Using Peel and Stick Wallpaper in Your Rental Apartment: Tips & Tricks

Originally posted on September 09, 2022 3:00 pm
Updated on August 30, 2022 11:22 pm

Wallpapers are back and more popular than ever, with stylish eye-popping designs available to fit any aesthetic. But for renters wanting a quick refresh of their space, options are often limited to a change in lighting or rearranging furniture. Many leases have multiple restrictive rules around repainting, while permanent wallpapering is almost always explicitly forbidden in rental agreements. Temporary Wallpaper, also known as “Peel and Stick”, is a popular alternative to traditional pasted wallpapers, boasting easier installation, heightened accessibility, and the promise of clean removal. The team at RentHop has gathered and compiled the pros and cons of Peel and Stick along with tips, frequently asked questions, and resources for any renter up for a weekend DIY project that won’t cost you your security deposit.

Why don’t landlords like traditional Wallpaper?

Peel and stick wallpaper differs from traditional wallpaper in several key ways that make it infinitely more accessible for renters with even the strictest of leases. There is no separate paste or adhesive, the curing time is immediate, and, most importantly, it can be removed easily with little to no damage to the wall beneath it. Landlords forbid traditional wallpapering for a variety of reasons; the process of installation and removal can be time consuming and expensive, while painting over it can be impossible depending on the material. Additionally, older wallpaper can become unsanitary and difficult to renovate, especially depending on the location and history of the home. In some cases, light exposure and moisture can cause traditional wallpaper to fade or wrinkle, causing unsightly patches that can’t be easily replaced. Mold is always a possibility, too, especially in humid climates.

Do I need to get approval from the landlord for Peel and Stick Wallpaper?

All of these concerns are largely mitigated with modern vinyl-based peel and stick wallpapers that usually fall under the lease’s agreement around hanging objects and potential wall damage. When correctly installed, Peel and Stick wallpapers should cause no damage at all, ostensibly circumventing rules around painting and wallpapering. However, you should check in with your landlord or property manager and let them know you plan on applying temporary peel and stick wallpapers as renters. This can mitigate any potential problems down the line, as each situation is case-by-case, depending on the stringency of your lease and the leniency of your property manager. Typically though, temporary wallpapers receive a pass – with some exceptions discussed later. 

Pros and Cons of Peel and Stick Wallpaper

Before committing to a full-scale temporary wallpaper remodel of your home, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of this stylish solution. Below you’ll find the RentHop team’s ultimate list to help you weigh if Peel and Stick is the right choice for you!

Pros:

  • Very easy to apply – A typical renter shouldn’t need professional assistance to apply most vinyl-based temporary wallpapers. Installation can usually be done in a few days, such as a long weekend.
  • Cures immediately – no additional adhesive or glue mixing is necessary
  • Can be reapplied, removed, and adjusted dozens of times over the course of several years 
  • Easily uninstalled and quick – no professional help needed. No damage to walls if installed and uninstalled correctly.
  • It can be applied to objects that aren’t walls – staircases, chairs, bookcases, and dressers are just a few examples
  • Come in a largely infinite variety of patterns, with custom designs available from several online retailers and in-person boutiques

Cons:

  • Unique patterns can be very expensive, sometimes starting at $100 per roll and rising expenses with customization and complexity.
  • Peel and Stick Wallpaper can’t be used on textured walls or walls with certain types of scrubbable paint. This is why it can be important to check in with your property manager, as they may have information about the type of paint the walls are coated with. 
  • Not as effective in spaces with high humidity, such as bathrooms or saunas – Humidity can mess with the longevity of temporary wallpapers as much as traditional ones, causing unsightly peeling and curling edges in extreme cases.
  • Depending on installation expertise, results can be wonky and a little bubbly (don’t worry – we’ve provided tips below to avoid this!)

Top Tips for Temporary Wallpaper – Keep your security deposit!

When faced with a blank wall, setting to a project applying and removing Peel and Stick wallpaper can be a daunting task. However, RentHop is here to get you primed and ready with a few pro tips to ensure your next DIY design project is a smashing success.

Check your paint: It’s important to know what type of paint is on the walls you’re planning on applying your Peel and Stick wallpaper to. Most manufacturers recommend you paint the wall at least two weeks before applying your wallpaper. Additionally, you should apply the temporary wallpaper to smooth walls that have been primed with premium eggshell, satin, or semi-gloss paint.

Clean your walls: The walls should be thoroughly cleaned and allowed to dry before temporary wallpaper is applied. Any debris, such as hair or residue, will potentially result in bubbles and wrinkles in the vinyl. Additionally, any bumps or defects in the underlying paint will likely need to be scrubbed off or otherwise sanded down. This will ensure you get a smooth finish and clean lines. Just be sure to check in with your property manager before sanding any walls, as it may also be prohibited by the terms of your lease and result in a deduction when it comes time to refund your security deposit.

Gather your tools: While easy to apply, Peel and Stick wallpaper still requires a couple of specialized tools that not every renter has lying around. Among these are a straight edge and scissors for cutting, a level for balance, and a wall smoothing tool for bubbles and wrinkles. A wall smoothing tool can be purchased online, however, a credit card or spatula may also be of help if one is lacking.

Be generous with your material: To ease anxiety around pattern matching, pros recommend ordering 10 to 15 percent more material than originally estimated. This will allow you to make multiple cuts and cover any potential mistakes. This applies when installing the temporary wallpaper as well, as you should allow for a small amount of excess material at the top edge and corners of the wall you’re wallpapering. When fitted to the wall, this excess can be precision cut with a straight edge to allow for the cleanest of finishes.

Know your space: Temporary wallpapers must be applied in well-ventilated, low-humidity spaces for the best results. This is especially important for bathrooms and kitchens, where you’ll want to avoid installing Peel and Stick too close to faucets and other sources of steam and water.

Apply slowly and smoothly as you go: There’s no need to rush the application of the Temporary Wallpaper. The adhesive on the other side of the panel is made to be removed and reapplied multiple times, so don’t sweat adjusting and fixing during the process. We recommend removing the adhesive backing from the fore-edge of the panel to be applied, peeling it away as you smooth the material along during installation. This ensures air bubbles that form during the process are smoothed out quickly and don’t become an issue later on.

Removing your temporary wallpaper: At the end of your time with your new Peel and Stick look, removing is a snap. You’ll likely want a putty knife or other sharp edge you can use to pry a single corner loose. Then, like a sticker, you simply pull the panel off of the surface. Be careful to be gentle, though, especially if you hit any snags during the process. If this happens, using the sharp edge, gingerly work the material around it until loose. Don’t yank it, as that has the potential to cause damage to the underlying paint.

Experiment, Mix and Match: Because of the ease of application and removal, temporary wallpaper is an incredibly flexible option for home decorating. Feel free to order several small sections of custom designs if you’re indecisive, applying them to a section of your area as a test just like a paint swatch. 

Peel and Stick temporary Wallpapers are a great solution for renters, as their temporary nature and easy installation make this one of the most accessible methods for reinventing a space. Following this guide, you should be able to avoid any pitfalls, ensuring you keep the entirety of your security deposit when your lease ends. With the adhesive flexibility of Peel and Stick wallpaper, you may even, in a sense, be able to take your walls with you.

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