How to Make a Temporary Wall Mural

Renter-Friendly Wall Mural

Create a statement wall for less than the price of a pedicure, fully removable!

Post college on a budget. I get it. Renting is the decorator’s worst nightmare. You’re fresh out of college and want to finally start decorating your room and house the ways you have always wanted. You have loads of Pinterest boards full of ideas and dreams to put up on your wall. I’m the same way, but I always like to do things a little more extreme than most people. I wanted LARGE wall art but I didn’t want a big picture frame or even a blown up photo or poster.

Oh no. I wanted, nay, NEEDED a mural.

A full wall, dedicated to a HUGE photo of an elegant lion.

Finally, in my Junior year of college I lived in an apartment with the perfect wall for my lion. Following these tips and tricks will put you well on your way to making a statement wall all on your own and the best part: when you move out or want to switch things up, the mural is completely and easily removable!! No wall damage, which means you can get your security deposit back and save a few bucks!

To get your project started you will first need:
  • Scissors
  • Blue tack (optional but helpful)
  • Paint tray
  • Paint roller (any will do)
  • Cornstarch


Measure wall

Here you’re going to want the exact dimensions that you’re trying to cover. This may take some trial and error depending on how big you want the image to be and how much of the wall you are trying to cover. For my lion I wanted as much of the wall as possible to be covered. After measuring the wall and how big the prints can be, I ended up with about 1 inch of leftover space total (Keep this in mind if you need to center your image when putting it up).


Find image

As with most DIY projects, especially one of this scale, there is a certain amount of trial and error that you have to work through. When looking for the perfect image, try using free stock photos online, or the oldie but goodie Google Image Search. One site I found that has excellent photos under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) which means all of the photos are up for public use without the need for attribution!

While searching for the perfect mural image keep a few things in mind to get the best quality photo:

The bigger the image the better. You’re going to want the image to be as high quality as possible so that when it is blown up to the final mural size the distortion is minimal.

Play with search words such as “wallpaper” “background” “HD”. When I searched for my lion I initially typed in “hd lion wallpaper” and then used settings to get the largest image from the selection.

The prints we will be using for this are black and white because they are made for blueprints and other less aesthetically pleasing projects. It may be helpful to turn your computer monitor to black and white in the settings so that you get a better idea of how the image will actually look put up in your house. Other options to do this include downloading the image and altering it to black and white from there.


Get general proportions and fit image

Once you have found the perfect image for your wall it’s time to crop it down to a useable size. Keep in mind that most engineer prints are about 40 inches wide (check with your local print shop so make sure that you divide the width of the wall you want to use into 40 inch sections so you know how much of your image you have to work with. There are a couple ways to do this but basically you want to make sure that your image is cropped to the same proportions that you measured your wall to be.


Splice Image

Engineer prints can be about 40 inches wide and however long you want. Once you have your image and the measurements all worked out, then go ahead and cut your image in the strips that you will send to the print shop. I used to cut my image into the three wallpaper strips I needed.

Find Print Shop

I recommend looking up a local print shop and double checking that they can print the entire length of the image in one strip (I tried Staples initially and they only gave me the top half of my image and charged and arm and a leg for it). With a proper engineer print machine, the shop should be able to make your print as long as you need to cover the wall from ceiling to floor! Using the local print shop near me my total was about $7 dollars per photo panel and I had 3 panels that I needed to cover my wall. That total alone for the mural was only $21 which was much cheaper than I anticipated this project being.


Prepare Your Wall

Although this isn’t a very messy project, it does require some room to get put up. Make sure that you have plenty of room so you do not risk ruining your mural!


Make glue mixture

Here’s where I had to get creative with the mural. I had seen similar posts from other DIY bloggers about putting up cool wall art with wallpaper paste or other adhesives but I was RENTING a college apartment and really could not afford to buy an expensive “self-stick” mural online that I could only have up for a couple of months before I moved out, and I really didn’t want to risk ruining the wall.

Then I found a recipe for a temporary paste made only with water and corn starch! With cornstarch costing less than a dollar, this project was taking off and ending up being VERY affordable.

To make the paste, mix about ½ cup of cold water with ¼ cup corn starch. Once mixed together, pour in about 4 cups of boiling water and mix together to create the paste.


Apply to walls!

Once your paste has cooled down to a usable temperature it’s time to put up your mural!! I put mine up all my myself but having a helping hand will definitely make the job less stressful. Here you can use the blue tac to aid in gluing up the image but it’s probably easiest to start in the middle and work the image onto the wall that way.

And you’re done!!! Enjoy your new statement wall and impress your friends when they think they’re walking into a plain ole room and then BAM! They have a lion (or whatever you choose for your wall) staring them down as you casually announce that you put the wall up yourself!

To take the wall off you just use regular water to dampen the image and SLOWLY peel from the wall, making sure not to leave any paper behind. I used the same paint roller that I put the mural up with but a spray bottle would do the trick just the same!

Let me know if you have any comments or questions about how to make your very own wall! I would love to hear if you are planning to make one yourself or to see the finished project!
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