Can You Use Fabric As Wallpaper? (Read This First)

Anyone who has worked with wallpaper knows that it can be difficult.

Not only is it hard to put up, but it can be impossible and incredibly time-consuming to take down. Not only that, but painting over it can cause your walls to look like there are bubbles, and it can look sloppy.

That is why most people don’t even bother messing around with wallpaper at all.

But there is a solution!

Can you use fabric as wallpaper?

You can use fabric as wallpaper. Using fabric as wallpaper is a great way to make your walls beautiful and is still temporary and easy to remove. While it does take quite a bit of time, the result is always more exciting than just basic paint or wallpaper.

Why Should I Use Fabric as Wallpaper?

Fabric is an excellent alternative to regular traditional wallpaper.

Traditional wallpaper is usually made of solid paper or fabric that is backed with a vinyl coating. Because traditional wallpaper is meant to be permanent, it is usually adhered to the walls using a heavy-duty paste.

The heavy-duty paste makes it a real chore to take off when you want to change it up. Fabric as wallpaper, on the other hand, is a possible and temporary solution that you can use instead.

Before you decide that you want to wallpaper your walls with fabric, you will want to consider the pros and cons.


The pros of using fabric as wallpaper include:

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy and Quick to Remove
  • Mold Resistant

One thing that makes using fabric for wallpaper great is that it is ideal for renters who are not able to fully alter the wall with actual wallpaper or paint.

Another great thing about using fabric is that you can change it up often and are not stuck with it forever.


There are some cons to using fabric instead of paint or traditional wallpaper.

The cons of using fabric as wallpaper include:

  • Potential for Discoloration
  • Vulnerable to Moisture

Because you would be applying the fabric with liquid starch, it can have issues when exposed to heat or moisture.

If there is baking soda in the liquid starch that you used, it can tint the fabric yellow in the heat. This means, keep your fabric wallpaper away from stovetops, dryers, or any other heat-generating appliances.

Liquid starch can also run the risk of dissolving when exposed to water, so you will not want to install it in any splash prone areas like the bathroom or kitchen.

What Type of Fabric is Typically Used for Fabric Wallpaper?

When you are looking for fabric to use as wallpaper, it is best to go with a lightweight option.

Hanging something too heavy will not work with the liquid starch and will not stay up on the wall—some examples of what not to use include wool or velvet.

Here are some of the problems you might face with velvet.

Fabrics that will work include cotton and polyester.

Is Silk Fabric Great as Wallpaper?

Silk fabric is also an option when you are looking to use fabric as wallpaper.

Often, silk fabric is the most popular choice when it comes to wallpaper for how it will look. It is possible to wallpaper your room using silk fabric, but it is much more expensive and difficult than a cotton or polyester option.

If you make a mistake putting it up, it can be expensive to fix, and because it is so difficult to install, it is very easy to make a mistake.

For this reason, there are some people who will refuse to put up silk wallpaper for you.

Should I Use Starched Fabric as Wallpaper?

Adding starch to the fabric can make it stiffer.

This is a common technique used when ironing your clothes so that you get a much more pressed look.

It might seem like you would completely want to starch your fabric that you intend to use as the wallpaper before you use it. This is not necessary, though.

The process of putting fabric up as wallpaper involves using liquid starch and should take care of the stiffness after you apply it to the wall.

It is also easier to apply the starch to the wall instead of the fabric itself.

How Do You Install Fabric Wallpaper?

Don’t be fooled, while installing fabric as wallpaper is a great option if you want to be able to remove it later, the installation process is not as easy.

It can be challenging and time-intensive.

To install your fabric wallpaper, the steps are as follows:

1. Pick Your Fabric:

The first step in wallpapering your walls with fabric is to select your fabric.

As previously mentioned, you will want to make sure you have a lightweight fabric. However, the type of fabric is not the only decision that you have to make when selecting your fabric.

You will have to pay attention to the patterns on the fabric when you are deciding what you want.  If you are using a fabric with a large pattern, you will have to set aside extra time for installation so that you can match the patterns so that the design looks complete.

If you choose a smaller and less identifiable pattern, you should not have to spend as much time worrying about the design itself.

2. Wash Fabric:

Make sure that before you measure out the fabric, you wash it first.

Fabric can shrink in the wash, and there are many benefits to washing your fabric before you use it.

It is better to handwash and hang-dry your fabric so that the edges do not fray in the washing process.

3. Measure:

Measuring is perhaps the “make or break” step for your entire project.

You want to make sure that when you are hanging up your fabric, especially if there is a pattern, that you use only as many separate pieces as absolutely necessary.

Make sure when you measure, you allow for at least 2 inches of additional fabric on all sides.

If you have any windows, doors, outlets, light switches, or other things that you have to measure around, you can cut a rough estimate and then can do precise trimming later.

4. Ready the Fabric and Wall:

There are some things that you will have to prepare before you put your fabric up on the wall.

To prepare your fabric, you need to cut off the selvage edges with scissors so that your fabric does not have any fray left.

To prepare your wall, you will want to wash the wall and dry it. You should also remove the outlet and light switch covers.

5. Apply Starch:

Using starch is a good way to attach the fabric to the wall without damaging the wall and making it easy to remove when needed.

It is a good idea to put down drop cloths so that you do not make a mess on your floors when you are applying the starch. The best way to apply the starch to your walls is with a paint roller.

This is much faster and less messy than using a paintbrush or trying to dip your fabric directly in the starch.

6. Hang Your Fabric:

Hanging the fabric is not very difficult, but it does take patience as it can be time-consuming.

To hang your fabric, you will apply the fabric to your damp wall, starting in the corner of the room and moving across the wall. Make sure your fabric overlaps the corners, baseboards, and ceiling by about 1-2 inches.

You also want to make sure that the fabric panels overlap by about 1/2 inch.

If you need to, you can use tacks to secure your fabric at the top to hold it in place. Then you will use a wallpaper smoothing tool to make sure that your fabric is flat against the wall.

To finish up, roll more starch over the fabric and wait for it to dry completely.

7. Trim:

After the starch and fabric are completely dry, you will need to trim your fabric.

You can do this using a straightedge and utility knife to trim the excess fabric around the ceiling, baseboards, corners, doors, windows, outlets, switches, and anything else that you need.

When this is finished, you can put your outlet and switch covers back on.

Should I Hang it or Glue the Fabric to the Wall?

Hanging your fabric on the wall is best done using the liquid starch method above.

This technique gives you a clean and sharp wallpaper look, that is easy to remove and will not damage your walls.

If you use other methods, you might not get the same desired results that you are looking for. If you glue your fabric to the wall using the same paste as you would use on wallpaper, it could be challenging to apply correctly as well as to take down.

Fabric can fade, stain, or sustain other damage that might make you want to take it down. Using the starch method, removing your fabric from the wall is a rapid and easy process.

What is a Wallpaper that Looks like Fabric Made of?

If you are looking at a wallpaper that looks like fabric, it might just be fabric hanging on the wall.

However, this isn’t always the case.

If you are interested in getting the look of fabric wallpaper on your wall without worrying about it being temporary, or challenging to work with, there are other options.

Some places make actual paper wallpaper that looks like it is fabric. These faux fabric wallpapers are installed just like regular wallpaper and can be on your walls in the long run.

Whether or not you want something temporary or permanent, there are always options that are out there for you, and if this doesn’t sound appealing to you, do not worry, there is still the option to go with classic paint!