Peel-and-Stick vs. Traditional Wallpaper: Which Is Right for Your Space?

Kristin Luna
Written by Kristin Luna
Updated April 11, 2022
A pregnant woman in bed with beautiful wallpaper behind her
Photo: Kelvin Murray / Stone / Getty Images


  • Peel-and-stick wallpaper is a less-permanent alternative to traditional wallpaper.

  • Traditional wallpaper has a longer lifespan than the self-adhesive version.

  • Self-adhesive wallpaper is easier to apply for the casual DIYer.

  • Traditional wallpaper may require hiring a pro for installation and removal.

  • The ultimate decision boils down to the permanence of your living situation.

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Wallpaper can completely transform the vibe of a space, whether you’re adding it to a small powder room that packs a big punch or are going for a wallpaper accent wall in an open-format living room. Finding the right kind of wallpaper for your skill level, however, can be a bit more of a challenge. 

Here’s a look at peel and stick versus traditional wallpaper to see which one is the right fit for your home design project.

Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper Pros

A man hanging new wallpaper
Photo: Plan Shooting 2 / Imazins / ImaZinS / Getty Images

The use of peel-and-stick wallpaper is on the rise as more homeowners attempt impermanent DIY projects to fix up their spaces. There are many reasons a homeowner might opt for a self-adhering and removable wallpaper over regular wallpaper, each of which is important to explore before you make your final choice.

1. It’s Easy to Install

The biggest selling point of peel-and-stick wallpaper is ease of installation. Anyone can apply peel-and-stick wallpaper regardless of experience, as it was designed with the novice DIYer in mind.

Adding wallpaper to your home is a bigger commitment than, say, painting the walls, which can easily be covered with a new coat of paint if you don’t like the end result. Peel-and-stick wallpaper presents a more temporary solution for those who like to change their aesthetic regularly, and it’s also a go-to for renters.

The entire concept of peel-and-stick wallpaper is that you can remove it cleanly when you’re tired of the look. It shouldn’t leave any residue behind, meaning you can immediately repaint the surface or add new wallpaper if you choose.

2. It’s Affordable

Changing out fixtures and other cosmetic upgrades to your home are often costly. Traditional wallpaper can start as little as $10 a roll and quickly go up into the hundreds depending on how fancy you go. Peel-and-stick wallpaper, on the other hand, tends to average just a few dollars per square foot.

Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper Cons

Peel-and-stick wallpaper may be easy to install, but there are downsides you need to know about, too. 

1. Wall Surface Matters

Self-adhesive wallpaper works best on flat, smooth walls with few bumps, aberrations, or texture. You’ll want to smooth the surface then prime it with the right paint sheen—in this case, satin or semi-gloss—before applying.

2. It’s Temporary

While peel-and-stick wallpaper should last for years in the right conditions, the nature of its self-adhesive application means that it’s meant to be removable and not intended to stick to walls for decades.

Traditional Wallpaper Pros

A couple putting up a wallpaper
Photo: Fancy/Veer/Corbis / Corbis / Getty Images

Traditional wallpaper goes on differently than peel-and-stick: You’ll first need a smooth primed or painted wall, then will spread the adhesive on the wall with a roller or a brush. The last step is laying the wallpaper, beginning in a corner, and overlapping each piece so the pattern aligns perfectly before you cut the edges in a clean line. 

While self-adhesive wallpaper may seem like an instant winner thanks to ease of application, there are a few reasons you’d want to use traditional wallpaper instead.

1. It’s Versatile

Traditional wallpaper offers a seemingly endless array of textures, colors, and patterns. For the homeowner who wants variety or has a very specific idea in mind, regular wallpaper is the way to go as it’s more ubiquitous than peel-and-stick.

2. It’s Long-Lasting

One reason homeowners may opt for traditional wallpaper over paint is that it lasts 10 to 15 years, whereas with paint, you’ll find yourself needing to touch up the walls every three to five. 

Traditional Wallpaper Cons

Before you go buying traditional wallpaper by the roll, it’s also important to look at its flaws first.

1. It’s Trickier to Install

Installing wallpaper in your home may not be as clunky as it once was, but it still requires using a paste or adhesive to install, which adds to both the time and skill level involved in installing wallpaper. It also can be messy.

2. It’s Difficult to Remove

Traditional wallpaper carries a stigma, and that’s primarily that wallpaper removal is a headache. If you’ve ever purchased a home that was wallpapered from top to bottom in what looked like your great-grandmother’s old china pattern, you can relate: The traditional style of  wallpaper was built for durability and not to change out regularly. Removing it is tricky as you don’t want to damage the drywall beneath.

That said, the wallpaper industry has tweaked the product with the consumer in mind, and the newer style of traditional wallpapers do remove easier than the older vinyl styles. It’s still not reusable, though; once you remove regular wallpaper, it goes straight in the trash.

3. It’s Costly

The cost to hang wallpaper is another checkmark in the con column for regular wallpaper. If you’re dealing with a space that already has old wallpaper, the cost to hire a pro to remove old wallpaper runs $500 to $700 per room. New wallpaper on top of that is an additional $510 per room, on average.

Peel-and-Stick vs. Regular Wallpaper

Still mulling over choosing peel-and-stick vs. traditional wallpaper? Consider consulting a local interior designer and using this breakdown to make your final decision.

Options and Customizations​

No matter if you choose peel-and-stick wallpaper or traditional wallpaper, you won’t be hurting for patterns to suit your style. While both kinds of wallpapers come in hundreds of colors, patterns, and textures, though, traditional wallpaper is still the gold standard with many more options available.

Most visually appealing: Traditional wallpaper

Lifespan and Durability

One plus for any kind of wallpaper is that it has a shelf life of up to 15 years with very little maintenance. Due to the application method of regular wallpaper, it will last longer than peel-and-stick, which doesn’t utilize a strong adhesive and could start peeling back at the corners over time. 

Most durable: Traditional wallpaper


Peel-and-stick wallpaper is typically cheaper than traditional wallpaper. Self-adhesive wallpaper is also intended for the DIYer, whereas with regular wallpaper you might need to hire a professional to install it, which adds to the overall cost.

Best price: Peel-and-stick wallpaper

Ease of Installation

A woman testing a pink wallpaper on a white wall
Photo: Flashpop / Stone / Getty Images

Peel-and-stick wallpaper comes in a couple different forms: pre-cut panels and rolls. Due to the DIY-friendly nature of peel-and-stick wallpaper, it’s easier to install in the sense that, once cut, it doesn’t require the use of a paste or other tools. However, once you put peel-and-stick paper on the wall, you don’t have a lot of wiggle room to straighten it. With regular wallpaper, you have a buffer until the adhesive dries to get it just right. 

Easiest to install: Tie

Ease of Removal

Peel-and-stick wallpaper is a popular decor tool for renters who may not have the authority from their landlord to make more permanent changes to their space. Once it’s time to move out, all it takes is peeling the wallpaper off and you’re ready to go—no cumbersome removal of adhesive required.

Easiest to remove: Peel-and-stick wallpaper


Wallpaper, in general, doesn’t perform well in high-moisture areas; however, a lot of homeowners use it in small bathrooms for design impact. If you’re installing wallpaper in a room that is humid, you’ll want to make sure it’s well-ventilated.

Easiest to maintain: Peel-and-stick wallpaper

Resale Value​

Buying a home that is wallpapered with traditional wallpaper in a busy pattern can be a headache for the homeowner who doesn’t intend to keep it. The process of removing traditional wallpaper alone might be a con for those looking to buy your house. However, if your home has peel-and-stick wallpaper that can easily be removed, it will likely be more attractive from a buyer’s standpoint as they can decide to keep it or remove it on their own with little hassle and no added cost.

Less impact on resale value: Peel-and-stick wallpaper

Overall, there’s no clear winner in peel-and-stick wallpaper vs. traditional wallpaper as the decision comes down to your situation. The casual DIYer may want to use peel-and-stick wallpaper simply because of its versatility and ease of removal, while an experienced home renovator could likely handle the application of regular wallpaper on their own. 

If you aren’t in your forever home and plan to sell your house, peel-and-stick wallpaper is better as it’s a more temporary design solution; however, if you want the wallpaper to hold up for a decade or more, then regular wallpaper is the victor. 

If you do opt for traditional wallpaper, you may want to hire a local wallpaper installer to avoid the headache of doing it yourself.

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