Far too long ago, the lovely Leslie wrote to ask:
I’ve been looking at Etsy home decor, and some of the items they have are wall decals. I’m really liking the idea of having that as a pseudo headboard for my bedroom, but I’m worried about their quality. I’ve only seen pictures of them, not any in practical use in person. What is your opinion?
I love vinyl wall decals and think they’re a fantastic way to spiffy up a boring wall, and some of the headboard decals are totally sweet (like the one from Blik above). There are thicker decals and thinner vinyl decals, but as long as they’re not so thin that they rip or get warped when you’re trying to apply them, there’s not *that* much difference in terms of the quality of what’s on the market. The thing about wall decals is that they last the longest, whether they’re self-adhesive vinyl or fabric like these, when you take the time to thoroughly prep the surface on which you’ll apply them.
I should add that temperature changes will make wall decals shrink and expand, so if your area is prone to cooling off or heating up really quickly, you may find that decals don’t last as long. But I think that the temperature changes would have to be pretty extreme for it to really impact the life of the decal. That said, the best temperature in which to perform the application is somewhere around 60-70F because extreme temps can make putting up the vinyl wall decals difficult.
But for the most part it’s all about surfaces. The paint on the wall needs to be a standard latex or acrylic, not oil, and it can’t contain any of those neat little Teflon particles that some paints contain to make them easier to clean. Your decal will peel right off. Now a wall decal is basically a sticker – as in, it is something that sticks – and any sticker will stick best when it has lots of area to adhere to. If the wall is textured or the paint was applied with a fuzzy roller or old gnarly paint brush, the paint will be bumpy. It may not look bumpy, but the bumps are there. You can get around this by sanding a bit where the decal will go (which really only works if the decal is one big piece, like a headboard, and not skinny strips). Oh, and new paint should have a chance to cure for about a month before your vinyl wall sticker goes up.
Once your wall is smooth, it’s time to clean it! Walls accumulate all sorts of icky stuff – dust, grease, stuff that comes out of car mufflers, etc. – that can create a barrier between the actual wall surface and the sticky stuff on the decal, so you want to give the surface a good cleaning with a nice soapy detergent. In short, taking the time to choose a good application day temperature wise and then prepping the surface thoroughly will go a long way toward extending the life of you decal!