Wallpaper can make a tremendous difference in the appearance of any room and if you learn to hang wallpaper the right way, you'll be ready to transform your home. It is relatively easy to learn how to hang wallpaper but it takes patience and attention to detail, especially if you are hanging patterned wallpaper, which requires matching at the seams.
Gather your materials and read through these instructions and the manufacturer’s guidelines before starting.
Time Required: Varies, but plan on several days for a whole room
What You Need
- Wallpaper and Paste
- Large Flat Work Surface
- Tape Measure and Level
- Drop Cloth
- Sandpaper, Spackle, Putty Knife
- Bucket, Water, Water Tray, Sponges, Rags
- Utility Knife or Straight Edge Razor
- Smoothing Brush
- Seam Roller
1. Prepare the walls
If you're hanging wallpaper on new drywall, prime the wall first with wallpaper primer to seal the drywall and help the paper adhere to the wall.
Wash any dirt or dust from the old walls and sand smooth any chipped paint. Remove old wallpaper using wallpaper remover, a wide blade, and rags.
Remove electrical outlet and light switch covers.
Use a putty knife to apply spackle over holes or cracks. Allow the spackle to dry, then sand lightly until the surface is smooth.
2. Pick a starting point
The first strip of wallpaper will line up with the last strip of wallpaper you hang and the pattern should match up at that place.
You will want to start and finish wallpapering in a corner, near the curtains or behind a door so that the mismatch is less obvious. The focal point of the room should have the fewest seams.
Measure out from your starting point and use a level to lightly draw a vertical straight edge on the wall. This line marks where the first strip of wallpaper should be placed.
3. Cut the wallpaper
Lay the first roll of paper, print side down, on the flat work surface. Confirm the top and bottom of the pattern. Measure, then cut the first wallpaper strip to the proper length, adding a few extra inches at the top and bottom. (This will be trimmed off later). Measure and cut the next several strips in order, paying attention to pattern match.
There are four pattern types -- random match, drop match, straight across match and free match. Read more about wallpaper pattern matching.
4. Activate the adhesive on the pre-pasted paper
If the wallpaper is pre-pasted, loosely roll up the first cut strip of paper right side out and immerse it in room-temperature water in the water tray or bathtub. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for immersion time. Pull the strip out of the water, allowing the wallpaper to unroll slowly.
5. Apply wallpaper paste
For un-pasted wallpaper, apply pre-mixed paste using a large pasting brush or paint roller, working from the middle to the ends. Be sure that all areas are covered with paste with no un-pasted spots. Gently fold the top of the sheet down to the middle so that the pasted sides touch. Next, fold the bottom edge up to the middle.
This allows the paste to cure and keep it from drying out. Do not crease the wallpaper.
6. Hang the wallpaper
Starting at the ceiling, carefully unfold the top half of first piece of the wallpaper and gently place the side edge of the strip along the measured line. Don’t forget to leave a few extra inches of paper at the top and bottom for trimming later.
When the strip is in the right position, drop down the bottom half and gently smooth the paper against the wall with your hands, beginning at one edge and working your way across. Use a smoothing brush or damp sponge to smooth out any air bubbles. Use a seam roller to gently smooth down the edges of the wallpaper.
7. Trim the excess paper
Use a wide-blade putty knife to hold down the top of the wallpaper strip at the ceiling. Use the utility knife or straight-edge razor to trim the excess wallpaper.
Repeat at the bottom of the strip. Carefully clean any paste from the ceiling and baseboard.
Wipe the strip of wallpaper with a clean, damp sponge to remove any paste and remaining air bubbles.
8. Smooth the corners
At the corners, measure from the last full-width strip of wallpaper to the corner. Add 1 inch to that measurement and cut the next strip of wallpaper to that width. Activate or apply paste to the strip.
Apply the wallpaper on the wall, making sure to smooth it totally into the corner for interior corners or around the corner for exterior corners.
At the corner, make a small slit from the top of the strip to the wall to allow the strip to lay flat at the ceiling. Repeat on the bottom to allow the strip to lay flat at the floor. Trim off the top and bottom and clean the strip.
9. Hang around the corner
Place the next strip of wallpaper on the wall so that it overlaps the extra 1 inch of paper from the previous piece.
10. Repeat hanging the strips around the room
Continue hanging the next strips of wallpaper, taking care to match the pattern, trimming at the ceiling and floor, removing any creases or air bubbles, securing the seams, and cleaning the paste off the paper.
11. Replace light switch and plug plates
If desired, cover the switch and plug plates with wallpaper, taking care to match the wallpaper pattern.
- Don't be in a hurry. Work slowly to avoid making mistakes.
- Have a large area to work in and don't crowd yourself.
- Cover every area of the back of the wallpaper with paste. Any area left dry, even a small space, will bubble and not adhere to the wall.
- Smooth paper surfaces gently. Don't put any pressure on the face of the wallpaper.
- Carefully clean off the surface of the wallpaper before the paste dries.