Pre-pasted wallpaper vs. peel & stick wallpaper

I always knew that I wanted wallpaper somewhere in my house, but never knew anything about it. After installing two different types of wallpaper in the past couple of months, I’m here to tell you what I learned from both of them and what I will do differently on future wallpaper projects.


Pre-Pasted Wallpaper

The first wallpaper we installed was pre-pasted. Pre-pasted wallpaper has paste applied to the back of it that activates when wet. The installation has a few more steps than peel & stick, but less than traditional (un-pasted) wallpaper that you would have to mix glue for.

 
Installation requires laying the paper on a flat surface and misting the wallpaper with a spray bottle.

Installation requires laying the paper on a flat surface and misting the wallpaper with a spray bottle.

When the paper is all wet, curl the two ends in to reach the center. This allows for the paper to be easily transported to the wall. Wait about two minutes for the water to activate the paste.

When the paper is all wet, curl the two ends in to reach the center. This allows for the paper to be easily transported to the wall. Wait about two minutes for the water to activate the paste.

Line up and carefully press on to the wall! It’s easier said than done, but the pre-pasted paper makes it easy to just do one panel and a time and take breaks in between.

Line up and carefully press on to the wall! It’s easier said than done, but the pre-pasted paper makes it easy to just do one panel and a time and take breaks in between.

 

Overall, the installation of the pre-pasted wallpaper was difficult for us, mostly because the wallpaper was not quite sticky enough. We would have it lined up perfectly on the top, and it would slowly peel off while we were pressing it down the wall, which would cause the entire panel to shift. After leaving it for a while, the edges would curl up and we would have to hurry to press them back up before an entire panel would fall down. It was stressful and there were many swear words said.

 
The gap after our paper dried.

The gap after our paper dried.

We trimmed the paper with an exacto knife and straight edge at the end.

We trimmed the paper with an exacto knife and straight edge at the end.

 

Aside from not being sticky enough, the worst part of it was that we stretched the paper here and there to try to get the panels perfectly lined up and it ended up shrinking a little bit when it dried, leading to big gaps and less than perfect alignment. The best thing about the installation was that it was forgivable enough for us to peel off an entire panel and re-do it to fix the big gap. The other unexpected plus of pre-pasted paper was that any small residual air bubbles worked themselves out in the drying process.

 
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It took us about 30 minutes to hang each panel (4 hours total). Despite being more difficult than we anticipated, it turned out beautifully and any imperfections are difficult to spot through the busy pattern.

 
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Peel & Stick Wallpaper

After the rough installation of the pre-pasted wallpaper, I was a little bit scared to start another wallpaper project, but also excited to try out a different variety. I used the Elizabeth wallpaper from Loomwell and right off the bat, I was super impressed with how thick and durable it felt.

The instructions for how to hang these panels are SO easy. Just peel down the first panel about 2 feet, make sure it is straight, and stick right to the wall. Smooth out any air bubbles as you go. That’s it! Seriously so easy. I did have one hiccup of not hanging it perfectly straight, but I was able to recover by peeling it off the wall and trying again. It kept its stick and was ZERO mess.

It took me an hour to hang all of the panels (compared to the 4 it took for pre-pasted!!) and I was able to do it all by myself. Check out this instagram story for a fun time lapse of the process!

The only negative thing about peel and stick is that after I finished, air bubbles developed, which is annoying, but easily fixed by smoothing them out with your hand.


 

If you’re making your decision on cost alone, shop for pre-pasted. It’s typically less expensive than peel & stick. Our peel & stick wallpaper was about twice as much as the pre-pasted wallpaper ($500 vs $250 for 9’ x 12’). Aside from the cost, there is no other reason that I would choose pre-pasted again. I’ll be using peel & stick because the easy installation is worth every penny!