Removable vs. Traditional Wallpaper

Removable vs. Traditional Wallpaper

Removable vs. Traditional Wallpaper

When decorating or remodeling, how you cover your walls can make a huge difference. Wallpaper provides a simple way to get intricate and unique designs onto your walls. Whether you are looking to set off an accent wall or paper an entire room, you will need to decide between traditional wallpaper and removable wallpaper.

To help you make that choice, we have created this primer that explains the differences between traditional and removable wallpaper. Learn all that you need to know to make an informed decision about which is right for you.

Defining Traditional Wallpaper and Removable Wallpaper

Defining traditional wallpaper and removable wallpaper is the first step to understanding the differences between them. It will also provide you with a solid starting point on which to base your decision.

Traditional Wallpaper

When you think of defining traditional wallpaper, you may immediately get mental images of your grandmother's kitchen walls. All traditional means when referring to wallpaper is that it is not self-adhesive.

Traditional wallpaper utilizes an adhesive that you must apply before putting the paper on the wall. Some wallpaper pastes require the panels to be soaked before application; others allow for the adhesive to be applied with a brush to the back of the paper or directly to the wall. Regardless, all of them require extra effort and may be messy depending on your skill.

While the modern non-woven backing of this type of wallpaper makes it easier to remove than its vinyl-backed predecessor, traditional wallpaper is not called removable for a reason. It was designed to stay put for decades to come and, thus, was not created to be easily removed.

Removable Wallpaper

Removable wallpaper, on the other hand, does have a self-adhesive backing. Often referred to as "Renter's Wallpaper," this type of wall covering was designed to be put up and taken down quickly and easily.

You can apply it like a sticker or decal, allowing you to put it up, take it down and move it to another area with little to no effort or mess.

Removable paper requires no soaking or special adhesives. It can be put up in a few minutes and taken down just as quickly with its unique pull-and-peel features.

Installing Traditional vs. Removable Wallpaper

The biggest difference between these two can often be found in installing traditional vs. removable wallpaper. While both require you to cut the paper to size, use a level to ensure straight application and smooth out bubbles, that is where the similarities end.

With installing traditional wallpaper, you apply the adhesive and then line the panel of wallpaper up with the marks you made to guide installation. If you need to, you can slide the paper around on the wall to get it right against the edge of the previous piece or to straighten it.

Removable paper does not allow for such corrections. When you install removable wallpaper, you need to be sure it is exactly where you want it. Otherwise, you will need to take the entire panel down and try again.

This mobility also makes it easier to smooth out air bubbles with traditional wallpaper. One of the chief complaints about removable paper is its tendency to bubble and the difficulty of removing those bubbles.

With traditional wallpaper, those air bubbles can be smoothed out before the adhesive dries. Removable wallpapers require you to peel it off down to the bubble and then reapply it to remove bubbles.


Another big difference between traditional and removable wallpaper is their durability. Durability describes how well the paper will stand up to the dangers of daily life.

Removable paper is not designed to last for decades like non-woven traditional wallpaper. The adhesive in its peel and stick design is not as strong as that used to glue traditional wallpaper in place either.

That can often lead removable paper to peel all on its own, requiring you to constantly re-stick it to the wall. Humidity, cold and heat can lead to peeling since the adhesive is more susceptible to these elements than the high-power glue of traditional wallpaper.

Traditional wallpaper – on the other hand – will stay in place despite what daily living conditions are thrown at it. This type of wallpaper is designed to last for years to come.

Learn more about our paper & process here.

Making a Choice

The decision between traditional and removable wallpaper boils down to your specific needs and personal choice. Traditional wallpaper takes more work to put up but is stronger and lasts longer. Removable goes up and comes down quickly but is not made for longevity.

If you change your décor often or are in a temporary living situation, removable is probably best. However, if you will be staying put for more than a year, traditional non-woven wallpaper is likely your best bet.

Whichever you choose, buying from a reputable high-end source like Wallshoppe will ensure you get quality wallpaper products. Call or check out our selection now to see what beautiful new style we can help you create in your home.