Wallpapering Tips and Tricks

Someone wallpapering a wall.

The wallpaper trend is going strong. More and more people are finding themselves drawn to the statement-making patterns that can only be accomplished by wallpapering. There’s an abundance of new designs on the market from sleek and modern to kitschy and cute, and even some retro favorites. These aren’t your grandmother’s floral walls (unless that’s what you’re into). If you’re one of many who are considering wallpapering their homes, here are some wallpapering tips and tricks to get you started.

Before you even begin, consider how difficult wallpapering may be for you. It’s not the same as painting your house. You have to line the paper up correctly, smooth out bubbles and imperfections, and apply the right amount of adhesive so it sticks, but doesn’t make a huge mess. Even though you should go into this with an open mind, know that it’s also completely possible to do an excellent job even as a beginner.

Measure Accurately

Once you decide you want to go ahead with the application process, the first thing you have to do is take accurate measurements. You should do this using a yardstick or steel tape measure (not a cloth tape measure). Always take measurements in feet, and round off to the next highest foot or half-foot. It's better to have too much than too little. Then, find the total square footage of the wall by multiplying the ceiling heights by the room circumference. Next, subtract any areas that won’t be covered like doorways and windows.

Order All at Once

Wallpaper rolls.

When it comes to ordering wallpaper, it’s much different than paint. While paint is likely to almost always come out the exact same color with a proper swatch, wallpaper is different. Order all the wallpaper you need at once and when it arrives, check the lot numbers to ensure it’s all from the same batch. Sometimes the colors can be slightly off between batches, which might not be totally noticeable to most, but if you’re a perfectionist it could drive you nuts.

Use Lining Paper for a Smooth Application

Lining paper prevents the wallpaper from creasing or stretching, and it also helps the paste to dry faster. Try starting out with a medium-weight lining paper. This can help give you extra practice before you hang the wallpaper.

Try an Accent Wall First

If you’re in love with the idea of adding wallpaper to your home, but not sure if you want to tackle an entire room, consider papering only one wall as an accent. It's a great way to experience wallpaper, as well as get some practice in in the event you decide to commit to a whole room. If you do choose to wallpaper just one wall, go for a wall that has no windows or doors, and paint the rest of the room either a matching or contrasting color.

Use Samples to Decide on a Pattern

Although wallpaper samples are relatively small, they might help you make up your mind. (They usually come in 8x10” pieces.) You can request samples from whichever store you’re shopping at.

Preparation Makes Perfect

There are a few things you should do before you begin wallpapering. First, you should paint the ceiling if it needs to be done. To ensure a smooth application, fill in any cracks or dents in the walls you plan to wallpaper. The walls also need to be sealed with a special wallpaper primer.

Choose Adhesive Based on the Paper Weight

Wallpaper and adhesive.

The type of adhesive you need will depend on the type of paper you use. For example, a cold water paste can be used for most types of wallpaper. (It’s also the easiest to remove.) If you’re applying a heavy, quality wallpaper, you might want to consider using a heavy-duty paste. This way, you don’t risk the wallpaper falling off before the paste dries.

Pay Attention to the Corners

Adding wallpaper to the corners of the room isn’t as easy as folding it around. For the inside corner, wrap no more than ½” around. The paper will pull away as it dries, which could cause wrinkling, tears, or bare spots if it’s not done right. For outside corners, you can paper around them and then overlap the paper so that the uncut edge will be plumb and then double-cut the overlap.

Paper Over Electrical Switches and Sockets

First, make sure you turn off the power in the room you’re wallpapering before working around switches and sockets. You can then paper right over them. Once the wallpaper has been applied, simply cut the wallpaper from corner to corner in an x-shape over the socket. You can then trim away the flaps and replace the cover plates.

Keep the Room at the Right Temperature

Believe it or not, the room you are wallpapering should be at a specific temperature. In fact, it should be about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Extreme temperatures that are too hot or too cold can affect the drying phase. If the temperature is right, everything should dry in about 24 hours.