Hey guys, today I’m sharing my process for how to cover walls with fabric.
So, why’d I choose fabric? Two reasons:
1- it was way cheaper than the wallpaper that I found in the same print;
2- hanging wallpaper intimidates the heck out of me
Not much. You only need a few things: (affiliate links included- see my policy here)
- the fabric you are using (here’s a link to what I used)
- some liquid starch (linking on Amazon for your convenience, but I found it WAY cheaper at a local discount store) (I used two 64 oz bottles for my project and had a little to spare)
- a box cutter with a good blade
- something with a good edge to work the fabric into the little nooks and crannies. I used a drywall smoothing blade, which worked great!
- A paint tray, roller, and liner.
- Some thumb tacks- a good handful
How to cover walls with fabric: step by step
1- Make sure that you are starting with a good clean surface. If you have a strong color or pattern on the walls, you’ll want to paint over them to keep it from showing through the fabric. Remember my stripes that were in here? Gone now:
2- Measure your fabric, allowing an extra two inches on all sides. Then measure again. Ask me how I found out this is important. And how I almost ran out of fabric due to a bad cut.
3- Find a large, clean work surface to spread your fabric on. The only place that I had room to do this was the kitchen floor. It doesn’t matter which side of your fabric is up or down- it’s all going to get saturated in the next step:
4- Pour your liquid starch into the paint tray, load up your roller with the starch, and roll the starch over the fabric, covering it completely.
Yup, the liquid starch definitely changes the color of the fabric, but don’t worry- you’ll see it return back to normal as it dries.
5- Once the fabric is covered with the liquid starch, fold the fabric over onto itself.
6- While that’s simmering, take your roller, load it up with more starch, and roll the starch on the walls where you want your fabric.
7- When your walls are covered, get your fabric and position it on the wall. Have your thumb tacks ready to go for this part. I would recommend that you have a friend help you here. There were definitely a couple of times that I had to call on Michael because it kept slipping down before I tacked it (Hence, no pictures of this step) and it helped to have an extra set of hands.
8-Use your hands to smooth, smooth, smooth! Any wrinkles that you see in the fabric are easily smoothed out with your hands, but the smoothing blade does a great job as well.
9-Tack your fabric at the top when you have the fabric about where you want it to be. The thumb tacks will help hold the weight of the fabric while you do the final positioning, and will keep the fabric in place while it is drying out. Make sure you allow for two inches on the top of the fabric, baseboards, and walls.
10- Continue your way around the room until you have all of your walls covered. As you go, use the smoothing blade to push the fabric into corners, door jambs, etc., to ensure a clean edge.
11- Wait for your walls to dry completely before you trim off any excess. Dry time took several hours for me.
12- Use your box cutter, with a sharp blade, to trim the excess fabric from the baseboards, doorframe, and ceiling. These pics are the extra fabric that was against the door in the pic above. You can see how I had used the smoothing blade to really push the fabric into the corner, which made it much easier to get a good clean cut with box cutter:
But how do I…
…deal with corners?
I wrapped the fabric completely around the corners. If you use the smoothing blade to push the fabric into the inner corners and get a good clean line, your corners will look perfect when dry!
…handle fabric ends?
I just folded the ends of the fabric over and used the smoothing blade to make a good sharp line. Although initially the pattern lined up perfectly, as it dried, it shifted a bit (shrunk I guess?).
So if you are a perfectionist, this would probably really bother you. If this is you, might I suggest a fabric without such a geometric pattern, so that lines like this will be less obvious? I am so not a perfectionist though, so this doesn’t bother me in the least. Say-lah-vee!
…get the starch from the roller into tricky places, like corners and the top of the wall near the ceiling?
I used a paint brush for this part- just dipped it into the starch and basically painted it on the walls in any tight spots. We’re planning to add some molding to the top so I wasn’t too stressed about the ceiling, but I did make sure to do this in the corners where it could be a tight fit with the roller.
…handle going over the tops of doors and windows?
I just measured several inches beyond the door and cut. Then, I cut a smaller piece of fabric to size, lined it up with where the fabric piece over the door ended, folded the fabric ends together, and smoothed them out. Basically, I just patched a piece over the top of the door. Here’s what it looked like when completed (sorry for the bad pic):
So you really can’t tell at all that the piece over the door is patched- it looks like one continuous piece of fabric. Honestly I did it this way because I figured it would be way easier than trying to measure and cut the fabric accurately (since I was running out of fabric from a bad measuring job earlier…ahem…) and because I was confident that I could get the fabric pieces to line up (they did!).
It’s not done- I still need to trim the excess from most of the walls- but you can get a really good idea of what it will look like.
The fabric dries very stiff, and it is definitely secure on the wall. It will only come off if someone pulls it off.
All in all, I am super pleased with this project. It took about 4 hours, and it saved me about $75 compared to wallpaper and was a lot less intimidating.
Want a quick peek at the finished mudroom?
Next on the blog: Monday, Monday on, er, Monday, with my Pin of the Week, Hi-Lo, Real Estate Spy, and more! Plus, Tuesday I’m sharing the most important tip that I can give you for painting. See you then!
Update: I wrote an update to how these walls are holding up, as well as all of the FAQ’s I’ve received on this project, here.
Don’t forget to Pin this project so you can save it for later!