How to Use Fabric for a Wall Border

Louise Harding

Using fabric for a wall border allows you to coordinate the border with other fabrics used throughout the room to enhance the décor. Fabric with a defined border or stripe is the easiest choice for a wall border, but any fabric can be used. According to Rental Decorating Digest, using light fabrics such as chintzes and polished cotton will yield the best results. Fabric borders are applied with liquid starch, which is a reliable adhesive.

Choose a fabric with a printed border for the best results when hanging a wall border.
  1. Wash the wall to be covered with the border with soap and water. Allow the wall to dry.

  2. Remove outlet and switch plates. Cover switches and outlets with painter's tape. Painter's tape is available at home improvement, hardware and discount stores.

  3. Measure the sections of the walls where the fabric border will be applied. You will place the fabric over outlets/switches or windows, so measure across the walls. If covering multiple walls, measure each wall separately so you can work in sections. Add 2 inches to each section's measurements to allow for fabric shrinkage. Because fabric is sold in widths of up to 54 inches, you will probably need more than one section of fabric border per wall.

  4. Determine the width of the border if your fabric doesn't have a pre-defined border pattern. Fabric with a border features solid lines with floral or other images centered between. Some borders have no lines but are clearly defined by scallops or other designs such as bows or ribbons. According to the Painting Techniques & Decorating Ideas website, for the best results you should choose a fabric that doesn't fray when cut.

  5. Cut the fabric to the length determined in Step 3 and the width determined in Step 4 if the fabric is borderless. Use chalk, if necessary, to draw a cutting line.

  6. Pour the liquid starch into the bucket. The amount of starch needed is determined by how much fabric is used. Liquid starch can be found in the laundry aisle in grocery, drug and discount stores.

  7. Insert the fabric pieces in the order they will be applied to the walls into the bucket. Hold the fabric above the bucket of starch and loosely fold it in a back and forth motion (like you would a paper fan) into the starch. Push the fabric beneath the starch.

  8. Remove the first section of fabric from the bucket. Hold the fabric over the bucket. Run the fabric through your fingers to remove the excess starch. The fabric should be wet when applied to the wall.

  9. Position the fabric onto the wall in the pre-determined position. Use a sponge to smooth the fabric to the wall beginning at the fabric border's center and working toward the edges. Squeeze excess starch from the sponge into the bucket.

  10. Remove the next section of fabric from the bucket. Remove excess starch. Overlap the fabric end by about 1 inch on top of the previously applied fabric. When the fabric dries it will shrink. If there is no overlap, the border will have gaps between the sections when it dries. Cover outlets, switches and windows. Don't attempt to trim the fabric while wet.

  11. Use a sponge to smooth each section onto the wall. Continue until all sections are applied. Allow the fabric to dry for about 24 hours or until completely dry and stiff.

  12. Clean drips with a wet sponge.

  13. Trim around all switches, outlets, and windows with a craft blade when the fabric border is stiff and dry. The fabric will cut like stiff paper.

  14. Replace the outlet and switch covers.