How to Hang Wallpaper: A Comprehensive Beginner's Guide

floral wallpaper

Wallpaper is a speedy way to add color, pattern, or texture to your room. Unlike faux painting and decorative paint finishes, there is no specialized training required. A detailed, interesting design has already been included in the wallpaper design. Wallpaper is back in vogue and more popular than ever, especially woven grass cloth. After choosing from the hundreds of designs, all that's left is to hang wallpaper up on your walls.

Planning a Wallpaper Project

Picking the correct type of wallpaper is as significant as deciding on the exact style. Look at the package labels for a lot of information, and remember that a lot of factors go into making your choice.

Types of Wallpaper

Paper-backed or solid vinyl and fabric-backed wallcoverings are particularly long-lasting. Use them in children's rooms, kitchens, bathrooms and high-traffic areas. They clean easily, making them ideal for wet or messy areas.

Vinyl-coated wallpaper adds a refined touch to living and dining rooms. Look for papers with texture, sheen and other elements that can help set these rooms apart.

Wallpaper that is removable is a must. Peelable wallpaper is detached swiftly by lifting and tugging a corner. The decorative layer will be peeled off, leaving the underneath layer which will clean off effortlessly with soap and water. Strippable wallpaper will fully remove from a correctly primed wall.

Purchasing the Paper

Remember that wallpaper is priced by single roll, but only sold in double rolls or larger. Plan carefully to avoid shortages or too much extra.

Answer these questions to estimate how much paper you should buy:

  • How many square feet are in a roll?
  • What is the pattern repeat?
  • What's the total square footage of the area to be covered?

Then use a wallpaper calculator to input your data and get an estimate like this Seabrook Wallpaper and Border Calculator.

Preparing a Room for Wallpaper

As with any wall finish, an ideal result comes from properly preparing the wall surface. New walls will have to be cured, allowed to dry, then primed. Walls that have been painted will need cracks or holes filled in, sanding and primer. Walls with existing wallpaper need to be stripped of old paper, patched up, sanded and cleaned. Remove old adhesive, make sure the walls are totally dry, then prime walls.

To prepare the rest of the room for wallpapering, paint ceilings, windows, doors and trim, if needed, using a 1-inch border on walls to circumvent any gaps between the paint and wallpaper.

Since lead may be harmful to your health, do not remove old wallpaper or sand paint without testing the old paint for lead content and following safety precautions (especially if walls were painted prior to 1977).



  • Box Cutter - razor blade holder or snap-off type
  • Brush or roller and paste - use with un-pasted paper
  • Buckets
  • Clean rags
  • Drop cloth
  • Plumb line or 4-foot level
  • Putty or spackle knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Scissors
  • Screwdriver
  • Seam roller - flat and corner styles
  • Spackle or patching compound
  • Sponges
  • Stepladder
  • Straightedge
  • Trim guide - broad knife or triangular version
  • Wall Primer
  • Wallpaper Smoother - brush or plastic
  • Water tray or paste activator - use with pre-pasted paper
  • Work table
  • Yardstick or metal tape measure

Wallpaper Hanging Tips

Getting started:

  1. Choose a not easily seen spot as a starting point, like the edge of a door frame. Since the first and last strips of wallpaper won't match perfectly, this hidden spot is where they will meet.
  2. Calculate the width of the wallpaper minus 1/2 inch. Attach a chalked plumb line to the wall close to the ceiling. When the plumb weight stops swinging, hold it against the baseboard and snap the line to make a chalk mark along the wall. You can also use a 4-foot level to make this guideline.
  3. Create a new plumb line prior to starting each fresh wall.
  4. Place a drop cloth on the ground to protect flooring from water and paste.
  5. Add about 6 inches to the wall's height measurement of wall and cut the first strip of paper at this length.
  6. Unroll a second strip, laying it beside the first strip. Match the pattern all the way across the two strips. Random patterns won't need to be matched, but allow extra length on repeat patterns to make sure the strips match.
  7. Roll up the cut strips slackly with the pattern inside.
  8. Cut one or two strips at a time, or just cut each piece as needed.

How To Hang Wallpaper

  1. Fill tray with lukewarm water and set on the floor at the end of a work table.
  2. Totally submerge the rolled-up strip (pattern side in), then gradually pull it out, unrolling as you pull up, and lay it on the table with the pattern side down.
  3. Look for any dry spots on the pasted side and use a damp sponge and fingers to add water lightly.
  4. Fold the top of the strip towards the middle of the strip and the bottom back towards the middle, being cautious not to crease. Let the wallpaper cure in this folded position for about ten minutes.

An option to the water tray technique is an adhesive activator for pre-pasted wallpaper that's applied similar to paste and does not need soaking in water.

To hang the first strip of wallpaper:

  1. Carry the initial strip over to the wall and step onto the ladder.
  2. Take hold of the top edge and let the folded part of the strip drop open.
  3. Position the strip next to the door frame, overlapping the ceiling about two to three inches.
  4. Trim the edge of the paper next to the door frame with a sharp blade.
  5. Use a brush or smoothing tool to remove air bubbles by starting at the top, working down and out to the edges.
  6. Step off the stepladder, opening the lower folded part of the strip.
  7. Line up paper with the plumb line and smooth from the top to baseboard and to the edges.
  8. If there are wrinkles, pull strip away from wall and realign it. Don't over-smooth the paper as many small air bubbles will evaporate as the wallpaper dries.
  9. With the strip in place, trim the surplus at the ceiling and the baseboard using a sharp knife. Change blades often to maintain a clean edge.
  10. Wash off any extra adhesive with a wet sponge.
  11. To hang more strips, use the first strip as a reference point for lining up the pattern and also butt the seams jointly together.
  12. Use a seam roller over all seams about 10 to 15 minutes after hanging each strip.

Take the Time to Do it Right

Properly hung wallpaper can transform a room, giving it texture, color and pattern at once. Take the time to prepare your walls properly and hang the new paper carefully. Practice on a few scrap sheets in a closet first to get the hang of it before moving on to an entire room. When you're finished, your newly remade room should be vibrant with life.

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How to Hang Wallpaper: A Comprehensive Beginner's Guide