How To Hang Wallpaper

Wallpaper is an ancient method of decorating walls in a home. It has existed since the 1500’s in one form or another. Today, wallpaper is primarily a pre-pasted, paper-backed vinyl product. You can also buy different wallpapers that are truly paper products as well as some that are exotic like grasses, cloth, textures of many types, and silk. Using a variety of patterns or solid colors, you can use wallpapers to stimulate many emotions from a calming intimacy to a vivid excitement and to create many different atmospheres; everything from a friendly, breezy openness to a close, warm, cozy night by a fire.

Applying wallpaper is not difficult but, like many home improvement projects, it requires patience and attention to detail.


Applying wallpaper is easy and fun. Use patience and attention to detail.

Applying wallpaper is easy and fun. Use patience and attention to detail.


  1. Making sure that the substrate is properly prepared is one key to success in wallpaper application
  2. Verify that your walls are clean, dry, free from mold, mildew, stains, dirt, and dust.
  3. Make certain, as well, that there are no cracks in the plaster or sheetrock. If there are, make any needed repairs before attempting to apply wallpaper.
  4. Double check that the primer or paint on the walls is in good shape, not peeling or chalky.

Wall layout

  1. On your focal wall, determine the midpoint of the wall from ceiling to floor and mark it on the wall.
  2. Using a short piece of wallpaper, align the center of the design element with your mark. Now mark the leading edge of the wallpaper on the wall.
  3. With a four foot level, mark out the approximate edges of all the wallpaper strips around the room.

Wallpaper installation

  1. Cut your first strip allowing 1″ overhang at top and bottom if it is a solid color. For a pattern, you would cut a long enough strip to allow for pattern alignment and trim at top and bottom.
  2. Soak it in a tub of water until it is wet but not soaked.
  3. Fold the paper carefully in half, placing the adhesive sides together and aligning all the edges so no adhesive shows. Leave it this way for about five minutes.
  4. Apply the first strip to the plumb line on the wall. Start at the top of the wall and work down.
  5. Smooth out the edges with a sponge, then brush lightly from the center outward.
  6. Now, pull a smoother across and down the wallpaper gently to complete the adhesion and remove wrinkles.
  7. Overlap the wallpaper at the corners.
  8. For an inside corner, the wallpaper joint should fall right in the corner after the overlap is completed.
  9. For an outside corner, the wallpaper should wrap around the corner and overlap on one adjacent wall or the other.
  10. Trim the wallpaper at the ceiling and at the top of the base molding with a razor knife. Use a straight edge as a cutting guide.
  11. Apply the wallpaper headers and footers over doorways and windows and underneath them before you reach that area with the main strips. Then cut and fit the wallpaper to those headers and footers to eliminate unsightly seams.


Where walls, doors, windows, etc, are not plumb or level, plan on overlapping the wallpaper at those points.

If you are installing a patterned wallpaper, cut the strips long enough so you can align the patterns of the overlapping strips and still have enough to trim on each end.

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