Wallpaper that wows
April 28, 2021
You might not have considered wallpaper for your home, but have you seen wallpaper lately? The designs are bright, bold, and so much fun. Wallpaper can dramatically transform a room, whether it’s hung traditionally on all four walls, as an accent wall or even on the ceiling. Yep, the ceiling.
You can master wallpaper hanging with the right tools, patience, and some practice. We collaborated with blogger Mireille Beckwith, whose Instagram account, @city.peach, and blog, city-peach.com, cover fashion, family, and home, for this how-to and accompanying video. Mireille says she is more than a little obsessed with wallpaper in her home, and she’s eager to help you discover all its possibilities, too.
STEP 1: HOW MUCH WALLPAPER?
- Determine square footage: Multiply the width of the wall (or walls) by the height.
- The wallpaper roll should note the square footage it covers and the size of the pattern repeat. Larger pattern repeats require more paper.
- Buy at least 10 percent more paper to accommodate adjustments and even more for larger patterns.
STEP 2: THE TOOLS
- Measuring tape
- Lightweight vinyl adhesive (we recommend Roman 880 Clear Adhesive for our wallpapers)
- 9-inch paint roller
- Paint tray
- Plastic to cover pasting table
- Sponge or damp cloth
- Wallpaper brush or smoother
- Seam roller
- Bucket of water
- Utility knife with fresh blades
- Wide metal putty knife with handle
STEP 3: PREPARE THE WALLS
- Remove switch plates and outlet covers.
- Remove old wallpaper.
- Repair holes or dents with spackling; sand when dry.
- Clean walls with mild soap and water.
- Prime drywall with wallpaper primer. Use wallpaper sizing for plaster.
STEP 4: HANG THE WALLPAPER
- Start in an inconspicuous corner, usually behind a door.
- Take the time to get the first strip straight as every other strip is based on how it hangs. Using a level, draw a line with a straightedge, floor to ceiling, the width of the wallpaper.
- Add four inches to room height and cut first strip of wallpaper.
- Roll adhesive on back of strip to the middle. Loosely fold ends, glue on glue, to the middle. This step is known in wallpaper-ese as “booking.” Repeat with other half of paper. Wait three to five minutes for adhesive to activate.
- Hang first strip with two extra inches at top, lining up edge with level line.
- Gently smooth paper with hands, moving sideways and downward. At middle, unfold paper and affix bottom half.
- Smooth with wallpaper brush. Wipe with damp sponge to remove any excess adhesive.
- Hang second piece as above, making sure to allow for pattern match before the strip is cut. Seams should be butted, not overlapped.
- Repeat steps around the room.
- Trim excess paper at floor and ceiling but let the paper dry a little first because it can tear if too wet. Place wide putty blade against wallpaper and cut excess with sharp utility knife.
STEP 5: THE TRICKY STUFF
- Before papering around outlets and switch plates, turn electrical power off. Lay paper over electrical opening and make an X-cut in center. Trim excess paper from the four flaps to edge of electrical box.
- For doors and windows, lay paper over and make diagonal cut to frame. Smooth paper and trim excess.
- For corners, cut strip so only ½ inch extends beyond corner. Glue and hang strip, then trim it again, leaving just ⅛ inch of paper beyond the corner. Align next strip to overlap the ⅛-inch extension.
More tips from Mireille
Mireille has wallpapered several rooms in her Atlanta-area home. She loves how wallpaper transforms a room while also bringing out features that might have been overlooked before. She shares these tips from her wallpapering experiences:
- Be sure enough adhesive is applied to the back of the paper. I like to use a wider brush to apply adhesive so that the application is smooth.
- Once the paper is on the walls, I do the first smoothing with my hands. It’s easier to detect bubbles and wrinkles.
- Don’t get the wallpaper too damp when you sponge it. It’s a quick, light wiping.
- Always match seams. It’s the slowest part of the process, but essential.
- When you use the smoother, strike a balance between smoothing the paper and keeping enough adhesive on the back so it stays stuck to the walls.
- When you come to an outlet, feel around it and cut to where the paper is flat. Keep in mind that damp wallpaper can tear, so keep your cuts conservative.
- Hang in there and have fun! The process gets faster as you go. You’ll get a feel for the wallpaper and how to work with it, especially if there are patterns to match.