Help me cover a wall in 11x17 color copies
February 23, 2013 10:07 PM   Subscribe

I would like to cover an entire bedroom wall in color photocopies. I have put this off for years, for fear of destroying my rental suite bedroom wall with whatever adhesive I used, but recently learned that some people have had success affixing images cut out from color copies (though not necessarily entire 11x17 sheets) to their walls using aerosol starch, and later being able to remove them without leaving any traces; others have failed to get the images to stick at all using this method. Have you experienced success or failure in attempts to do something similar? What are my other options here?

While it's fine if the copies get trashed if and/or when they eventually have to come down, it really would be preferable if the walls themselves were left in good –– if not indeed in perfect -- shape. (I had originally considered spray glue, but this would doubtlessly leave a nasty residue on the wall; another idea was the liquid starch, aka flour paste, which posterers use when affixing posters to street posts, but again: a nightmare to remove!) Has anyone attempted something like this -- either in an actual home or business, or perhaps in a theater or gallery setting -- and succeeded in later taking down the printed materials leaving the wall more or less intact?
posted by tenderly to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Something like 3M 75 Repositionable Clear Spray Adhesive?
posted by hanoixan at 10:11 PM on February 23, 2013

I would just use poster tack putty stuff, I get that you're wanting something more wallpapery, but a) that seems like a lot of work and b) that seems really iffy when you're renting. If you're not going to be brushing up against it all the time or anything, poster tack is going to be much safer for the walls.
posted by ansate at 10:21 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

The stuff ansate mentions can discolor paint over long periods. If you're repainting, no big deal.

I did this with a shitload of thumbtacks. Left minor holes that again were covered by a coat of paint. I also did 8.5 x 11, so had a lot more pages on the wall.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:58 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd be wary of using anything labeled as a spray adhesive. The product hanoixan mentions is "repositionable", but I think what that means is that you can reposition within the first few minutes to get the exact result you want. Not that it's easily removable in the long term.

I'm almost certain that I've used that very product before, and that it produced a permanent effect after a few seconds of buffer time to reposition as desired.

I did something like the effect you want in my college dorm room with blue painter's tape. The results weren't permanent, but it was fine for the year or so that I occupied the room. Painter's tape won't discolor paint, but it will remove paint if you don't peel off the tape carefully.
posted by Sara C. at 11:08 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

3M strips are great for this!
posted by dottiechang at 11:26 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah I think that spray adhesive just doesn't set immediately so you can work with it for a minute or so. Careful!
posted by radioamy at 11:51 PM on February 23, 2013

I've used spray starch to affix fabric to the walls of an entire room--it was a thin linen in pieces four feet wide x floor to ceiling height. I had to wash the walls when I took it down but there was no damage. I'm not sure what it would do to the paper (maybe nothing, maybe it would make the color bleed through, maybe it would just turn the paper to glue) but by itself the starch is unlikely to damage the walls. Try a test piece!
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 12:16 AM on February 24, 2013

I would use watered down Elmer's white glue (use Elmer's brand specifically as its been designed to be weaker and washable compared to other pva white glues). When you move out Peel the paper down, wash the wall lightly with warm water and your done.
posted by chasles at 5:31 AM on February 24, 2013

Look for scrapbooker's clear sticky double-sided mounting squares. I think Post-it and 3M both make them. They can't hold up anything heavy-- I tried using them to mount a collection of vintage photos on a wall, and only about half stayed up-- but they should be fine for sheets of printer paper.
posted by nonasuch at 7:52 AM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Spray adhesive will remain weakly tacky, similar to a post-it, if you spray it on something, let it dry, and THEN stick it to its intended target.

What worries me more about your plan is that color copies are really expensive.
posted by milk white peacock at 8:38 AM on February 24, 2013

Thank you all for the 'helpful hints'.

milk white peacock (and others): I do have experience with 3M photomount products (though not on walls!), and I dismissed their suitability for this project due to the fact that they do leave behind a residue that would be difficult to remove (but if left to dry and then stuck on when weakly tacky, I know they can eventually become altogether unstuck; perhaps there is a sweet spot in the gluing/applying process where no residue would be left on the mounted surface and where they would not eventually loosen, but this might be difficult to zero in on with absolute consistency).

peanut_mcgillicuty: I understand there are different qualities/grades of spray starch; would you happen to remember which one you used? Also, I'm curious how you sprayed those 8+ feet of linen: did you lay them out flat on the floor to spray them in one go, or in some other manner?

chasles: I'm gonna try this out to see how well it works. How much watering down would you recommend? 50%? More than that?
posted by tenderly at 1:05 PM on February 25, 2013

I'm sure I bought the cheapest can of starch at the grocery store--this was in my first apartment post-college, and I had NO money. I believe I sprayed the wall directly and then stuck the fabric on.

Good luck!
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 2:38 PM on February 26, 2013

The 3M strips I'm referring to are the "Command" line of products designed to leave NO residue and remove cleanly. They are seriously magic. They sell them at places like Target or hardware stores.
posted by dottiechang at 4:30 PM on February 27, 2013

Sorry didn't follow this closely enough. I'd say start 75/25 glue to water and experiment from there.
posted by chasles at 4:08 PM on March 2, 2013

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