How to build a sticky wall

In this blog post we will introduce you to a tool that is seriously cool and very useful if you’re working as an enabler of change – the sticky wall! 

These are amazing! The sticky wall means you can use A4 and A5 sized pages, without the need to use the expensive Post-it notes. Of course you still ask people to keep their ideas short and use markers so they’re easy to read at a distance. But It also means it is easy to stack the sheets of paper together afterwards if you need to type them all up.  

Sticky walls are easy to make. Firstly you need a plastic tablecloth. Many shops have a party section and that’s often where you’ll find them, for only a couple dollars each. You can choose an interesting colour – pink anyone? – or just use black or white. Denise says – don’t get a patterned one though!

Next you need a can of repositional adhesive spray that you can buy at office supply or craft stores for anywhere between $15 and $50. This is essentially the same glue on Post-it notes. We’ve also heard people use hairspray with good success. 

It’s best to prepare your sticky wall beforehand by spraying it in a well ventilated space. Just hang your tablecloth onto the wall and spray it with repositionable adhesive! Give it a few minutes to dry before folding up.

Blu-tack will hold up the sticky wall but we have seen painters masking tape being used to put up the sticky wall, as it doesn’t peel the paint off. Pretty easy!

Sticky walls are very versatile. For example you can use multiple sticky walls during your workshop and not be limited to perhaps one whiteboard where you’d typically place your Post-it notes. You can reuse your sticky wall four to five times, as long as you fold it up carefully. It’s light and easy to take with you in your workshop kit. You can use coloured paper of different sizes – and it’s heaps cheaper than buying lots of Post-it notes! 

Denise says she has had one sticky wall disaster when she had prepped well before a workshop but had used just adhesive spray so when she unfolded it the sticky wall wasn’t sticky!! But generally they are a very reliable tool for your toolbox.

So you’ve read our thoughts, now we’d like to hear yours! Add a comment below this episode and tell us your experiences with sticky walls, including any tips and further ideas – and any disasters and how you coped! We don’t want this to just be a one-way conversation – join in by sharing your thoughts with us! 

Thanks for reading this Enablers of change blog post. Remember to subscribe if you’d like to know when new episodes are available.

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John JamesDavid JagoToni WhiteGraham HArrisRoy Murray-Prior Recent comment authors
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Jane Graham
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Jane Graham

Thanks for the tip! I am thinking about how to make a sticky wall work for virtual teams. Maybe Planner in O365 is one option.

Roy Murray-Prior
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Good one John & Denise. Mostly works well.

Graham HArris
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Graham HArris

Nice practical tip – I to have seen the sticky wall used in APEN meetings by Jeanette Long and it certainly does work very well.

David Jago
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David Jago

Great post as usual folks. The best glue I’ve found is 3M #75 ‘Repositionable Spray Adhesive’. Do not, under any circumstances, use #77 ‘Multipurpose Spray Adhesive’. It’s permanent, very permanent! If you fold your sticky wall, it will stay folded forever. Speaking from experience here… My sticky wall is made from ripstop nylon. The same as used for tents. I got mine from Spotlight by the meter, and had it hemmed. It will last a long time. My wall is bright red. If really focusses participants’ attention – from the moment they walk into the room. Denise is spot on.… Read more »

Toni White
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Toni White

Great post John and Denise!! I use sticky walls all the time in my facilitation. They provide a great alternative to postits and allow you to have some diversity in how you work with a workshop. I run a few workshops where I had 4-5 sticky walls running consecutively in a type of ‘café style’ approach – each sticky wall was a different color and tackled a different aspect of the topic of the day. This worked great. One problem I have had with pre-spraying with thin plastic sheets is that they still can rip as you unfold them –… Read more »

David Jago
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David Jago

G’day Toni!
Yes, the thin plastic does rip easily – especially if you have re-sprayed the surface. I have found that reinforcing the corners with extra tape helps a bit. And yes, masking tape is the go.
Great approach to have multiple walls of different colours. It makes instructions much easier and clearer.