Wallpaper, if you haven’t noticed, is having a moment (see here, here, and here, for example). And why not? Patterned paper can transform the entire vibe of your space, whether you add a single statement wall or deck out an entire room. These days, you also have options: You could go with traditional wallpaper—or you could try the new kid on the block, peel-and-stick wallpaper. It’s touted for being cheaper, easier to install (and remove), and just a bit trendier than its traditional counterpart.
We won’t beat around the bush—any type of wallpaper requires an investment of time and money, but is peel-and-stick the right choice for you? Read on for expert advice from interior designers who weigh the pros and cons.
The Pros and Cons of Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper
Pro: Peel-and-stick wallpaper (usually) costs less.
As a general rule, traditional wallpaper is usually going to cost more than peel-and-stick, although, of course, it depends on what you buy. A double roll of this woodland-themed wallpaper, which covers just over 50 square feet, is on the low end at $39. On the other hand, this floral print from House of Hackney costs $325 for a single roll. On average, you’re looking at around $4 per square foot. Peel-and-stick options tend to cost a bit less, from around $1 per square foot for this dreamy, watercolor-like paper to $5 per square foot for this hand-drawn version from artist Keely Shaw for Chasing Paper.
Keep in mind that in either case, you may also need to buy some tools or hire someone to install it, which can add to the total cost (more on that below).
Con: Peel-and-stick wallpaper offers fewer choices.
According to Atlanta-based interior designer Selena Lewis of Selena Lewis Designs, not only is traditional more durable than most peel-and-stick options, you also have a lot more choices when it comes to design. That said, peel-and-stick wallpaper has been gaining momentum, with brands like Flavor Paper, Chasing Paper, and Spoon Flower offering options for both traditional and peel-and-stick.
Pro: Peel-and-stick wallpaper is slightly easier to install.
Bad news: Neither standard wallpaper nor peel-and-stick are especially easy to install. Traditional wallcoverings can get really laborious, requiring plenty of prep (think spreading adhesive all over the walls before you trim the paper down to size and install it). Depending on your level of DIY experience, you may prefer to rely on a pro for this (better to get it right the first time).
Peel-and-stick is often touted as an easier option, and many people feel comfortable installing it on their own, but you’ll need to be pretty good at DIY (and pretty patient) to make it work. “Peel and stick is difficult to install as you have no margin to move the paper around, and the bubbles can reappear weeks and months later, requiring maintenance,” says Lewis.
Con: Peel-and-stick wallpaper could damage your walls.
If you live in a rental or you just want to add a less-permanent statement to your space, peel-and-stick wallpaper may seem like a better option because it’s technically removable. Beware, though: Interior designer Moriah Frantz says peel-and-stick often damages people’s walls when they remove it. So be sure to loop in your landlord if you’re considering adding wallpaper to your space.
On the other hand, traditional wallpaper is easier to remove than you think. “In today’s world of wallpaper, most are strippable, meaning they peel right off the wall with a little water,” says Lewis. “Walls end up clean and most of the time with minimal damage, if any at all.”
The bottom line
If you’re new to wallpaper and looking for an option that’s less of an investment, peel-and-stick is a more affordable way to try out this comeback trend. But don’t be surprised if it’s not as easy to install as its name implies, and, if you’re renting, make sure to test a sample out on your walls to see how easily it comes off.
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