Do LED Light Strips Damage Walls?

When you’re living in rented accommodation, it can be challenging to put your mark on a place without permanent damage to fixtures and fittings.

Modern leasehold law empowers landlords to deduct money from a tenants’ deposit if they create holes, cracks, or chips.

Of course, nobody wants to lose money, so renters often feel restricted as to the customizations they can implement in their homes.

LED strip lights appear to offer a viable solution to this conundrum. They’re powerful enough to transform a room, making it feel homelier. Their adhesive, semi-permanent nature means they can easily be removed when it’s time to move out.

Are LED strip lights too good to be true?

LED strip lights are unlikely to damage walls, but this depends on various factors. The strength of their adhesive, the durability of paint or wallpaper, how long they’ve been applied for, and the climate can also impact how well LED strips bond to a surface.

If you’re thinking about purchasing LED strip lights, but you’re worried about damaging your walls, then listen up!

In this blog post, I’ll be talking about the type of adhesive used on LED strips, when LED strips are most likely to damage paint, and my fuss-free method for removing LED strips.

What Adhesive Material Is Used On LED Strip Lights?

Whether your LED strips are single-color, multi-color, 1 meter, or 10 meters, they probably all have one thing in common: they’re backed with 3M adhesive.

3M is the gold standard for adhesives – it’s known as the most durable tape on the market. This is because it’s made from high-performance acrylic.

Put simply, this acrylic is multi-faceted. It behaves like both a very viscous liquid and an elastic solid. This property is known as viscoelasticity.

Viscoelasticity allows the 3M adhesive to glide into irregularities and unevenness on the surface. It is applied to and form a very strong bond.

The result?

Durable LED strip lights can be fixed to a whole range of surfaces.

But, of course, 3M adhesive isn’t completely faultless.

Over time it loses stickiness, it doesn’t adhere well to glossy or oily surfaces. It doesn’t respond well to humidity and moisture. So 3M has its fair share of problems.

These flaws encourage people to take matters into their own hands. That is, by applying their own adhesives to LED strip lights.

I’ve seen people adopt all sorts of methods – foam tape, double-sided, glue dots, hot glue, and Gorilla tape, to name just a few.

What Type Of Wall Can Strip Lights Damage?

Let’s face it, interior design is ever-changing. Your style and choices today are not the same as those of 1, 5, or even 10 years ago.

Does anyone else remember begging their parents to let them paint their bedroom a flamboyant color? How would you feel about that decision today?

You’re probably not going to want the same LED strip lights in the same position forever. So how easy is it to remove them once they have been stuck down?

The answer depends on the type of surface you adhere to.

If your wall is tiled, wooden, or plastic, you should have no problems. The strips will be relatively easy to peel off and will cause no damage to the wall.

If anything, there may be some leftover adhesive residue that needs to be wiped clean.

However, problems may arise if your surface is bare drywall, coated in paint, or wallpapered. These surfaces are made up of several fragile layers, so they are more prone to damage.

Ultimately, wallpaper is just paper. If you apply strong adhesive to any kind of paper, it will form a good bond. That’s why we use sellotape when wrapping presents!

But when it comes time to remove your LED strips, you’ll struggle to separate the two components. Your wallpaper will likely tear, rip, or ripple.

This will be particularly frustrating if your wallpaper is patterned because any gaps will become extremely noticeable. Similarly, because the wallpaper is patterned you can’t just cover it with paint to disguise the damage.

Do LED Strip Lights Come Off Easily Without Peeling Paint?

On that note, you may be wondering how LED strips affect painted walls. Is paint more durable than wallpaper?

Again, it depends on the type of paint and the strength of the LED’s adhesive backing. Lots of different factors are at play here.

In simple terms, you need to work out how delicate your paint is.

Paint is not invincible, it ages and becomes more fragile over time. So paint that has been on the wall for several years is more likely to peel off with your LED strips.

Frustratingly, new paint isn’t the best option either. Although fresh paint may feel touch dry in around 24 hours, it usually takes between 2 and 4 weeks to fully cure.

If you apply LED strips to a newly painted wall, they will become part of the curing process.

Essentially, the bond between the LEDs and the paint will become stronger than the bond between the paint and the wall.

Unfortunately, that’s not all. The quality of your paint job will also have an impact. If you applied to paint on dusty, rusty, unprimed, or dirty walls, your paint would be compromised.

Your paint job will be much weaker and more susceptible to damage from LED strip lights. The wall itself will be perfectly fine, but a chunk of paint will be missing.

How to Remove LED Strip Lights From The Wall Safely?

I’m sure you can see that there are no hard and fast rules. Your LED strip lights are unlikely to damage if you apply them to a durable surface and rely on the 3M adhesive that they come with. But of course, nobody can be 100% sure.

Follow this easy step-by-step tutorial if you want to remove your LED strips while minimizing the risk of damage.

  1. Unplug your LEDs from their power supply. Unless you know what you’re doing, you should never play with live electricity.
  2. You can use a hairdryer to heat the adhesive layer on the LEDs. This will make it softer and easier to pull off. Remember, LEDs excess heat can speed up lumen degradation. So with that in mind, use the hairdryer for a maximum of two minutes.
  3. Starting at a corner or edge piece, insert a flat, dull object (such as a butter knife or a credit card) under the LED strip.
  4. Wiggle the flat object to gently pry the LED strip from the wall.
  5. At the same time, use your other hand to slowly pull the LED strip off the surface.
  6. Continue until the LED strip is fully released. Remember to take your time.
  7. If there is a leftover tacky adhesive residue on the wall, gently rub your thumb over it in small circles. Most of the time, gentle pressure is enough to collect the residue.
  8. If this doesn’t work, apply a citrus-based hand cleaner or WD-40 to a rag and rub back and forth until the adhesive is gone.

Final Words

It’s true, LED strip lights are a dream come true for renters and people who enjoy frequently changing their interior design choices.

If you’re still unsure, you can always perform a patch test.

Apply 3M adhesive to your home’s inconspicuous area, such as behind a cupboard or in a small nook.

Leave it for a day or two, and then pull it off to see if it causes any damage to your paint or wallpaper.

Have you tried removing LED strip lights in the past? What products did you use? Let me know if you were successful or not in the comments section below.

20 thoughts on “Do LED Light Strips Damage Walls?”

  1. We need to repaint the room where our light strips hang. Can you suggest what to use to put the led light strips back on after we’ve let the new paint cure?

    Reply
  2. I’m planning on moving my LED lights to a different location what can I put them on to prevent the from sticking to everything in the process

    Reply
    • Hi Hailey,

      Thanks for your question. Generally if you peel them off once they wont adhere as well as as they do the first time, so I would recommend you to take the tape off and put a fresh double sided tape once you are ready to install them again. But if you still decide to stick them onto something, a glass or plastic would work well and will allow you to peel the tape again easily without leaving marks.

      Hope this helps.
      Eugen

      Reply
  3. Just FYI: 3M is a company (3M stands for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing) which had developed a lot of products, among them thousands of different tapes, many of them employing an adhesive layer on one or both sides. There are several types of adhesive, and many variations within each type. In common usage, 3M tape often refers to a double-sided sticky tape. By itself, this is very non-specific and doesn’t tell much about the particular grade of tape – how thick it is, how strong is the adhesive bond, compatibility with different materials etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if various Chinese manufacturers are putting “3M” stickers on their tape (not made by 3M) just because to consumers 3M sounds like quality.

    Having said, the article is quite accurate on all practical matters and matches my experience.

    Reply
  4. I’m planning on attaching some Govee led light strips to my drywall. If one day I decide to remove them, will the drywall be damaged?

    Reply
    • Hi Aayush,

      Thanks for reaching out. Without knowing more details about your drywall I wont be able to help I am afraid. It all depends whether you have painted it or used wallpaper. If you painted it what type of paint you used etc.. The easiest thing to do would be to attach a piece of tape on the drywall and try to peel it off after a while, this would give you a good indication.

      Eugen

      Reply
  5. I want to put leds on boack painted metal, but I am afraid of taking off the paint or having sticky residue, can you help me out?

    Reply
    • Hi Ahmed,

      I would be happy to help, however, there is a few unknowns in your situation. Probably the most important one is the type of paint applied on the metal and also how thick it is. As I said in the article try to put a little square on the metal piece and peel it off after to see how easy it will be.

      Eugen

      Reply
  6. Hi, im Alison. ( I’m not a native speaker so idk if Stated everything clear or not…)

    I’m planning to put led strips in my dorm room. But since it’s a dorm room, I can’t damage the wall.
    You suggested that we put a piece of the tape on the wall to see if the paint will come off, if the paint didn’t come off after 3-4 days, is that also an indication that when I take off my led lights it won’t damage the wall after 4 months? Or it is just a guessing?

    Also I don’t know if this will work, if I just stick the led strip ( without exposing the adhesive part) on command strip? My college recommend us to use command strips and the dorm room seems fine with all the command strips so I’m just thinking maybe doing this will work and not damage the wall??

    Could you give me some advice thank you so much

    Reply
    • Hi Alison,

      Thanks for reaching out. If you have put the the adhesive on the wall and were able to peel it off after a few days, most likely you wont cause any damage to those walls. You can take the command strip route if you are still unsure, alternatively, you can cut the adhesive tape to small squares and apply to them with spacing to your strip lights. This will reduce the amount of adhesive used on the wall which also reduces the potential damage cause.

      Eugen

      Reply
  7. Hi,

    Are led strip lights a fire hazard if placed behind bed or close to furniture?

    Is it safe to diffuse led strip lights with parchment paper? (This paper can support high temperature, I am concerned about overheating led)

    I was looking at the 5050 led strip lights, would it be safer to get the ones that are less strong? (I believe these let off more heat)

    How long should I leave them on per day?

    Is it safe to attach led strip to a wood molding?

    If you are unsure of any of these answers, can you direct me to another source to answer them.

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Rachelle,

      Thanks for reaching out. Generally LED strip lights are not considered as the fire hazard, but keep in mind that as any other electronic device they do generate heat and heat management should not be neglected. This said, you can place them behind bed but ensure there is enough space for air circulation that helps to take the heat away.

      As you have probably guessed from my previous paragraph any layer of material you lay on top of strip light will increase its temperature. So diffusing the light with parchment paper will probably increase its temperature slightly due to the worse air circulation again.

      Generally, if not placed into very tight space LED strip lights will not generate a lot of heat to cause any serious hazard. This said 5050 are quite powerful strip lights generating a lot of light per meter and are great for larger areas, so I would definitely review the space you are looking to light up. Of course they will also heat up more than lower power strips.

      In regards to how long you should leave them lights per day I will point you to my another article.

      I would not recommend attaching strip lights to the wood molding, because wood is has very poor heat dissipation so your lights will become hotter.

      I would suggest you to read my other posts and search for questions as I have covered majority of these within my blog.

      Good luck with your project.
      Eugen

      Reply
  8. Hello!

    So, I am planning to buy TJoy LED Light Strips for my bedroom, but I need to convince my mom that they don’t damage my walls, which have paint, but I haven’t found any luck on convincing her that they won’t peal off the paint. I have put packaging tape on my wall with paint but that doesn’t pull off the paint, does that mean that the 3M adhesive on the LED Lights will not peel off the paint?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Taylor,

      It might not necessarily be the case, because there are different strengths of tapes, and say if standard packaging or office tape doesn’t peel the paint then another tape could do it. I would try to use very small piece of strong 3M tape – somewhere behind the bed so the mum cannot see it haha and see if that does anything.

      Good luck convincing your mum.

      Eugen

      Reply
  9. hi! i’m Bonnie. i bought a led lights and i put it on my wall. i’m gonna buy new ones from ebay but when i peel the old led light off, my wall came with it! i dont know what to cover it with. i need some suggestions. and one last question is it ok to put my new ebay led lights on my wall?

    Reply
    • Hi Bonnie,

      Thanks for reaching out, most likely your wall needs a bit of renovating work. You can indeed put new lights on the wall, but they will likely to further damage the wall. I would try to avoid using 3M tape in that case, and maybe try to attach the strip lights to another surface? Alternatively, you can buy string lights and just hang it.

      Eugen

      Reply

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