An empty wall is like a blank canvas – there are limitless possibilities for how to fill it. A wall mural is one such possibility that has a number of unique advantages.

Today we’re going to discuss everything there is to know about customized wall murals and decals. We’ll explain how they’re made, what kinds you can get, and why they are a viable option for any kind of decorating you want to do. Wall murals are much simpler to design and install than you might think, can save a ton of space, and are cost effective to boot. If you want to make your space really pop, here are the ins and outs of custom wall murals.

guide to wall murals


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Wall Murals & Decals 101

What is a wall mural?
What is a wall decal?
How are wall murals and decals printed?
What are the advantages of wall murals?
How long do wall murals last?

Wall Mural Installation & Removal

Where can I install a wall mural or decal?
Are wall murals removable?
Can a wall mural be applied more than once?
Can you install a vinyl wall mural outdoors?
Wall mural installation instructions.
Wall mural removal instructions.
Can I install a new wall mural immediately after removing an old one?

Designing a Custom Wall Mural

Home wall murals
Office wall murals


Wall Murals & Decals 101


What is a wall mural?

When most people think of a mural, they imagine something that an artist paints by hand. While this is true of many different murals, from the Sistine Chapel to street art and graffiti, many murals are printed. A printed mural is basically an image printed on adhesive vinyl in the dimensions of the wall space it is meant to cover. This is good news, because it means you don’t need to be an artist to install a wall mural in your space.

what is a wall mural


What is a wall decal?

A wall decal is similar to a wall mural in that it is an image printed on adhesive vinyl and applied to a wall. The difference is that a wall decal does not typically cover the entire surface area of the wall, where as a wall mural does. Typography, for example, tends to be best printed as a wall decal. A good comparison may be to think of wall murals like wall paper, and wall decals like stickers. Printing and application is the same for both!

what is a wall decal


How are wall murals and decals printed?

Custom wall murals are printed on adhesive vinyl using special large-format printers. The necessary equipment is bulky, expensive, and requires special software and expertise for operation and maintenance. In short, this isn’t the kind of printer people typically have in their homes. Custom wall mural printing is a task that should be handled by printing and graphics professionals.


What are the advantages of wall murals?

Wall murals are a super economical design option in both price and function. Here are some reasons you should consider installing a wall mural in your home, office, or business:

Space Saver: Wall murals add a ton of visual interest without taking up any space. They don’t block the flow of traffic, obstruct electrical outlets, or take up room where people or furniture could go.

Infinite Design Options: You can print any image, in any color, cut to any shape. Sky is the limit.

Lease friendly decoration: No drilling holes in the wall. No nails or screws. No trace left behind. You won’t have to worry about losing your deposit.

Installs in minutes: Super easy installation can be done in a matter of minutes, even without professional help.

Low maintenance: Your work is done after application. You won’t even have to dust it, like you would with furniture, shelving, or hanging art.

As you can see, wall murals and decals are far better and more reliable than other forms of decoration, so if you want to change the appearance of your interior space, you should consider looking at this versatile and affordable option.

wall decals


How long do wall murals last?

Since you are not using permanent materials such as paint, nails, or other kinds of fixtures, you may be wondering how long your decal can realistically last. The life span of a wall mural or wall decal depends on a variety of factors, but the average printed wall mural lasts about five years before the image or adhesive start to show any signs of aging. Lower quality vinyl or temporary wall murals typically start to degrade around the three year mark.

As far as coloration and wearing out, vinyl is a rather robust material that can hold up to most environments with ease. Your typical home or office environment is perfect for a wall mural. Environments in which a wall mural may degrade more quickly are those in which the vinyl is continually exposed to elements like extreme heat or cold, moisture, smoke, oils, and direct sunlight. Murals installed in spaces like the outdoors, commercial kitchens, or crowded dance clubs may need to be replaced more frequently.


Vinyl Wall Mural Installation & Removal


Where can I install a wall mural or decal?

Wall mural installation works on plenty of surfaces. The wall mural adhesive is especially suited for flat, smoot surfaces, including walls, windows, and doors. Though the backing can adhere to rougher surfaces, like exposed brick, this isn’t ideal and can detract from the longevity of the mural. We recommend plastering over rougher surfaces before applying a wall mural or decal.


Are wall murals removable?

Printed wall murals are generally easily removed. Higher quality vinyl typically has a low-adhesive backing that won’t leave any sticky residue behind on the surface – we use 3M vinyl for this reason. Some cheaper vinyl materials, though removable in theory, don’t make it easy. Furthermore, they can damage the surface beneath them upon removal. If preserving the surface underneath is a priority for you, make sure you do your research about the vinyl.


Can a wall mural be applied more than once?

It is possible to reapply the same mural after removal, but it’s not ideal. For the most part, you can only place the mural or decal once or twice before the adhesive wears down, so it’s imperative that you figure out the proper placement before you set it up.

Storing the mural in between applications may also pose a problem. As you will no doubt have noticed, if you want to reposition your mural or put it somewhere else, you don’t have the luxury of a backing to keep it from folding in on itself or bubbling. Wax paper can be used as a temporary backing while you work on reapplying the mural.

If you want something more reusable, there are decals made of specialized fabric with a unique adhesive on the back. These murals and decals can be repositioned and taken down multiple times without losing their stick, but they tend to be pricy.


Can you install a vinyl wall mural outdoors?

Yes, outdoor wall mural installation is possible. If you do plan on putting a decal or mural on a surface outdoors, you will need to purchase a version that is built to withstand the elements. Some options will have a better adhesive that won’t melt or fade in direct sunlight, as well as colors that won’t wear down as easily. Lamination is another option. But it is important to keep in mind that, although there are lots of steps you can take to extend the life of an outdoor mural, but nothing will make it last forever.


How to install a wall mural

Whether it’s a small sticker to put in a corner or it’s a massive, wall to wall mural that will make your room look more dynamic, it’s imperative that you follow proper procedure when placing your decal. Even if it is reusable fabric and adhesive, the less you have to mess with it, the better. If possible, try to get it right on the first try. To ensure that that happens, follow these wall mural installation steps.

Step One: Plan Ahead

Before you order your custom wall mural or decal, get out your tape measure. Make sure you have all of the dimensions right so that the image fills exactly the space that you want it to!

One thing about decorating your interior is that it can be difficult to imagine what something will look like until you actually put it into place. This is another advantage that vinyl decals have since you can affix the design with some tape beforehand to see how it will affect the feel and appearance of the room before you stick it in place.

Overall, try a few different placements to see what works best, particularly if you are going to be putting more than one decal at a time. This will help make sure that you don’t have to rearrange everything after the fact. It’s far easier to shift things around before they are applied.

Step Two: Clean the Surface

Even if you don’t see any dirt or grime on the surface, you should still wipe it down. A damp cloth is all it takes to ensure that the surface is free from any dust or particles that could affect the longevity of the adhesive. You want the adhesive to stick to the wall and not to a layer of dirt or dust in between.

Paint and Its Effect – One thing to keep in mind is that wall decals are best when applied to a matte paint rather than a gloss. So, if you do have a glossy coat on your surface, you may want to add a matte layer on top so that your decal will stay up longer. This step is not always necessary, but if you want to make sure that your mural won’t peel, it could be a viable option.

Textured Walls – In some cases, the surface may be bumpy and rough, which means that you have to be extra careful when placing your decal or mural. It will still apply and look fantastic, but you have to make sure that you get into the cracks and bumps of the surface when applying so that it won’t start to peel right away.

Step Three: Start from the Top

When you get your decal or mural, it will have a plastic backing that you will need to remove to get to the adhesive. When placing your design, it’s much better to take off this backing as you go, rather than pulling it off first and trying to apply the whole thing at once. Doing it this way will ensure that you don’t have any problems such as air bubbles or pinching of the material.

Use a Level – If you are worried about the decal coming out crooked, then mark the top and bottom with a pencil and a level so that you can be sure that you’re on point. Use a soft tip pencil or something else that can easily rub off after the fact.

Step Four: Slowly Peel and Press

Once you have the top of your decal or mural in place, you will want to work in a calm and deliberate manner. There are no extra points for putting it up quickly, so take your time and do it right. Peel the backing down a little bit and then press the vinyl against the wall as you go. For best results, take a step back every so often to make sure that you’re not crooked or uneven. Also, watch out for air bubble or pinching and try to correct these issues as they arise. Bubbles will be practically impossible to remove after the fact, so take care of them as soon as possible. If necessary, pull the vinyl up and then start again on the same area so you can ensure proper adhesion.

Use Something Flat for Smoothing – While you could do it all with your hands, it’s usually better if you have something that can do the job for you. A ruler, a book, or some other flat surface will do the trick and ensure that you get a perfect seal on the first try.

Step Five: Finish Removing the Backing

Once you’ve finally reached the bottom of your decal, take the rest of the backing off and smooth the edges. If you did it correctly, then your design should be free of any pinches or bubbles, and the corners will be flush with the wall. Afterward, wipe off any marks you made and then wipe down the decal with a warm, damp cloth. This will help seal the bond and keep it up longer.


How do you remove a wall mural?

Eventually, there may come a time when you want to take your mural or decal down. Perhaps it’s faded or peeling, or maybe you want to replace it with something else. When taking a decal off the wall, it’s best to start in the top corner and slowly peel it towards the opposite side. If you get a good angle for leverage, the mural should peel off in a single sheet.


Can I install a new wall mural immediately after removing an old one?

After removing an old wall mural, you can install a new one pretty much immediately. If you used a high quality vinyl mural, there shouldn’t be adhesive backing left behind. However, to make sure that your wall is clean and ready for the next one you can wipe it down with a warm, wet towel. This should remove any leftover adhesive and provide you with a clean, fresh slate for the next wall mural installation.


Designing a Custom Wall Mural

Now that you’ve seen how easy it is to get and apply a wall mural or decal, you probably have a few ideas in mind that you want to try. However, it’s important that you take your time to figure out a plan of action beforehand so that you can be sure that your new decal or mural will complement your space, as well as everything else in it. Let’s go over some basic design guidelines to help you get started.


Wall murals for homes

Wall murals can be a fabulous and unique addition to any home, transforming your space from ordinary to one-of-a-kind. We recommend the following design tips as you begin brainstorming ideas for a custom wall mural.

Form Follows Function

When thinking about decorating any kind of space, first think about what happens there, and the kind of energy you’d like to cultivate for that activity. For example, you probably want your bedroom to be relaxing to promote good sleep, while your kitchen may be more energetic to promote great meals and conversation. When choosing an image for a custom wall decal, browse photos and art that incites the kind of energy in you that you’d like to have in your space.

bedroom wall mural


Elegance in Simplicity

While it may be tempting to get decals that cover most of your surface area, the fact is that negative space plays just as much of a role as positive. This means that you may want there to be some blank areas of the wall that direct attention to the decal or the design itself. Too much going on in one design can be overwhelming, even tacky.

What we suggest is starting with one piece and then slowly building from there. See how it fits on the wall by itself, and then add something else if it seems like you’re missing something. This will not only ensure that you avoid clutter, but it will be cheaper to implement as well.

yoga wall decal


Themes and Similar Patterns

One thing that you want to avoid is clashing. This happens when two designs are incongruous with each other, such as stripes next to polka dots. Fortunately, you can alternate between plans based on different rooms, but avoid placing two distinct aesthetics next to each other.


One common design element that you’ll find in many homes is the implementation of writing inspirational quotes. While this may seem like an elegant addition to your wall, you want to proceed with caution. If you are going to go this route, we highly suggest that you avoid cliched options, such as “live, laugh, love,” or any variation on that.

If you want a quote, then we recommend that you find one that speaks to you personally. It can be from a movie, a role model, or somewhere else, but if it relates to your particular interests, then it will have much more of an impact. A generic saying will make the space seem “store bought” and won’t have the same level of personality as it would if you hand select your quote.

Also, we highly suggest utilizing words with images whenever possible. Quotes can work well in minimalist spaces, but if you can punctuate it with a graphic, then it can add a bit of flair that would otherwise be lacking. For example, if you have a quote about family, then a portrait of your own family placed above it will accentuate the meaning and drive it home further.


Wall murals for offices

Designing an office wall mural is about striking a balance of branding and ergonomics. The good news is that wall murals are an awesome story telling medium, super functional, and can also add some serious spark to your office environment. Here’s how to start planning:


Compartmentalize Open Spaces

These days, it seems that open air offices are all the rage. Instead of a line of cubicles, now workers are encouraged to share their workspace with others to fuel creativity and productivity. As such, you may have a wide open floor plan with few distinctions between areas.

This is where wall murals can come into play. You can utilize various designs to make each section unique so that even though there aren’t physical divisions between them, they still feel separate from each other. The reason that this is so powerful is that it can provide a sense of enclosure and privacy, even when there aren’t any walls present.


Add Character

Just because the office is a place of business doesn’t mean that it has to feel drab or unimpressive. The common thing to do is choose a minimalist color palette and similar design choices so that you avoid too much contrast. However, a dash of personality can be the perfect addition to any office, so don’t be afraid to make a somewhat drastic mark on a space.

The important thing here is to make an impact without going overboard. For example, installing bold yellow wall decals in a space that is mostly white or gray will make it pop without being too hard on the eyes. Little flourishes like that can significantly improve a work area and help break up the monotony that can occur.

Chaotic Moon Office Mural


Opening Up Spaces

Just as the right mural can add some compartmentalization to an open floor plan, it can also create a feeling of depth and expanse to an enclosed area. Meeting rooms and offices can feel tight and cramped, but a mural of a cityscape or a landmark can make it feel much more open and comfortable. Bright, cheery colors can also go a long way if your office space doesn’t have much natural light.

Beats Conference Room Mural


Have more questions?

At Coastal Creative, we’ve printed and installed thousands of custom wall murals and decals. If there is anything else you’d like to know about how to transform your space with the wall mural of your dreams, leave a comment! We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.



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