How to Apply Fabric to Walls

Want a new way to add a personal touch and style to your home? If so, consider applying fabric wall coverings. It’s a simple and affordable way to brighten up any room in your house. 

I’ll show you how to apply fabric to walls in a few easy steps. So, whether you are looking for a temporary or permanent solution, follow these steps, and you’ll create a beautiful wall accent in no time. 

What Type of Fabric Can Be Applied to Walls?

Many different types of fabrics can be applied to walls for various purposes. Some fabrics are specifically designed for painting, while others are intended to act as a kind of “skins” that overlay the entire surface of the wall. 

Other fabrics can create a more textured effect, adding visual interest and depth to any space. Additionally, some fabrics allow you to customize the appearance of your wall with patterns, textures, and colors. 

Fabric panels are a great option for large-scale designs, as they can easily accommodate complex patterns and detailed illustrations. 

Wall hangings are also popular, as they often use textures and prints that add visual interest to the space. 

Finally, tapestries offer an even more textured option, with rich materials like wool and cotton providing deep color and stunning patterns.

How to Cover Walls with Fabric 

I’ve got a few ways you can do it, so read up and pick which method will work best for you.

Using Laundry Starch

Laundry starch is a great way to attach the fabric to a wall, especially if you want to remove the fabric easily later. 

What You Need

  • Laundry starch
  • Drop cloths
  • Tape measure
  • Metal straightedge
  • Fabric suitable for wall hanging
  • Sharp utility knife
  • Scissors
  • Stepladder
  • Paint tray
  • Paint roller
  • Low-nap roller cover
  • Wallpaper smoothing tool

Step One: Prep the Area

Cut the fabric to length and add two more inches at the top and bottom. Pre-wash the fabric and make sure there are no fringes at the edges. Wash and dry the wall. Take down any power switches, outlet plates, or whatever could get in the way. Cover the floor to prevent difficult cleanups. 

Step Two: Hang the Fabric

Apply the starch using a paint roller because it’s less messy. Cover the entire surface of the wall. When the starch is still damp, apply the fabric, starting with one strip at a time. Begin from one corner of the room. If your fabric has patterns, ask someone to stand back to ensure the patterns match the edges. 

Use a wallpaper smoothing tool to ensure the fabric lies flat against the wall. 

Note: Allow one to two inches of fabric overlap at the baseboard and the side corner. Allow half an inch of overlap at the seams.

Step Three: Trim Excess Fabric

Check when the fabric and starch are fully dry. Take the straightedge utility knife and cut any excess fabric at the baseboards, ceiling lines, trims, switch boxes, etc. 

Using Staples

Using staples, you will need several basic tools and materials to cover a wall with fabric.

What You Need

  • The fabric of your choice
  • Utility knife
  • Electric staple gun
  • Long staples
  • Trim 
  • Glue gun

Step One: Prep the Area

Determine how much fabric you need and add five percent extra to be sure. Iron the fabric seams. Ask for help if you want to put up fabric on an entire wall. 

Step Two: Attach the Fabric

Start at the top corner and work your way down with each strip of fabric. Pull the fabric and staple it every two inches. Please make sure the staples are straight so you can hide them easier. Follow the same procedure until you’ve covered up an entire wall. Trim off excess fabric using a utility knife. 

Step Three: Add the Trim 

Cover your staples using coordinating fabric, cording, bias tape, or the trim of your choice. You can use a glue gun to adhere to the trim. 

Pro Tip: If you’re looking to dress up a wall with fabric and don’t want to use nails or staples, the best solution is to use glue. Several different types of glue can be used for this purpose, depending on your project and the type of fabric that you’re using. 

For lightweight fabrics, simple craft glue or decoupage medium works well. Polyurethane adhesive is usually better if you need to cover a larger area or work with heavier fabric.

Using Wallpaper Paste

This is probably the most common method, but it’s permanent, more or less. So, be sure you’re comfortable using it.

What You’ll Need

  • Push pins
  • Fabric
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Cutting wheel
  • Long ruler
  • Utility knife
  • Damp cloth
  • Screwdriver
  • Plastic smoothing tool
  • Wallpaper paste
  • Brush for wallpaper paste

Step One: Prep the Area

The prepping process is always the same regardless of how you apply fabric to the walls. Clean the walls. Remove any covers from light switches or power outlets. Put drop cloths on the floor to avoid spillage and make cleaning easier. 

Step Two: Cut the Fabric

Measure the height of the walls, and always add two extra inches at the top and bottom, so you have some extra material to work with. Cut the fabric into strips by using scissors or a cutting wheel. 

Step Three: Glue the Fabric

Use the wallpaper brush to apply the wallpaper paste to the wall. Add enough glue to put up one strip of fabric. Work your way from one edge to the wall to the center. Repeat the process until you’ve set up all the fabric strips needed to cover a wall.

Step Four: Trim the Excess

Using a cutting wheel, trim the excess fabric around vents, light switches, trims, windows, and doors. Take a smoothening tool and straighten the fabric for a smooth finish. Use the cotton cloth to remove any excess wallpaper paste. 

Place push pins in the corners and all along the edges of the fabric strips. In the end, hold the ruler firmly at the edges and cut the excess fabric. Remove the push pins. 


Can you use fabric on walls?

Using fabric on walls might initially seem strange, but it has several benefits. For one thing, the fabric can add warmth and coziness to a room, making it feel more welcoming and inviting. It can also help to soften the look of a room, adding texture and complexity where there is often only a flat surface. 

Additionally, adding fabric to your walls can easily customize your home decor with patterns and colors you love.

How do you put fabric on walls without damaging it?

The best way to put fabric on the wall without damaging the fabric (or the walls) is by using liquid starch. This efficient method makes it easy to take down the fabric later if you get bored and want to change it. 

Is fabric cheaper than wallpaper?

While some may initially assume that wallpaper tends to be the more affordable option, this is only sometimes the case. When considering all of the factors involved – materials, buying patterns, and installation costs – it is often found that fabric can be cheaper than wallpaper in the long run. 

How do you apply vinyl fabric to a wall?

It would help if you prepared your wall by smoothing out any bumps or protrusions. Depending on the wall’s surface material, you can do this using a primer or spackle. Measure and cut your vinyl fabric to fit the desired area of the wall. To apply it, first ensure that the sticky side is facing up, then use a soft cloth or gloved hand to press it firmly against the wall’s surface. 

Based on your particular needs, you may also want to add additional adhesives like glue or Velcro to ensure your fabric stays in place.

Final Words

Wallpaper can be expensive and difficult to install, so many homeowners choose to cover their walls with fabric. Fabric is a versatile material that can be applied in several ways, and it’s often cheaper than wallpaper.

Although fabric wall coverings may seem like a new trend, they’ve been around for centuries. They offer a unique look that can be customized to your specific style and are often less expensive than wallpaper. If you are interested in using fabric on your walls, have a peek at our wide selection of fabrics for the job!

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