How to Wallpaper A Rental Apartment

June 16, 2020

Decorating a rental property is a balancing act that requires you to make it look nice while making sure the home appeals to a wide range of people. After all, you won’t be able to predetermine the tenant’s taste when it comes to interiors, which is why it’s best to go for a neutral look.

Landlords are always advised to keep things neutral, but you need to be careful that neutral doesn’t evolve into bland. Tenants living in your rental home will want the property to feel homey. While they can make the space their own with a few items here and there, the overall decoration style lies with you, the landlord.

Room with light grey armchair and chair next to a pink toned floral wallpaper and the right wall is painted grey

The walls are perhaps the most important aspect of any rental property decoration. The four walls in each room can make a space feel open and light or dingy and dark. You certainly want to aim for the former!

Many landlords question whether they should paint the walls or add wallpaper. If you choose the latter and DIY isn’t your area of expertise, you might want to know how to wallpaper a home.

We’ve put this guide together to teach you everything there is to know about putting wallpaper in a rental property.


Why add wallpaper?

Traditionally, landlords paint the walls of their rental property. Doing so means you can keep things simple with a lick of paint (usually white) and create a greater sense of space in the apartment. However, as interior-designed properties grow in popularity with TV shows, YouTube videos and social media accounts, people are feeling more empowered to try something a little different.

As a landlord, you want to make sure that your rental property is presented to a high standard – and that includes how it’s decorated. As long as it is carefully done, you can go for both, with some walls featuring paint and others utilising wallpaper.

funky wallpaper with abstract lines

Using wallpaper has several benefits, both from an aesthetic and practical point of view. When done right, wallpaper can add colour, design and character to a room. Done wrong, however, and it can make a space look smaller and even overbearing.


Pros and cons of using wallpaper

There are many benefits to using wallpaper in your rental apartment. Here are some of the primary reasons why you should cover your walls with wallpaper, as well as a few things you might want to watch out for.


  • Adds colour to the room
  • Comes in many different designs
  • Results can provide an interior designed look and feel
  • Is cost-effective and can last up to 15 years
  • Hides many surface imperfections on walls and adheres smoothly


  • Layering your walls can be time-consuming when compared to painting them
  • Painting over wallpaper is hard, and sometimes impossible
  • Wallpaper can look lumpy if it’s not done correctly
  • Older wallpaper can be tricky to remove
  • Longer lasting wallpaper might fade over time as it’s exposed to light

There’s no right or wrong answer about using wallpaper. Ultimately, it comes down to whether you believe it will enhance the look of your rental apartment and increase its appeal to renters. If the answer is “yes”, then you want to go about finding the perfect fit for your property.


How to choose wallpaper for your rental apartment

The most vital aspect is making sure that the wallpaper you choose compliments the room and matches its style. It’s not only the style of the room that you need to take into account but also the apartment and its location. A big-city apartment will, ideally, look more modern – and the wallpaper should be reflective of the property’s location.

Do you go for bold patterns or a plain and simple wallpaper? Should you add wallpaper to every room or just one or two walls? Beadboard and stucco are simple options that display a casual tone and might be a good fit for a rental apartment. On the other hand, patterns can work well if it’s just one wall.

Six different wallpaper rolls with different prints

No matter which design you opt for, find the right balance and choose colours that complement each other and the living space. Choosing the right wallpaper can add a new layer to your rental apartment, both literally and figuratively.


How to hang wallpaper

  • Decide whether you will decorate yourself or hire a professional
  • Check the walls are in good condition
  • Freshly plastered walls should be sealed
  • Use lining paper
  • Measure wallpaper
  • Apply adhesive
  • Hang wallpaper

Some landlords like to employ the services of painters and decorators to wallpaper their rental apartment; others enjoy doing it themselves. If you’re planning on carrying out the decorations, you want to make sure that you wallpaper the apartment correctly.

The first thing requires you to check the walls are in good condition, and that any existing wallpaper has been removed. It’s also important to examine any freshly plastered walls to see if they are fully sealed before adding lining paper.

Unknown woman wearing jeans and blue plaid shirt kneeling on a wooden floor while painting the back of a wallpaper with a paintbrush

Measure the wallpaper to the correct lengths and begin applying adhesive to the wall. Hang the lengths so that you create a straight and smooth finish on the walls and around the corners. Lastly, hang the wallpaper on the selected wall.


How to remove wallpaper

If you have wallpaper that needs removing, you’ll want to get it off nice and smoothly with little trouble. It’s best if you chose a stripping option, with an electric steam wallpaper stripper and chemical stripping being the more obvious choices.

Electric steam wallpaper

An electric steamer is a tank and hose connected to a steam plate. It works by filling the tank with water, which then boils to steaming. To remove wallpaper, you need to hold the steam plate against the wall so it can loosen the wallpaper. Electric steam strippers are typically used for larger areas as they can cover more ground than chemical options.

Chemical stripping

Chemical stripping is a liquid that’s applied to walls and is a ready-to-use mixture that comes in bottle and spray form. It helps dissolve adhesive and loosen the wallpaper, making it easier to remove. Chemical solutions are popular for trying to remove two layers of wallpaper or paper from a feature wall.

Unknown woman's hand removing grey wallpaper from the wall with scraper

Removable wallpaper

A third option involves using removable wallpaper, which is becoming increasingly popular. It sticks to the walls and easily peels off without much effort. The quality of removable materials varies, though there are options at the higher end of the market which work well. Removable wallpaper is popular with tenants who want to add their own personal touch to a rental property.


Creating a home for your tenants

Once your property is tenanted, it’s only natural renters will want to make their new home feel like it’s really theirs. Bringing in their furniture items like side tables and chairs isn’t a problem. Decorating areas that require permanent fixtures can prove tricky, however.

As the landlord, you need to be clear about what tenants can and can’t do in your rental apartment. That includes whether they need to get permission for aspects like adding wallpaper – even if it’s only temporary. You should set out the terms clearly in the rental contract.

living room wallpaper with abstract waves and lines

One of the best ways to alleviate any potential complications about what a tenant can and can’t do in the rental apartment is to use Blueground. We rent the property from you directly, professional decorate your home and then source high-calibre tenants, making sure that it’s move-in ready.

Our team considers each apartment on a case-by-case basis along with our in-house interior designers to show its best sides. Renters will already have everything they need in a picture-perfect rental that doesn’t require any major additions. Best of all, we act as your tenant, so if your property is being managed by Bluegound, even in the case of a rental gap, you’ll still receive a passive income.

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