Starching fabric to walls is one of my all time favorite projects because the results are always so fantastic.
Matt and I have tackled the project of starching fabric to walls at least three times in residences, and then we took the whole process on the road one year as well. Why do I mention this? Well, because many people wonder about the sturdiness of starching fabric to the walls and I’m here to say that it works. We carried three 8 foot starched fabric walls around with us, shoving them into our van, carrying them through home shows and just generally abusing them, and the fabric never budged.
I guess this means that in your home, with regular wear and tear, starched fabric could stay on the walls forever!! However, the beauty of this process is that the opposite also holds true as well. If you want to get the fabric off of the walls, simply pick at a corner of the fabric and pull. It will come off without harming the wall and you can even wash and use the fabric again if you like. This makes this technique perfect for people who move alot, like to change their decor often, or for those living in aprtments where altering the walls is frowned upon. If you are interested, here is the step by step instruction.
- Fabric of your choice
- Several bottles of fabric starch
- Wallpaper smoothing device
- Scissors or utility knife
- Push pins
- Drop cloth
- Paper towels
Good quality decorator fabrics work very nicely for this technique, as do sturdy cottons. To keep your sanity, consider using a pattern that may not need to be matched and stay away from stripes and plaids…at least for your first try! Overall patterns work great, like paisleys, florals and geometrics!
1. Start by measuring the height of the wall space to be covered, add 6” to this dimension, and cut out your fabric strips.
2. Methodically dip the fabric panel into the starch and make sure that the entire piece is coated on the front and back. It doesn’t need to be dripping, just wet all over with starch. Try to sqwueegee some of the starch out of the fabric as you pull it out of the bucket or sink to save the starch and keep it from dripping all over the floor.
3.Straighten out the fabric panel by holding it up with two hands at the upper corners and then go to the wall. Place the fabric into position and press it on the wall into place. Allow the first panel of fabric to wrap slightly around the corner. Use your hands or the wallpaper smoother to get out all the bubbles.
I used push pins to hold one end of the fabric in place while I smoothed the other end.
4. Once the fabric is smooth on the wall, you need to trim off the extra at the top and bottom. I used a very sharp utility knife and a flat blade just like I would with wallpaper. The type of fabric you use will determine your cutting and trimming method. My fabric was woven so the loose threads kept unraveling which was a big problem. I found that if I waited until the starch was dry it was easier to cut a straight, unfrayed edge. If you use a regular printed cotton fabric, it won’t do this.
Tip: If you need to cut around pipes or outlets, simply press your fabric in place the best you can, push pin it in areas slightly away from the area you are cutting out, and start with a small slit made with scissors. Once you verify that the small slit is in the right location, cut a larger slit until you can push the pipe through or find the edges of the outlet to cut around. Just take it slowly and you’ll be fine.
Last, let me mention that I did get a little bit of bubbling once the fabric had dried and stiffened. To remedy this I grabbed a paint brush and some starch and painted the starch over the bubbly area to saturate it again and I pressed it in place. This worked well and everything is still lying as flat as can be.
If by some chance you have jagged edges that need to be covered up, purchase a braided trim and hot glue it along the edge for a nice finishing touch. I used this to hide the staples on the fabric I upholstered to the wall but it would work on the starch as well.
In another article I’ll explain the upholstering method. It isn’t as difficult as it sounds and the results are amazing.