How to Hang Wallpaper Like a Pro

Wallpaper can transform a room and make a huge difference in its feel and appearance. Today, wallpapers come in a huge range of exciting patterns and colors – making it easier than ever to complement your home furnishings. Hanging wallpaper is relatively easy to learn but does require attention to detail, especially when hanging patterned wallpaper, which requires matching the seams.

Before beginning, you will need to assemble some tools for the job: Wallpaper, a flat work surface, tape measure and level, utility knife, ladder, drop cloth, sandpaper, spackle and putty knife, and a smoothing brush.

If your wallpaper will be hung on new drywall, make sure to prime the wall first with wallpaper primer to help the paper adhere to the wall. For old walls, first wash dirt or dust off with warm, soapy water, followed by sanding over any chipped paint. Old wallpaper can be removed by using wallpaper remover and a putty knife.

Fill any existing holes and cracks in the walls with putty. If left uncovered, these holes and cracks will show through the paper once it’s hung and can even lead to tears in the wallpaper. Allow the spackle to dry and then sand lightly until the surface is smooth.

Choose a starting place in the room where your first strip of wallpaper will match up with the last strip of wallpaper you hang. Specifically, choose a corner in a room behind a door or near where your curtains will hang so that any mismatch will be less obvious. You want the focal point of your room to have the fewest seams. Use a level to measure out from your starting point and draw a vertical straight edge on the wall. This line marks where your first strip of wallpaper will be placed.

Then, lay the wallpaper print side down, on your working surface. First measure and then cut the strip to the proper length. You may add a couple of inches at the top and bottom of the paper, which will be timed off later to ensure you have measured enough paper. Measure and cut several strips of paper at one time, making sure to match the pattern.

Most wallpaper is pre-pasted. To activate the adhesive on the paper, immerse one strip right side out in room-temperature water in a water tray or bathtub. Beginning at your starting point, line your paper up at the ceiling, carefully unfolding the top half of the paper and placing the side edge of the strip along the measured line. Allow a few extra inches of paper along the top and bottom which will be trimmed off later.

When you have aligned the half top of the paper to its vertical measure line, open the bottom half carefully and gently smooth the wallpaper against the wall with your hands. Begin at one edge and work your way across, using a smoothing brush or damp sponge to smooth out any air bubbles. A seam roller may also be used to smooth down the edges of the wallpaper.

When tackling the corners of the room, measure from the last full-width strip of wallpaper to the corner. Add an inch to that measurement and cut the strip to that width. Apply the wallpaper to the wall, making sure to totally smooth it in the corners. Then make a small slit from the top of the strip to the wall to allow the strip to lay flat at the ceiling. Repeat the same at the bottom and then trim off the top and bottom.

A wide-blade putty knife can be used to hold down the wallpaper strip at the ceiling. A quality utility knife can then be used to trim the excess wallpaper at the top and bottom.