One of the most frustrating feelings is when your wall decal finally arrives or it’s been three weeks since you painted your wall and you try to apply your decal, but it falls off. You followed the instructions that came with your vinyl, used the backing paper, and after all that hassle, it won’t even stick to the wall!
Vinyl wall decals can be notoriously finicky. There are a variety of reasons why a decal might not stick- some having to do with the decal, some having to do with the wall. To figure out how to get your wall decal to stick, you first need to diagnose why it isn’t staying on the wall.
Why Wall Decals Sometimes Don’t Stick
A lot of different factors can impact how well a vinyl decal adheres to the wall. Some of the most common ones include:
Dirty Walls: If your walls aren’t totally clean, the wall decal will stick to the dirt and grime, not the wall.
New Paint: If you painted your wall recently, the paint emits gases up to 2 weeks after it dries. These gases can cause the adhesive to fail.
Cold Walls/Vinyl: When the walls or the decal are too cold, the vinyl won’t stick properly to the wall.
Unfinished Walls: Wall decals stick poorly to unfinished or unpainted walls (including brick walls). Old, peeling paint can also keep your decal from sticking. If your walls are unfinished or unpainted, take care of that before applying your decal.
Textured Walls: Some vinyl types don’t adhere to walls with any sort of texturing.
Too Dry: If you wait too long after receiving your wall decal before applying it, the adhesive will dry out, much like glue.
Sealants: Using sealants on your wall can actually prevent the decal from sticking. If a sealant gets under the vinyl wall decal, it can cause it to bubble and curl.
Cheap Vinyl: Lower quality vinyl often doesn’t have as much adhesive, which results in it falling off the wall or peeling.
How to Make Wall Decals Stick
Once you’ve figured out why your decal isn’t sticking right, you can find a solution by following the steps below:
- Clean the Wall
Using some dish soap and water, gently scrub the wall. After you’ve removed all the built up dirt, completely dry the wall before moving on.
- Warm the Decal
Carefully run a hair dryer on low power back and forth over both the wall and your decal. Continue heating specific sections of the as you apply it.
- Rub the Decal
With a tennis ball or similar hard object, rub along the back on the decal on the wall. This presses the vinyl into the mountains and valleys on the wall (caused by texturing).
- Sand the Wall
If your wall decal still has problems sticking to the wall texturing, you can use a paint scraper or sandpaper to smooth out the wall. This will flatten the surface and make it easier for vinyl to stick to.
- Add Glue
Brush regular white glue onto the sticky side of your wall decal. This strengthens the adhesive and also helps reactivate it if it dried out.
- Buy a New Decal
As a last resort, if nothing else works you can always purchase a replacement wall decal. If nothing else worked, your decal could be too poor quality or in some way defective.
Remember, it is normal for wall decals to lose some of their stickiness as they age or are moved. Under those circumstances, there may not be much you can do except ordering a new wall decal.
Related: How to Reuse a Wall Decal
Generally, most issues with getting your vinyl wall decal to stick to the wall can be avoided through proper preparation and research. It is cheaper to buy high-quality, commercial grade vinyl in the first place than to spend hours trying to find a band-aid solution before ultimately replacing your wall decal. Make sure to follow the instructions that came with your vinyl exactly, and you shouldn’t have any problems applying your decal!