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How to Use Liquid Starch to Apply Fabric to a Wall

Ronna Pennington

Using liquid starch to adhere fabric to a wall offers a decorating solution for those who cannot paint or wallpaper.

Using liquid starch to adhere fabric to a wall gives you an alternative to paint and wallpaper. The fact that it is easy to remove with very little cleanup makes it a good choice for renters or dorm-dwellers.

    Clean the Wall

  1. Clean the wall with a damp cloth or sponge. Use the stepladder to reach the upper section. Allow the wall to dry thoroughly.

  2. Measure the Wall

  3. Measure the length and height of the wall in inches. Multiply the length times the height to get the total number of square inches of fabric required for the project (l x h = i). Divide that total by 1,296 (36-inch-wide fabric x 36 inches equals 1 square yard) to determine how many yards of 36-inch-wide fabric you need (i /1,296 = total yards). For example, a 9x9-foot wall translates to 11,664 inches. Divide 11,664 by 1,296 to determine that you need 9 yards of 36-inch-wide fabric for the project. If the fabric is 45 inches wide, divide by 1,620. If the fabric is 60 inches wide, divide by 2,160.

  4. Determine Panels

  5. Determine how many fabric panels you need by dividing the width of the wall in inches by the width of your selected fabric. Cotton dress and quilting fabrics are typically 45 inches wide. Some decorator fabrics are 60 inches wide.

  6. Cut Fabric Panels

  7. Trim away uneven sides or selvedges of the fabric. Measure down and cut the fabric into panels the height of the wall. Add a little extra to the measurement with each cut.

  8. Soak the Fabric

  9. Pour about a cup of liquid starch into the bucket; add more as needed. Dip the center panel of your fabric into the bucket and saturate with the starch. It is okay to ball up the fabric in the process, but be sure to soak the entire piece of fabric. Wring out excess starch.

  10. Secure the Fabric

  11. Pin the center fabric panel to the top center of the wall. Smooth out the fabric from top to bottom, working your way down the strip and pressing the fabric against the wall until it is adhered.

  12. Add More Panels

  13. Starch the next panel and match its pattern or design to the starched piece already hanging on the wall. Adhere the next piece to the top of the wall with pins, then smooth out the fabric from top to bottom, working your way down the strip. Continue adding strips to the wall until it is covered.

  14. Touch-Up Time

  15. Take a look at the fabric panels. Do you see bumps, bubbles or wrinkles in the fabric? If so, wet the paintbrush with some liquid starch and paint it right on top of the trouble area. Use your hands to gently smooth away any imperfections. Allow the fabric to dry thoroughly. This could take as long as 24 hours.

  16. Trim Away Excess

  17. Trim the excess fabric at the top and bottom of the wall with the thin-blade knife. Use a straightedge if you are worried about making crooked cuts. Remove the pins. Brush a little extra starch on top of the fabric if trimming has pulled some of the edges loose.


Light-to-medium-weight cotton fabrics work best for hanging with starch. Look for dress and quilting cottons for best results. Upholstery fabrics are too heavy for this project.


Starched fabric will adhere to every nook and cranny on the wall. For this reason, walls with little to no texture are best for this process.


Always buy an extra yard of fabric to allow for mistakes and for pattern matching.


Always check the width of your fabric before you buy. Width information is generally printed on one end of the bolt. If not, simply measure to determine the fabric's width.


Match any printed pattern on your fabric as you cut the panels. Matching them as you cut them results in fewer mistakes.


When it's time to change up your fabric wall, simply dampen the fabric with a cloth or sponge and pull the fabric away from the wall. Once it is all down, use a damp cloth to wash away any remaining residue.