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How to Apply Peel and Stick Wallpaper the Easy Way

Learn how you can give a room or a space an instant update with peel and stick wallpaper. This easy tutorial will show you all the tips for how to hang wallpaper in your home. 

Ever since our pantry update in our old home (we added beautiful French doors for an instant makeover), I’ve been wanting to give our new pantry a makeover too.

When we moved in, I put contact paper on the shelves, which made it look better. However, it still could use an update.

I had a vision to add white brick wallpaper and walnut DIY pantry shelving. 

I was totally nervous to hang wallpaper.

After all, everyone spends hours and hours removing wallpaper from decades ago. Yet, this wallpaper was different. It’s peel and stick, so it can easily be removed whenever. There’s no paste – just adhesive.

Today, I’m sharing exactly how to apply peel and stick wallpaper to your walls.

Using peel and stick wallpaper to DIY accent wall in pantry closet 

Before and After Pantry Pictures

Below are the before pictures. One is the pantry as I started to empty it out, and the other is the empty pantry.

 Boring pantry before DIY pantry closet updatediy peel and stick wallpaper tips for applying in kitchen pantry closet  

Below is the updated pantry – refreshed with the wallpaper and DIY wooden pantry shelving. 

Putting up DIY wallpaper in a kitchen pantry closet for an easy upgrade before new DIY shelving system goes inKitchen pantry update with new peel and stick wallpaper and floating shelves and drawers

Choosing a Wallpaper

The first thing I did was decide what I wanted this transformed pantry closet to look like. 

I knew I wanted white brick wallpaper, so now I had to find the best bang for my buck. Since I would be installing shelves in front of the wallpaper, I didn’t want to spend a ton of money. I was actually hoping to spend less than $40 on the wallpaper.

With a short timeline (Amazon prime for the win!), I found a wallpaper that had good reviews, was prime delivery, and it came in under budget. I measured the pantry to be about 50 square feet and the wallpaper would cover 49 square feet. I knew it would be a little tight, but I was okay with this – because of the shelves and the budget.

When choosing your wallpaper, keep these things in mind:

  • Measure the square footage of the space you need to cover in wallpaper. If you are doing an accent wall – where everything needs to line up perfectly, definitely order over the square footage you need. That way, you can have extra to perfectly line up your patterns. Now, I under-ordered for my pantry, and that worked for me. I was willing to compromise perfectly matching bricks to save money by only buying one wallpaper roll. 
  • Read the reviews on the wallpaper you like before buying it (even if you are buying it at the store). People will mention if the pattern is easy or hard to line up. They’ll mention if they ran into any difficulties. These can be super helpful in making your decision.
  • Carefully read the description. If you are wanting peel and stick wallpaper, make sure that’s what it says.

Gather Your Wallpaper Materials

After you choose your wallpaper, you’ll want to gather a few more materials to complete the project.

  • Peel and stick wallpaper (I used this white brick pattern)
  • Xacto Knife – make sure it’s nice and sharp – I have this set and it’s wonderful
  • Smoothing tool – You can use your hands, a credit card, or a rag. I found this smoothing tool helpful – especially when cutting edges on the wall. 
  • Measuring tape or ruler (the longer the better)
  • Scissors
  • Paper towels or rag

Picture of materials needed to apply DIY peel and stick wallpaper

Prepare Your Walls

After you pick out your wallpaper, you’re ready to start your project.

First you’ll want to prepare your walls. Take down any pictures or shelves. I removed all of the shelving in our pantry – which felt so good to get rid of those metal shelves.

Next, you’ll want to give your walls a light cleaning to get rid of any dust or grime. This will help the wallpaper stick to the walls.

I just took a wet paper towel and went up and down wiping the walls of the pantry.

Hanging Your First Sheet of Wallpaper

In hanging your first sheet of peel and stick wallpaper, you might be nervous like me. However, these tips will help you to smoothly apply your first piece.

Choose a Starting Point

You’ll first want to pick a starting point. Usually, you want to work from left to right. In my pantry that has a few corners, I decided to hang my first sheet of wallpaper to the right of the first corner. I would still work left, but I would line my first piece up on the corner.

This was the most visible part of my pantry, and I wanted it to look perfect, especially because I knew I might be piecing together scraps at the end 🙂

Lay Out Wallpaper Pieces on the Floor

Once you decide where you will start hanging your wallpaper, you’ll want to measure the length of your piece. Our pantry was about 79 inches so I cut everything at 81 inches to have a little extra at the top and bottom.

The absolute best tip that I can give you is to lay out your wallpaper pieces on the floor first. So I cut my first piece at 81 inches. And before taking this to the pantry to hang up, I unrolled more wallpaper. I lined up the pattern, making sure the pattern went seamlessly from the first piece to the second piece. Once it was lined up properly, I trimmed to 81 inches.

Lining up peel and stick wallpaper on the ground before hanging up on the wall of the kitchen pantry closet

I took the first piece and hung that up. When I went back for the second piece, prior to hanging that up, I lined up and cut the third piece. This way, you are lining everything up on the floor, as opposed to struggling to line it up vertically.

Slowly Peel and Stick

Take your first wallpaper sheet over to the top of the wall and peel about an inch of the backing. Slowly stick the adhesive wallpaper to the wall (letting the backing fall loosely against the wall). Unpeel a little bit of the wallpaper backing at a time – smoothing the wallpaper out with your hand or the smoothing tool.

Before you stick too much on, you’ll want to make sure you pattern is straight. Sometimes ceilings might be crooked, so before you apply the whole sheet, you’ll want to make sure it is straight. You can use a ruler for this – or even just stand back and eyeball it.

What do I do about windows or trim?

With a window or trim, you’ll want push your wallpaper right up to the edge and then trim off the excess with your Xacto knife. Your Xacto knife will be your best friend when working with edges like these. Make sure to have a sharp Xacto knife, so you can easily get perfect cuts.

How to hang DIY wallpaper around the edges - tips and tricks for adhesive wallpaper

Applying DIY peel and stick wallpaper to the wall of our kitchen pantry closet

Continue to Peel and Stick the First Sheet of Wallpaper

You’ll want to continue slowly peeling off the backing and smoothing everything out.

It’s better to go slow because you can smooth out any bumps before you get too far down. When you’re finished with the first sheet of wallpaper, take your smoothing tool and go over it again to give it a good firm stick. 

Putting adhesive wallpaper on the walls of our kitchen pantry before the DIY shelving unit went in

What if I mess up?

If your pattern is crooked or you have too many bumps, simply peel up and wallpaper and try again. You can keep retrying as much as you need to. That’s the beauty of peel and stick wallpaper. If you are really having trouble, you can always work in smaller pieces rather than a very long one. 

Applying the Next Sheet of Wallpaper

When you go to grab your second sheet of wallpaper, remember to match and cut your third sheet on the floor first.

When hanging your second sheet of wallpaper, you may find that it’s a little harder than the first piece. That is because now you are lining up the pattern.

It took me quite a few tries to get my second sheet of wallpaper down perfectly. Make sure you go slow when pulling off the backing.

Do I overlap my wallpaper pieces?

I would not overlap pieces. You want a perfect side-by-side fit, so be sure to perfectly line up those edges. With this particular paper, I could absolutely tell if the paper was overlapped, and it didn’t look pretty. 

You might find yourself working left to right more with the smoothing tool – to make sure you get the pattern lined up right.

Hanging peel and stick wallpaper - tips and tricks for doing an accent wall

Continue Applying the Peel and Stick Wallpaper

As you get toward the end of your space, you might find yourself needing to make smaller cuts. This will especially happen if you (like me) are running out of paper. I didn’t have a full last sheet left, so I used bits and pieces to piece together this last (hard to see) area.

When making smaller cuts, you can do this by using the marks on the back the back of the wallpaper or you can draw your own lines with the ruler. You can cut this with the scissors or your Xacto knife – it’s your preference. The back of my peel and stick wallpaper didn’t have full lines where I needed them, so I usually used a metal ruler and the Xacto knife.

 Two different ways of cutting wallpaper when applying peel and stick wall paper  

Here’s a look at a finished corner of the pantry. 

how to apply peel and stick wallpaper to corners of walls

And here are a few more finished pantry pictures.

Not only will you notice the new wallpaper, but you’ll see the DIY pantry shelving system we built in a weekend.

The wallpaper background and the floating shelves as well as pull-outs completely transformed this previously-boring pantry space.  

DIY pantry update with white brick wallpaper and wooden floating shelves and drawersKitchen pantry closet with wooden shelves and drawers and white brick wallpaper

Wrapping Up + Time & Cost 

The cost was just what I spent on the wallpaper. We had the other materials around the house and garage. Even though I split the work up in two days, it only would have taken me an hour or two if I worked straight through. I just didn’t have that time block with the kids.

As I’m wrapping up this wallpaper article, here are a few questions I wanted to answer for you. 

Was hanging the wallpaper as hard as I thought it would be?

Absolutely not! I’m not the most precise person. I tend to make lots of mistakes and learn things the hard way. That being said, this was super easy and turned out really pretty. I didn’t struggle with the wallpaper at all – it was very simple to work with. 

What was the hardest part of hanging the peel and stick wallpaper?

The hardest part of applying the peel and stick wallpaper was definitely matching up the patterns. Since I knew I would run low on paper, I settled for a less than perfect brick match sometimes, which I was okay with. The pantry wall would be covered with shelves, drawers, and food, so I wasn’t aiming for perfect matches. I saved a lot of paper this way. 

As I mentioned in the tutorial, definitely make sure you have extra wallpaper if you’re going for a perfect match, e.g. doing an accent wall. 

Is the wallpaper easy to peel off?

I can’t speak to peeling this off after a long time, but when I made a mistake putting it on the wall, it was very easy to peel off. It didn’t tear either. For a low cost wallpaper, I was impressed.

Anything else noteworthy to mention?

Yes! Consider the lighting in the room that you are going to wallpaper. Our pantry has no light and isn’t near a window, so it’s very dark. The white wallpaper looks gray-ish sometimes because of the lighting. Before you put your wallpaper up, tape a piece to your wall and check it out through the day. Make sure you love it!

Overall, I loved this DIY project. Hanging the peel and stick wallpaper was easy, and I can totally see how wallpaper can completely makeover a space.

If you have a space in your home that could use an update – whether it’s a closet, a piece of furniture, a wall, look into wallpaper. It definitely gives an instant update in just a couple hours. 

DIY peel and stick wallpaper tips and tricks

 

 

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