Hanging Wallpaper in a Room: Where to Start

Lead Image
What You'll Need
Box cutter
Tape measure
wallpaper brush

Hanging wallpaper looks easy, but it is actually quite difficult to get right, especially if you are hanging patterned wallpaper. Figuring out where to start sets the scene for success. Here are some simple rules to follow to make sure you do a good job.


applying mud to a wall seam

Preparing the walls to accept wallpaper means you need to make sure they are clean and free of cracks, bumps and any other discrepancies that will show once the wallpaper is hung. Wallpaper is highly sensitive to blemishes in the wall. Even tiny pinhead bumps will be emphasized by wallpaper, so make sure the walls are all flat and flush without anything sticking out from them. This may require you to patch holes and sand down rough areas.

Position in the Room

You can hang your first piece of wallpaper in a number of places in the room. Plan carefully because you could end up with too many off-cuts and lose a great deal of wallpaper that you could have used more sparingly. For a professional finish, remember that preparation is the key. The better prepared the walls are, the better chance of success you will have with your wallpaper.

Choosing the Best Place

While preparing the room, you should clear all the furniture out and use drop cloths on the floor. Look around the room for features like a chimney stack or a window. The first thing to plan is working around the chimney stack if you have one, and using it as your starting point. If a window is the main feature in the room, you should start right in the middle and work from either side.


wallpaper in a dining room

If the window is the only feature in the room that you can use as your starting point, measure the window and mark the center-line. Use a plumb line or spirit level to mark a line where you can hang the first piece. The seam should be exactly on the line and plumb. Hang the first piece to the right of the line and the second piece to the left. You should have a perfectly straight guide to hang the rest of the paper on that wall.


If you have a chimney stack, there are two ways you can start installing wallpaper. You can take the measurement of the chimney stack and subtract that measurement from the width of the wallpaper rolls and then divide by two. For example, if the chimney stack measures 46 inches and the wallpaper rolls measure 18 inches, subtract 18 from 46 to get 28. Next, divide 28 by 2 to leave 14. The first length of wallpaper will be hung with exactly 14 inches on either side of the center of the chimney stack.

You can now continue hanging the wallpaper from either side of the first drop. Alternatively, you can mark the centerline of the chimney stack and hang a piece of wallpaper from either side of it in the same way you would do with the window.