Wall Decals, Transfers and Murals: Damage-Free Retro Decor

Retro Staff 1  Comment
The Big Apple Wall Decals

Wall decals are easy to apply – just peel and stick!

Decorating the walls of the home or office doesn’t have to require a hammer, or hard labor. While tin signs and posters are great for decorating, they limit your options if you don’t want to pound holes in the walls—something renters and dorm dwellers may not be able to do.  I certainly wouldn’t want you to lose your security deposit due to your love of retro design!

Wall decals, wall transfers, and wallpaper murals are a great alternative—they still add depth and style without damaging paint and “wipe clean” walls. All three can easily be applied, but there are key differences.

Wall Decals

Removable wall decals are the easiest of the bunch to apply.  They require a clean, flat surface and, depending on the size of the decal and your preference, a level, painter’s tape, and an extra pair of hands.  Wall decals are peel and stick, and are removable later with minimal effort. Some of these decals can be repositioned (which is noted in the features).

Here’s a short video explaining the installation of small wall decals (12″ to 24″):


Large wall decals (up to 48″) take a little more time, but the ease of installation makes them an ideal solution to heavy, pricey artwork.

Wall Transfers

Snowdon Giant Transfer Wall Decal

Many wall transfers provide the design pieces in sections so you can modify the overall look.

Rub-on wall transfers require more slightly more elbow grease to apply, but it’s worth it because  many retro wall transfers let you create your own design.

To apply removable rub-ons, you cut out the pieces of your transfer and plan out how you’d like it to look on your wall.  Pre-planning is essential because these are one-time-use-only. Then, remove the white backing and position your transfer on the wall (it should stick on its own).  With a flat edge, (a credit card makes a perfect tool), start at the middle of the decal and rub outwards.  Remove the clear film and voila!  You’re done.

Giant wall transfers are great for making a fashion statement and they’re easy to peel off the wall if you want a change.


Removable Wall Murals

Massive Green Lantern Wallpaper Mural

This Green Lantern wall mural is a giant 126″ wide by 72″ high. Because you apply using panels, these murals can seamlessly turn a corner of a room.

From classic Disney characters to Star Wars, wall murals are a must for anyone looking for “big” style.  They look like wallpaper, but can be completely removed later (without steaming or scraping).

Wall murals are for one-time use, and while they take more work to apply, the results make the prep and labor worth the time.

Prior to installing a wall mural you need to prime the wall with clear wallpaper primer (you’ll find it at any hardware or home improvement store).  For easier application, cut your mural into seven separate panels.  Roll each panel and dip it into warm water to wet the adhesive—it’s pre-pasted so there’s no struggling with wallpaper paste.  Apply the panel to the wall and smooth with your hands starting at the bottom.  Use a brush or sponge to further smooth the panel, working out air bubbles as you go.  Keep repeating this process until all your panels are in place, and then step back and admire your work!

And there you have it! Three solutions to decorating in non-permanent retro style.

Have you decorated the home or office (or dorm, or apartment) with decals, transfers or murals? We’d love to see your design!



Last updated: Oct 13, 2013
Filed under: Retro Decorating Ideas, Retro Design Tagged with: retro design, retro kids, wall decor