The Paint Dunit! Why Your Wall Decals Won’t Stick

Sherlock Holmes using magnifying glass on a painted wall

By: Naomi J. Myrick, Staff Writer

Deep breaths. Don’t blame yourself; blame the paint. In this little guide, I’m going to discuss some paint-ful reasons why your wall decals or wall stickers won’t stick.

I’ll cover:

  • How VOC level affects adhesives
  • Proper curing time
  • Paint finishes
  • Wall texture

Let’s go.

How low-VOC Paint Affects Adhesion

What the heck is VOC? It stands for, "Volatile Organic Compounds” and it can mess up your vinyl wall decal hopes and dreams. 

This article by 3M notes that, ”Paints that are low in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are now the most commonly available wall paint. These newer paint formulations are being driven by laws intended to help protect the environment – something we can all appreciate. However, the new paint formulations have reduced how well a film’s adhesive can adhere to a painted wall.”

Low or no-VOC also has to do with fire retardant. Basically, the higher the VOC, the easier it is to burn. Usually, we don’t want our walls to burn. That’s probably why it is a very popular paint option.

Vertec Biosolvents has a great article about VOCs. Basically, when modern paint dries, it releases VOC gas. These are toxic gasses, not just wall graphic hindrances. Don’t sniff paint.

Settle Down: Let the Paint Cure

Even as a lowly staff writer, I know that freshly painted surfaces need to rest. Let the paint cure, not just dry, but cure. 

This can take great patience and many sandwiches. Some paints require weeks to properly cure, so investigate according to the paint you’re using. Two weeks is ample time to go to the gym, and work off all the sandwiches of defiance. Just sayin’.

Proper curing is crucial for the paint, wall, your mental health and alas, the phenomenal decal you’re itching to install. Like moving in with a boyfriend or girlfriend; you need to let the paint settle in. Be disciplined. 

Paint Finishing Options Matter

You’re reading this because you likely already own a wall decal or two or would like to. We offer glossy or matte finishing laminations, and paint is similar. 

In paint’s case, it is either eggshell or satin. Another way to phrase that is flat and porous or shiny and smooth. You get the idea. 

But did you know that this finishing choice can have an impact on your wall decal adhesion? Yup. The rule with stickers, decals and labels is that the smoother the surface, then usually the easier and better the will adhere and stay.

The Impact of Textured Walls

Another potential problem area for your wall decals is the wall texture. In general, most decals will adhere better to smooth walls. They can adhere to bumpy or textured walls, too, but usually not as well. Just a heads up for your decal considerations

To sum up, paint truly affects the adhesion process of wall decals. Even 3M admits that, ”with the rapidly changing  formulations of paints, there is no single film or adhesive from any film manufacturer that works best on all painted surfaces.”

Be sure to check out our installation guides for more information and instruction.