Level of Difficulty: Beginner Do-It-Yourselfer - Easy
Completion Time: 5 Hours

On one wall or four, on the ceiling or walls, or even for decorating a headboard, wallpaper is a real décor unifier, completing the decoration of a room. Though wallpaper hanging is easy enough for everyone to do, it does require time and attention to detail.

This article deals with hanging pre-pasted wallpaper, the easier application. Unpasted wallpaper requires a special technique, since it involves applying adhesive. The following steps outline wallpaper hanging to cover the walls and ceiling of a room where mouldings are installed.

TOOLS

  • Rectangular water tray
  • Broom
  • Brush (to moisten the wallpaper)
  • Brush (to smooth wallpaper)
  • Scissors

  • Utility knife (X-acto type)
  • Stepladder
  • Plumb line and Chalk line
  • Scraper

  • Seam roller (to flatten the seams between two drops)
  • Glue
  • Ruler
  • Bucket, sponge and rag

MATERIALS

  • Wallpaper
  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP)
BEFORE ASSEMBLY

CHOOSE YOUR WALLPAPER

You need to choose wallpaper that will suit the room where it will be hung, paying close attention to the condition of the walls themselves. Vinyl wallpaper, for example, is perfect for the bathroom, whereas embossed paper could be used on irregular walls.

When you go to buy your wallpaper, make sure that each roll has the same lot number. Although colour may vary slightly from one series to another, this way you’ll be sure of having wallpaper from the same production run, and you’ll be able to order further rolls if necessary.

ESTABLISH THE NUMBER OF ROLLS YOU NEED

Wallpaper is usually sold in rolls 10m L X .53m W.

Calculate the total surface area to be covered in square feet and add a surplus of between 15% and 20%, allowing for cutting remnants and waste. It is usually better to buy more wallpaper rolls than your calculations indicate in order to be sure of having rolls from the same lot.

You can also use our wallpaper calculator.

STEPS

Any previous wallpaper must be removed with either a steam stripper or wallpaper remover and scraper.

1.1. Cover woodwork, trim and floors and remove all unglued or peeling wallpaper.

1.2. Apply a thick coat of stripper on the surface with a roller or wallpaper brush.

1.3. Allow to penetrate for 20 to 30 minutes. If it dries out, apply another coat.

1.4. Use a putty knife to remove the softened wallpaper.

1.5. Dissolve any remaining glue on the surface by moistening again with stripper.

1.6. Clean the wall with a pad or wallpaper sponge.

1.7. Rinse the wall with a sponge and clean water. Leave to dry completely.

1.8. Clean the wall surface before wallpapering with a degreasing cleanser (without rinsing) such as Trisodium phosphate (TSP).

1.9. Repair any cracks or holes in the wall.

1.10. Apply a coat of primer on the wall as a sealer and also to improve wallpaper adherence. Leave to dry.

Start hanging the wallpaper to the left or right of a window (as numbered in the illustration). By starting at the window you reduce the risk that the shadow caused by added thickness will be visible in daylight. Otherwise, use a plumb line or chalk line to draw a vertical line on the wall to use as a starting point.

2.1. Measure the width of your wallpaper.

2.2. Working from left to right, measure the same width as your paper width, subtract a half-inch (because walls are not always straight; by subtracting a half-inch at the beginning it will be possible for the paper to overlap slightly on the left) and make a mark with a pencil.

2.3. Place a ruler on the mark and draw a line from top to bottom.
This will be your reference point for hanging the first sheet of wallpaper.

2.4. Using your ruler, draw lines on the wall at distances equivalent to the width of your wallpaper.

ESTABLISH YOUR STARTING POINT

For wallpaper without pattern repeats, cut the other drops in advance, measuring their length against the first drop. For wallpaper with pattern repeats, cut the drops as you advance; this will help you avoid errors. (Add the height of the repeat to each drop and indicate in which direction it should be hung.)

3.1. Measure the height of the wall (excluding upper and lower mouldings).

3.2. Take the roll of wallpaper, measure the necessary length in height and add a few inches before cutting.

3.3. Cut the first drop to the necessary length. Leave roughly 2” to flop against the ceiling and another 2” below the top of the baseboard.

3.4. Roll up the paper, the pattern to the inside, and let it soak in the water tray. Follow the directions for soaking time recommended by the manufacturer, generally one minute.

3.5. Unroll, checking that the paper is uniformly wet, lay it on the floor and fold in a few sections, pasted side to pasted side.

3.6. Leave the wallpaper this way for five minutes so the adhesive is activated.

PREPARE THE FIRST DROP
4.1. Start at the ceiling, allowing approximately 2" to overlap, aligning the paper with the plumb line you drew on the wall (leaving the other half of the drop folded). The other drops will be aligned according to the preceding drop and the pattern.

4.2. Use your hands to flatten the paper against the wall, then starting in the middle and working out to the sides, use a sponge or smoothing brush to push out the air bubbles.

4.3. Unfold the other half of the drop, holding the upper part so it doesn’t slide.

4.4. Smooth out the lower half.

4.5. Trim the excess paper once it is in place, but before the adhesive has dried.

PLACE THE FIRST DROP

PLACE THE FIRST DROP

5.1. Take your roll of wallpaper and, if there are pattern motifs, juxtapose them to continue the pattern.

5.2. Measure the second drop, leaving an extra 2" on both ends.

5.3. Prepare the installation as you did for the first drop.

5.4. You want a close fit with the first drop, only slightly overlapping.

5.5. Trim the excess when the paper is in place, but before the adhesive has dried.

5.6. Continue with the other drops.

SMOOTH WALLPAPER

6.1. Trim the excess paper before the adhesive dries, using a knife with a retractable blade (X-acto type knife).

6.2. For precise results, use a scraper to push against the baseboard, ceiling or corner and to guide your knife as you make a cut perpendicular to the seamed edge of the paper.

TRIM THE WALLPAPER
7.1. Use a seam roller to gently smooth out the pattern repeats between drops. If you’re hanging embossed paper, use a clean cloth so you don’t damage the paper.

7.2. Carefully lift the paper so it doesn’t tear and use a fine paintbrush to slide some glue underneath.

7.3. Use only a very small amount of glue; with too much, you risk staining the paper.

7.4. Smooth the seam with a seam roller or a clean cloth, inserting a sheet of absorbent paper or blotting paper.

FINISH THE SEAMS
Two people are needed as well as two stepladders to wallpaper the ceiling. For unpasted wallpaper, choose a strong adhesive to prevent unsticking. To apply classic wallpaper, choose adhesive for heavy papers since it adheres better.

8.1. Cut and prepare the installation as you did for the previous drops.

8.2. Fold the drop accordion style and position the top part on the wall while the other person holds the rest.

8.3. Start in a corner and check that the first drop is perfectly straight.

8.4. Holding the first drop with a broom, start with a corner and align the drop with it, and glue.

8.5. Smooth out the paper as you apply it.

8.6. Repeat the same steps with the other drops.

WALLPAPER THE CEILING

9.1. Remove all dust on the radiator and wall behind.

9.2. Measure, cut and glue the drop and slide it behind the radiator.

9.3. Cut out the areas of the paper where the supply pipe and the feet of the radiator will pass.

9.4. Insert a PVC pipe or cover a broomstick with a cloth.

9.5. Slide the pipe or the broomstick behind the radiator to fix the paper to the wall.

9.6. Wipe away glue residue with a clean cloth.

10.1. Turn off the power supply before you take off decorative covers in order to cut your wallpaper.

10.2. Remove the decorative switch and outlet plates.

10.3. Make a cut in the shape of a cross in the wallpaper and fold the four sections of the cross inwards.

10.4. Replace the decorative plates.

WALLPAPER AROUND AN ELECTRICAL OUTLET OR LIGHT SWITCH

11.1. Cutting the inside corner

11.2. Hang drops on all perpendicular walls and smooth each drop with a smoothing brush.

11.3. Use an X-acto knife to cut the two drops from the two walls in the corner. Make sure the paper adheres well in the corner.

11.4. Verify that any pattern motifs line up.

11.5. Lightly sand the wallpaper with sandpaper.

12.1. Hang the wallpaper in a horizontal drop folding it over the corner.

12.2. Align the top edge of the wallpaper with the ceiling or with drop applied above.

12.3. Smooth down the drop with a smoothing brush to ensure the wallpaper is adhering well on both sides.

12.4. Run your fingers over the corner.

12.5. Continue to the bottom of the wall.

12.6. Proceed to hang your wallpaper to the end of the wall.

13.1. Cover one of the two walls with horizontal drops, leaving a return of approximately 2” on the other wall.

13.2. Hang a vertical drop on the second wall, covering the horizontal drop returns. Use a plumb line.

13.3. Place a ruler on the wall covered with the vertical drop ½’’ from the corner, and cut the drop down to the bottom of the wall.

13.4. Lightly unglue the vertical drop and loosen the thicknesses of cut wallpaper.

13.5. Smooth down the vertical drop for a perfectly flat seam.

13.6. Use the seam roller to flatten the surface.

13.7. Use a damp sponge to wipe away any glue residue.

CUTTING THE OUTSIDE CORNER

14.1. Draw a horizontal line at the desired height (using a level and a chalk line).

14.2. Apply the strip of wallpaper, aligning it to the line you drew.

15.1. Trim the paper overlapping the windows before the adhesive dries.

15.2. If the window is completely covered with wallpaper, cut 45º slits with scissors from the centre towards the window frame.

15.3. With the back of the scissors, mark the edges of the corners around the frame.

15.4. Use these reference points to trim excess paper.

TRIM AROUND THE WINDOWS
16.1. Gently lift the paper without tearing or buckling.

16.2. Use a fine paint brush to slide a small amount of adhesive under the paper.

16.3. Smooth out the seam with a seam roller, inserting a sheet of blotting paper.

RESEAL A SEAM

17.1. Pierce the centre of the blister with a needle and carefully smooth out the paper fom the edges of the blister towards its middle.

17.2. Iron over the blister with an iron set at minimum temperature and inserting blotting paper between the iron and the wallpaper, so the wallpaper is not damaged.

17.3. For larger blisters, cut a cross in the blister with an X–acto knife.

17.4. Carefully apply pressure to the blister with a clean cloth to get rid of any excess adhesive.

17.5. Smooth out the paper from the edges of the blister towards the centre.