Removable wallpaper seems like one of those "too good to be true" design elements. You get the charm and elegance of wallpaper, without having to painstakingly remove it with steamers, hot soapy water, and 22 different types of wall scrapers. Once you tire of it, all you do is just grab a corner and pull it down. A while back, we installed some for a makeover project and then returned after a couple of months to take it down. Here's what we learned...
For this project we used really gorgeous removable wallpaper tiles from Hygge & West. The installation process was long—just as long as if we had been hanging regular wallpaper—but it was completely worth it. The finished product was gorgeous, and there was really no way to tell it was peel-and-stick. The tiles were hung over plaster walls that had been refinished and painted for less than one year. The paint was a flat finish, and the removable paper was left up for close to four months.
Once we were ready to remove the paper, we simply peeled up a corner and slowly removed that section of paper. Balled it up, tossed it out— and it was done. The wall underneath wasn't sticky, discolored, or chipped.
While working on the project, we learned a few secrets about making sure the removal process went as smoothly as possible. Here's the secret: it has everything to do with how you install it in the first place. We've put together a few simple guidelines to share with you to ensure great results ...
1. Choose quality. While you might find cute wallpaper with birds on it at a big box store, don't be tempted. The Hygge & West paper we used could almost be crumpled into a ball and then smoothed out to perfection to be used once again (although we don't recommend you do this). Seriously good stuff. The paper you choose should be of a decent weight and be tacky, but not too sticky.
If you are very worried about damaging the walls underneath, buy high-quality removable paper, or just decide not to hang paper at all.
2. Clean like your mother is coming over. Even if you've already washed the walls once this season, it's inevitable that they've since gotten dirty or dusty or something. Give 'em one more good sweep and, for best results, wash them down 24-48 hours before hanging the paper. Let them completely dry before attempting to hang the paper.
3. Take care of your walls while hanging the paper. When using a utility knife to trim the paper while you're hanging it, lay something metal (a 3' ruler came in handy for us) behind the paper to protect the walls from getting scratched up.
4. Wait until the paint is absolutely dry. If you've painted recently, be sure the paint is fully cured before you start your project. Hygge & West recommends waiting for 20 days between painting and hanging wallpaper.
5. Take care if reusing. If you want to hang your wallpaper in another spot in the house, keep the paper backing when you initially install the tile. Start peeling from the top corner of your first tile, pulling downwards towards the floor instead of out. This prevents the wallpaper from getting stretched and misshapen.
And that's really it. As long as you follow Rule #1 and choose quality, you're setting yourself up for success. For best results, be sure to always follow each specific manufacturer's guidelines in addition to ours. Other than that—go for it!