Is Wallpaper Tacky? (Plus Ways To Alleviate “The Tackiness”…)

Wallpaper goes beyond improving the look of your wall.

You can use it to make a statement wall, say, behind the sink or hob.

Depending on the type of wallpaper, the application and removal process can be smooth or somewhat an ordeal.

So, Is Wallpaper Tacky?

With a tongue in cheek – “Yes.” But it depends. Such factors as the kind of wallpaper, implementation, and the condition of the wall can determine whether you’ll like the final product. If your wall often goes through a musty episode at some point in a year – or always is – then you’ll find wallpapers to be tacky regardless of the type. Nevertheless, your choice may not work for your wall. You will be surprised to hear that the tacky side of wallpapers sometimes has something to do with the mistakes of the installation guy.

So, Tell Me, What Makes Wallpaper Tacky?

Whoa! Slowly, mate. See, wallpapers aren’t entirely tacky but may seem to be because of these things:

  • You don’t have the creativity, experience, or skill to install them the DIY way
  • The most stylish wallpapers out there aren’t the cheapest to acquire
  • The appearance of the wallpaper is majorly determined by the surrounding conditions and environment including the accessories, lighting, and furniture in the room
  • Lighting also has a bigger say when it comes to whether the wallpaper will be a hit or miss. Lots of people who fall out of favor with wallpapers just have wrong lighting in their spaces for the specific type of wallpaper that impresses them

The wallpaper images you often see on interior design platforms on the internet were captured in well-lit rooms for promo purposes.

Still, on scrutiny, you will spot shadowy areas that look muddled – that’s how real wallpaper in real rooms normally look, even worse.

So, without great lighting (this usually requires tall windows or uninterrupted skylight, or any other method of maximizing your home’s natural sunlight) a wallpaper may look pretty tacky or ugly.

What Else Makes Wallpaper Tacky? What’s The Solution?

Perhaps the tackiest thing about wallpapers is their tendency to grow mold, plus that musty smell that accompanies it. Ask anyone who dislikes wallpaper and they’ll tell you how they haven’t gotten over those moldy wall coverings at Granny’s place.

A wet wall almost always begets moldy and musty wallpaper.

What normally happens is that the wallpaper prevents the moisture from evaporating into the air or dripping to the ground.

As it accumulates behind the covering, a moist environment is created for the growth of many types of fungi, hence the formation of dark spots.

Mold is a form of fungus and goes beyond turning your wall into an ugly mess. If the covering stays musty long enough, you could be exposed to disease-causing spores.

Therefore, contrary to widely held beliefs, the growth of mold behind your wall covering has more to do with the state of the wall than the wallpaper itself.

If your home is prone to roof leaks, or your wall often seeps water from the outside (even just a tiny part of it), you should probably fix the issue first before anything.

Better yet, you can start by applying a coat of premium acrylic primer.

Acrylic primers create a new and even surface on almost any wall to ease the process of wallpaper application.

It also helps prevent the wall from absorbing moisture from both interior condensation and outdoor sources, which protects against the growth of mold.

Wallpaper Bubbles

Bubbles are probably the most common annoyance with wallpapers.

They are a result of mistakes during the installation process.

If you don’t use the right adhesive (as is the case with traditional woven wallpapers – more on these later), chances are high you will end up with bubbles in it.

Bubbles become evident almost immediately you install the wallpaper, especially if the wall is always wet, but sometimes takes longer to manifest. Either way, bubbles on the wallpaper are never beautiful.

Other causes of bubbles are paint chips, holes, or imperfect walls.

That’s why you need to clean and smoothen the surface before installing the cover. After installation, allow a sufficient “booking” period for your panels.

Traditional vs. Non-Woven wallpaper: Which Is Tacky?

There are two large groups of wallpapers in the market today:

  • traditional
  • and non-woven (removable) covers.

We can agree by a near-perfect consensus that non-woven/removable wallpapers are just tacky if not the tackiest of all.

First, let’s glance at the differences between the two:

1. Traditional Wallpaper

By “traditional” we don’t mean your grandma’s wallpaper. Rather, we mean a type of woven wallpapers that don’t adhere on their own.

For your traditional wallpaper to stick, you must find the right adhesive for the job, soak it, and paste it on the wall before installing the wallpaper.

Another thing: when we say “woven” we are referring to the rear part of the wallpaper.

The backside of traditional wallpapers consists of a combo of synthetic and natural fibers that make the whole panel more breathable and less prone to mold growth.

This construction also ensures the wallpaper doesn’t expand and contract erratically once it gets on the wall.

They were partly intended to provide an alternative to vinyl which was difficult to remove.

But you could ask: “why isn’t traditional wallpaper called removable if it’s so easy to remove?”

There are two reasons.

Firstly, traditional wallpapers quickly earned a not-so-good when they first hit the market – they weren’t all that easy to remove.

This blot still lingers on their name even though newer versions are super easy to remove and can be even reused.

The second reason has something to do with intention.

See, the objective of the makers was not to ease the removal but rather, to improve durability.

This type of wallpaper stays up as long as you want, something that makes it competent for protecting walls in high temperature or traffic areas.

Now, the fact that you can easily remove and even reuse them means they are environmentally friendly, right? Isn’t that a nice thing?

2. Non Woven Wallpaper

Enter non-woven (removable) wallpapers.

Perhaps the most distinguishing aspect of this class of wallpapers is their peel & stick feature.

Unlike traditional woven wallpapers that require you to start by pasting an adhesive on the wall, you simply peel the protective film from their back and stick and that’s it!

So, they are less tedious to apply but don’t last. They will also give you just one shot at it – if you stick them wrongly, you can’t remove and reattach owing to the weakened adhesive.

And, unlike traditional woven wallpapers that stay up for ages, these are never durable as the adhesive can be weakened by almost every peril that afflicts an average wall: cold, greasy hands, pressure, etc.

Now, let’s look at the scorecard – which is tacky?

Whether you are after the performance or something easier to work with, non-woven removable scores poorly. You’d rather go for traditional woven wallpapers.

How Do You Avoid The Tacky Side Of Wallpaper?

First off, make sure you hire an experienced professional to do the installation. Strictly no DIY – you are going to ruin it.


  • Consult widely to know if it will work for your wall
  • Go for quality – cheap wallpaper is trouble even with the best preparations
  • Clean your walls as if your crush is coming over. Dirty walls may make you dislike the wallpaper after you’ve installed it
  • Never install your wallpaper on fresh paint. Let it dry completely before adding anything else. Also, no wallpaper on a wet wall

Take great care if reusing. Some types of wallpapers such as the traditional woven covers can be applied, removed, and used again elsewhere.

If you must reuse your wallpaper, start by peeling it gently in the right way without tearing it or leaving too much debris on the wall.

Fortunately, you can hire a professional to do the whole job for you.


So, is wallpaper tacky?

Yes, but it depends. Lots of factors are at play, including the kind of wallpaper, implementation, and the condition of the wall can determine whether you’ll like the final product.

If your wall often goes through a musty episode at some point in a year, then you’ll find wallpapers to be tacky regardless of the type.

If are torn between the traditional (woven) and non-woven (removable) wallpapers, let’s remove the dilemma – go for the traditional wallpapers.

These covers are tedious to install but can last a lifetime on almost any interior wall.


Top 5 Decorating Mistakes 

What Are The Different Types Of Wallpaper? 

How to Fix Wallpaper Bubbles 

Peel and Stick Wallpaper Pros and Cons