wallpaper design.”
Narrow down your search with specific parameters.
This tip might seem obvious, but those who’ve been through the process of choosing — or ultimately not choosing — a peel-and-stick wallpaper know there are thousands, or millions, or maybe even endless options. It’s easy to get hung up (no pun intended) before you’ve even started. Bloom avoids the decision fatigue by focusing her efforts using the filter tools available. “To save time I always narrow down my search with two factors: color and decor style,” says Bloom.
Consider the wall texture.
Here’s where the walls start to come into play. Not all walls are going to be a perfect, flat canvas that’s ready for wallpaper. Some walls have texture. Some walls have sheen. Each is going to respond to peel-and-stick differently.
“Flat walls are best, but you can make some peel-and-stick wallpaper work on standard orange peel and knockdown wall texture, but avoid lighter colors, which could allow the texture to show through, and choose a busier pattern to mask the texture,” explains Bloom.
She adds that some brands are notorious for not agreeing with textured walls, while others take that obstacle into account. “Wall Blush is one of the few companies that openly supports textured wall installs,” says Bloom, who designed a collection with Wall Blush. From her experience, Tempaper, Roommates, NuWallpaper, and NextWall also apply easily onto textured walls.
In Bloom’s experience, peel-and-stick will rip off flat or matte paint when you remove the wallpaper. She says that eggshell, semi-gloss, gloss, and anything with more sheen will make for both easy application and removal.
Don’t assume it will remove easily.
Bloom explains that some peel-and-stick wallpapers use an acrylic-based adhesive that gets stronger over time. “I started to see with wallpaper I was leaving up long-term and then ripping it down that some brands got very strong, while others came down so easily with no effort,” she says. Wall Blush and Roommates are her favorite peel-and-stick brands for easy removal, which is often critical for renters.
If you don’t want it to remove easily, there’s a product for that.
Of course, not everyone wants their peel-and-stick wallpaper to remove easily. “A lot of people think peel-and-stick is a temporary solution, which can be the case, but it can also last years without any additional tools or special installation method,” Bloom says. However, she does recommend using E-Z Hang spray if you want to give your peel-and-stick an extra boost of adhesive confidence.
Test whether the paint is sound before applying your wallpaper.
“Even if the wall does have an eggshell or above paint I still want to make sure the paint is properly primed to reduce the risk of any paint peeling, so I test whether the paint is ‘sound,’” says Bloom.
She starts by carving a tiny X in the wall with a utility knife, then she puts a sample of wallpaper or painter’s tape over that X. She lets it sit for a day and then rips the sample or painters tape off.
“If the paint doesn’t peel off around the X, the paint is ‘sound,’ aka properly primed for peel-and-stick wallpaper,” says Bloom. If the paint does peel, that just means Bloom will need to add a clear or white primer, such as Zinsser Shieldz Wall Size, before applying the wallpaper.
The first panel is the most important, so make sure it’s straight.
To prevent gaps, look at the overlap in the pattern repeat. “Every brand has a different install type,” Bloom says. “Some brands will have a small half-inch overlap and some will require a butted seam install.”
Either way, the first panel has to be straight. If it’s not, none of the panels will be straight. “I use a laser level to install the first panel now,” Bloom says, adding that she installs the rest of her panels from the seam.
Bloom’s proven method for installation is to peel back only a bit of the backing at a time. Stick the exposed portion to the top edge of your wall, then — once you’ve made sure everything is straight — slowly remove the backing as you smooth the wallpaper down on the wall.
Don’t stretch the vinyl.
Lastly, as she’s installing the peel-and-stick, Bloom is careful not to distort the wallpaper. “Most peel-and-stick wallpaper is made of vinyl, and it’s important not to stretch it,” she says. “It will shrink back after being stretched so that makes the seams more visible after install and can cause gaps — especially if the wallpaper does not have a slight overlap.”
Handle the paper gently, and your installation is more likely to look like it’s the work of a pro.