If I Can Wallpaper – You Can Wallpaper!

1wallpapering1I’m not a wallpapering expert, but I have wallpapered many rooms and to my knowledge, none of it ever fell off!! 

So, I’m going to show you how I have been wallpapering for years, using the techniques I learned from my Grandmother oh so many years ago. The most important thing she taught me about wallpapering was not to be afraid!  Remember, you are smarter than the paper!!!

Materials List:

  • Prepasted wallpaper of your choice
  • Wall sizing
  • Painting supplies for wall sizing
  • Ladder
  • Measuring Tape
  • Long level
  • Straight edge
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Large work table
  • Wallpaper Activator
  • Roller and cover for activator
  • Roller tray
  • Smoothing brush
  • Sponge
  • Bucket of water
  • 6” Putty Knife
  • Utility Knife and blades
  • Drop Cloth
  • Seam roller

1. Prepare the room by moving the furniture away from the walls, removing outlet covers and switch plates, laying down drop cloths, and sizing the walls you wish to wallpaper. This goes on like paint so cut in quickly and roll it on quickly, it usually dries clear so you don’t have to be perfect with it. This is an important step if you ever want the paper to come off, plus it makes it easier to move the wet paper around to position it just right. Let the sizing dry.

2. While the sizing is dry, determine the lengths of your paper cuts.  If there is a pattern, you must factor that in.  Check the length of the pattern repeat and divide that number into the height of your wall.  Round up to a whole number and then take your answer and multiply it by the length of the repeat.  This will give you your approximate cut length.


However, I always roll out the paper and decide where I want the repeat to start up at the ceiling.  Do I want a full flower or a half flower or whatever design you are working with. Once I decide this, I then measure down on the paper the height of my wall and add a couple inches to that length for trimming.  Then, find the next repeat and do the same thing all over again. If the design is intricate and difficult to tell up from down, pencil an arrow on the back of each strip to help you get it right.

3. When the sizing is dry, determine where in the room you want to start.  Make it the more inconspicuous corner.  If you are papering the whole room, you will start in this corner by wrapping around the corner a slight bit so when you put up the very last piece, the corner won’t be showing through. Because of this, the repeat won’t be quite right, thus the reason for starting perhaps behind the door.

4. Now, measure the width of the paper and measure out from the corner ½” less than the width of your paper.  This allows for the ½ inch to wrap around the corner. Then, use a long level to pencil in a vertical line to ensure that your first strip hangs perfectly straight.


5. Now, with several strips ready to go, set up your papering table with a drop cloth and the activator in a paint tray and roller and roller cover ready to go. With the paper face down on the drop cloth, load the roller full of activator, and roll it all over the back of the wallpaper strip.  This will start activating the glue on the paper.  Once you have every inch of it covered, fold the top of the paper to the middle and the bottom of the paper up to the middle to meet it.  This is called “booking” the paper. Let it sit like this for a few minutes so the glue is fully activated.

6. The next step is to put up the paper!  It is a tricky process, believe me, but start by unfolding just the top half of the paper, remember to position it so there is excess at the top to trim off.  Get your repeat on the wall down from the ceiling the way you like while lining the edge up with the vertical pencil line you drew.  Then start smoothing the paper down into and around the corner, up to the ceiling and down along your pencil line.

If you get a fold, peel back the paper and try again. You should expect to see little bubbles, that is what the smoothing brush or plastic smoother is for.  I also like using a damp sponge to smooth out the paper, it seems less abrasive to me than the other options. Before you get the top on too tight, unfold the bottom part of the strip and make sure it is still lined up with your vertical line, then smooth it down as well.

Make sure all the edges are down tight. You can use a seam roller for this but don’t press too hard because you will remove too much glue from the edge and can even make an impression in the paper.


7. These three tools are your best friends.  If they are sharp, they will make your wallpapering job look fantastic with clean crisp cuts.  Use them to trim along the ceiling, the baseboards and door and window trims.  It’s best to remove vent covers, intercom covers, etc. along with the electrical covers and cut to the inside of where they sit so the cover goes right over the paper for a very clean appearance.

8. The last step once you have a strip up and perfectly placed is to wipe it down with a damp sponge to remove any excess activator or glue. This is so important because when it dries it is visible and after time it can take the color right off your paper. By the way, change the water in your bucket often so you are always wiping the walls with clean water and a clean sponge.

9. Well, with one strip up it’s time to go back to the pasting table and activate another strip.  This time you will be lining the strip up with the first strip on the wall, making sure your repeats line up perfectly. Do not overlap the next strip, but butt it up without stretching or when it dries it could pull away from the first strip.

In fact, sometimes if you are putting a dark background paper over a light wall, it’s a good idea to paint the wall the same color as the background of your wallpaper first so if there is any shrinkage, you won’t see the lines where two strips butt together.

10. OK, now there will be other corners in the room of course and here’s what to do. Measure from the last strip hung to the corner.  Do this is three places, at the top, bottom and middle.  Take the largest measurement and add ½”.  Cut your next strip to this width and save the leftover. Put this piece up and wrap it around the corner.  Then, measure the width of the leftover piece and take the smallest measurement.  Measure out from the corner this width and draw another vertical level line.  Put the leftover piece up lined up with the vertical line and butt it into the corner.  Yes, there will be a slight variance in the design, but wrapping around a corner can put you off level vertically and you can never come back from it and it will ruin your wallpaper job.

11. When you come around to the last strip of paper, measure to the corner in three different places and cut the strip width to the longest measurement. Install the last piece.

12. Now walk around the room and check that all your seams are adhering and that you’ve wiped up all the glue. Put away your tools, clean up and be in awe of your newly acquired talent!!


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