Hanging wallpaper – a brief tutorial

Hanging wallpaper – a brief tutorial

We are more than happy to help you with your questions or problems. We want you to have a successful wallpapering experience! Please contact us at 509-201-1775 with any questions! 

Prepasted and unpasted wallpapers

Please don’t be afraid of unpasted wallpapers!  In my opinion they are actually easier to install.  Good instructions come with all of our products, but if you need help just contact us. Please see information below for more details.

Wall preparation

Don’t skimp on wall prep!  Proper preparation will ensure the best results from your wallcovering.  A properly prepared surface will ensure easy and successful application of your wallpaper.  It will also help with future removal.  There are many primers on the market but we have found that the wallpaper primer Shieldz made by Zinsser is exceptional.  Zinsser also makes other primers for specialty uses.  It is available at most home improvement and paint stores.  This is the wallpaper primer used by D. Marie Interiors for the “test” wall in their warehouse.

New drywall must be sealed with a primer as detailed above before you install your wallpaper. This will protect the drywall, ensure even adhesion of the wallpaper, and help with easy removal when the wallpaper is replaced.  It may be a good idea to tint your base primer to the background color of your wallpaper as this will prevent any color variations on the drywall (tape, spackled nails) from showing through the wallpaper.

Painted walls especially in bathrooms and kitchens, should be cleaned with ammonia and water to remove oils, stains, etc.  Repair any defects in the wall.  Once the walls are clean and smooth, apply wallpaper primer; tint as mentioned above if desired. 

Existing wallpaper must be removed before application of your new wallpaper.  If you need instructions on this part of the process, feel free to contact us.  Once the wallpaper is removed, repair any defects and prime with a wallpaper primer.

If you have special circumstances, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will be glad to help.

Hanging wallpaper

Make sure you have a clean table or floor area to lay your wallpaper on for measuring and cutting.

To determine seam placement for your first strip, choose the most inconspicuous corner for your first strip as it is likely that the finishing strip will not match the pattern. You can also choose to start in the middle of the room and work both sides outwards so you end at the area that is most inconspicuous.  (If doing only a focal wall or not wallpapering around the entire room, you don’t need to worry about the paper wrapping around the room and not matching at the final corner.)

Create a vertical plumb line for your first strip. Corners are generally not straight and you need to start with a truly vertical line.  Measure from the corner out the width of your wallpaper minus ½ inch.  (If your wallpaper is 20 ½ inches wide, make your mark at 20 inches). Using a level or a plumb bob, mark a vertical line at this spot with a pencil.  You will need to repeat this procedure at new walls or when you reach a corner.

Select the dominant pattern of the paper and position where you consider it most desirable. This will determine the horizontal pattern placement for the rest of the room.

Measure and cut your first strip, allowing a few extra inches for trimming at the top and bottom.

For prepasted wallpaper, roll your first strip and submerge completely in lukewarm water. A wallpaper water tray is ideal but a bathtub will also work.  Follow the manufacturer’s directions on length of time to wet the paper - don’t leave the paper in the water tray too long or it will wash away the paste. Carefully fold the paper onto itself, paste side to paste side. (Make sure you don’t crease the wallpaper.) Remove your folded paper from the tray or tub and let the paper relax for as long as the manufacturer recommends.  This is called “booking” and it allows the wallpaper paste to active before placing it on the wall. After booking, unfold the paper, making sure that there are no dry areas on the pasted side, especially on the seams. You can apply paste to these areas with a brush if needed.

For unpasted papers, lay your wallpaper strip pattern side down on your clean table. Apply the paste product that is recommended for the type of paper you have purchased using a paste brush or roller. Apply evenly and pay special attention to the edges. After the paper is pasted, “book” it, paste to paste, to allow the paper to relax and the paste to activate. Booking time will depend on the manufacturer's instructions.

Unfold the top and apply the first strip between the corner and your vertical plumb line, allowing excess at the ceiling and at the bottom or baseboard.

Using proper tools such as a wallpaper smoother or wallpaper brush, gently press the top portion of the paper to the wall but do not stretch the paper.  Then unfold the bottom part of the strip and place onto the wall in the same manner.

Use a diagonal motion (top down and center outward) to gently smooth the strip and work out bubbles. Never force a strip to match, gently remove and realign it, beginning at the seam edge.

Use a sharp “snap blade” tool and a broad knife for cutting the excess at the ceiling and baseboard.

Wash off excess paste with a clean wet sponge.  Clean paste off of ceiling, corner and baseboards with sponge and water.

Repeat for additional strips, making sure to match the pattern.  Strips should touch at the edges and not be overlapped.

Be sure to make a new straight plumb line on each wall.  To go around a corner, smooth the paper into the corner and cut it about ¼ inch past the corner.  Make a new plumb line to fit this partial strip and apply the partial strip back to the corner, again matching the pattern. Do not just “tuck” a strip into a corner – you will not be starting with a true vertical line on the next wall if you do this!

Outside corners should always be wrapped, unless they are too out of plumb and the wallpaper continuing onto the next wall will be out of plumb or wrinkled.

If the paper is left to soak too long or was overworked or stretched it can cause the paper to shrink and the seams to gap.  Be careful not to oversoak or overwork your wallpaper strips.