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Why is my wallpaper falling off the wall?

Why is my wallpaper falling off the wall?

There are several common reasons why wallpaper may start to peel, curl, or fall off the wall:

Moisture Issues

Moisture is one of the most common culprits when it comes to wallpaper failure. If the wall had moisture issues before you applied the wallpaper, or if there have been any leaks, condensation, or high humidity levels after application, moisture can seep in between the wallpaper and the wall and cause the adhesive to fail. Wallpaper adhesive is not meant to withstand prolonged dampness or wet conditions. Sources of moisture that can lead to wallpaper peeling include:

  • Leaks from plumbing, roofs, windows, etc.
  • Flooding
  • High indoor humidity
  • Steam from cooking or showering
  • Condensation on cold surfaces

If moisture is the cause, you’ll need to fully eliminate the source of the moisture before attempting to re-apply wallpaper or any other wall covering.

Poor Surface Preparation

Wallpaper requires a smooth, clean, dry surface to properly adhere. If the underlying wall surface was not properly prepared before hanging the wallpaper, the wallpaper is likely to start peeling or falling off. Issues with surface preparation that can lead to failure include:

  • Dirt, grease, or soap residue on the wall
  • Loose paint or other coatings
  • Crumbling drywall or plaster
  • Uneven drywall seams or texture

If the wall surface was not properly prepped, the adhesive does not have a sufficiently uniform surface to grip onto. When you remove the peeling wallpaper, inspect the underlying wall closely and make any needed repairs before attempting to re-apply wallpaper.

Wrong Adhesive

Using the wrong type of adhesive is another common reason wallpaper may start to peel. The adhesive used needs to be appropriate for the specific type and weight of wallpaper. For example:

  • Heavy vinyl wallpapers may require a stronger adhesive like clay.
  • Lightweight papers work best with cellulose or starch pastes.

Using a light duty adhesive to hang heavy wallpaper will often cause the wallpaper to peel away from the wall over time as it cannot bear the weight. Check what type of adhesive the wallpaper manufacturer recommends when choosing what to use.

Applying Over Unsealed Surfaces

Unsealed surfaces can interfere with proper wallpaper bonding in a few different ways:

  • New drywall should be sealed to reduce absorption of paste.
  • Plaster walls or porous surfaces should be sealed so they don’t suck the moisture out of the adhesive too quickly before it has dried.
  • Surfaces with stains or graffiti should be sealed so bleed-through doesn’t cause the stains to telegraph through the wallpaper.

Not properly sealing porous, heavily textured, or stained walls can lead to bonding failure and the wallpaper peeling off.

Not Using a Lining Paper

Lining paper provides an even, uniform surface for wallpaper to adhere to. It can help conceal flaws or inconsistencies in the underlying wall. Using a lining paper can help reduce the chance of wallpaper failure on:

  • Heavily textured walls
  • Damaged walls
  • Freshly painted walls where there may be inconsistencies in the paint application

Lining paper helps compensate for slight imperfections in the wall surface that could otherwise allow the wallpaper to peel.

Allowing Bubbles During Application

During the application process, it’s important to smooth the wallpaper properly as it’s hung and not allow any bubbles or wrinkles to form. If air becomes trapped under the wallpaper, these bubbles can eventually cause the wallpaper to peel or fall off. Taking the time to properly smooth the wallpaper ensures full contact with the underlying wall surface.

Not Allowing Proper Dry Time

Wallpaper adhesive needs sufficient time to fully dry and cure after the wallpaper is hung. Generally 1-2 days of drying time is needed before touching up seams or trimming excess material. If the wallpaper is not allowed to properly dry, the adhesive does not reach full strength and peeling can result. Insufficient drying can happen if:

  • The room conditions are too cold or humid.
  • The adhesive directions for dry time are not followed.
  • Trimming or cleaning is attempted too soon.

Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions for dry time and allow several days before doing any finishing work or furnishing the room.

Using Inferior Wallpaper

Cheaper wallpaper is often thinner and more delicate than higher quality options. A very lightweight paper wallpaper may simply not be durable enough over the long term. Vinyl wallpapers are generally longer lasting than paper. Inferior quality or delicate wallpaper is more likely to peel, especially in high traffic areas like hallways. Choosing a higher grade thicker wallpaper can help minimize this issue.

Not Using a Wallpaper Primer

Primer designed for wallpaper provides added adhesion as well as moisture protection. On new drywall in particular, unprimed walls can lead to peeling issues as the drywall continues to cure and adjust. A quality wallpaper primer helps stabilize the surface while also enhancing the bond of the adhesive.


Peeling or falling wallpaper is most often caused by some type of issue with the wall surface, the adhesive used, or the installation method. To restore a clean wall surface, you’ll need to:

  1. Remove all existing wallpaper
  2. Address any underlying moisture issues
  3. Properly prepare the wall surface
  4. Use the appropriate wallpaper and adhesive products
  5. Carefully install the new wallpaper ensuring proper smoothing and drying time

With the right products and techniques, new wallpaper can achieve a long lasting bond and transform the look of a room. Taking steps to prevent common errors will help keep it adhered smoothly to the wall.

Common Causes of Peeling Wallpaper Percentage
Moisture Issues 25%
Poor Surface Preparation 20%
Wrong Adhesive 15%
Unsealed Surfaces 10%
No Lining Paper 10%
Bubbles During Installation 5%
Insufficient Dry Time 5%
Inferior Wallpaper 5%
No Primer 5%