The hardest part about hanging wallpaper is being patient with the process because something will go wrong at some point. There are no shortcuts. Typically wall papering a room cost a little more than painting it, but it depends on the type of covering you select. It also tends to take more time to finish the job than painting.
When deciding the wallpaper, the end result is only going to look as good as the wall behind it so you must prepare the wall before beginning. Yes, it is possible to paper over old wall paper if the seams are secure, but I would not recommend it. Sometimes old coverings can hide damage to the wall so the best advice is to strip any old covering off to inspect the wall for any imperfections, mildew or water damage. That can be a job in and of itself but it is worth it in the end.
When choosing a wall paper, consider the following ideas before selecting a color or pattern:
Lighter colored papers tend to open up a room by adding the feeling of more space.
Striped papers tend to pull the eye up and down a room which gives the illusion of the ceilings being higher.
Smaller prints tend to keep the eyes focused in the room making it a more intimate setting.
Darker colors tend to make a room feel smaller for a more intimate feel also.
Types of Wallpaper
Vinyl – generally used in commercial settings, contains a vinyl pattern over paper
Vinyl coated, washable – washable with soap and water
Vinyl coated, scrubbable – can be washed more frequently, however it can not be scrubbed with a brush as the name suggests
Strippable – pulling up the corner of the paper will remove the entire strip
Peelable – easily removed as the name suggests
Double Roll – twice the amount per roll as a single roll, not twice as wide
Random-match – the pattern automatically aligns when you place one strip next to the other, typical striped papers
Straight-match – pattern stops before it reaches the edges of the paper requiring more time spent on aligning it with the previous strip
Drop-match – the edge of the strip cuts through the pattern diagonally and the “pattern repeat” is usually printed on the back of the package
Before You Begin
Before you start any wallpapering project, you will need the following supplies.
- Wallpaper and paste activator
- Vinyl to vinyl adhesive (for vinyl coated papers only)
- Tape measure
- Scissors and pencil
- 48 “ level
- Water tray and paint roller or brush (for paste)
- Wallpaper brush and seam roller
- Utility knife and a trimming tool called a broad knife
Also, you will need a large table or work area to spread the paper out. If you do not have a table large enough, you can place a piece of 4’ x 8’ plywood over two saw horses to form a table.
General Tips on Hanging Wallpaper Before you Begin
- When buying wallpaper, get a paste activator instead of the type that requires soaking prepasted paper.
- Apply each strip of paper from the top down
- Choose patterns that have easier seams to match by looking at the drop listed on the package
- Use a sharp blade to cut the paper and replace it often
- Try to buy paper from the same batch as the color can vary otherwise
Preparing the Wall
- Clean the wall with a mild solution of soap and water to remover dirt, grease and other remnants left over from old paper or paint
- Fill small holes or cracks with surface compound, then sand it lightly before wiping the dust off the wall with a damp cloth
- If there are large holes or gaps, or other damage to the wall, fill it with spackling paste with a putty knife, then sand after it dries
- Seal the wall with a primer/sealer combo product to keep water, smoke and other stains from showing through the paper
Wallpapering Inside a Corner
After you start a wallpapering project, at some point you will come to a corner. For corners that turn inside, measure the distance between the last strip of wallpaper and the corner in three different places, up high, in the middle, and down closer to the floor. Sometimes walls can be out of plumb so this procedure is designed to prevent sloping or angled paper.
Note: For this discussion, it is assumed you are using paste activator wallpaper and before hanging in the appropriate step, you have applied the paste activator.
- Once you have the three measurements, add 2 inches to the longest measurement and mark that distance at both folds of the strip.
- Using a long straightedge such as a 48’ level against the marks, cut along the edge with a utility knife. Do not throw away the part you cutoff though.
- Position the strip you just cut on the wall so that it matches up with the last strip already pasted to the wall. Allow the new piece to overlap the ceiling by 2 inches. Let any additional width turn around the corner of the next wall.
- Using open hands gently smooth the wallpaper onto the wall and into the corner.
- Using the utility knife and perhaps a broad knife to hold the paper in place while you cut slits from the corner to the edge of the paper at the top and bottom of the new strip of wallpaper. This will allow you to wrap the overlap around the corner without wrinkling it.
- Using a wallpaper smoothing tool, flatten the new strip of wallpaper and trim the excess at the top near the ceiling and the bottom near the baseboard.
- If any glue comes out from behind the paper as you are flattening it, wipe it away with a cloth.
- Now, remember the strip you cut off in Step 2? Go back to it and place it up against the wall around the corner you just papered into. Now we are going to match the pattern up again to where it was cut before.
- While hold it against the wall, measure the distance from the corner onto the unpapered side of the wall and make a mark using a pencil.
- From that mark, draw a plumb line from top to the bottom of the floor using your 48” level again. The line needs to be perfectly straight.
- Hang the cutoff piece of small wallpaper on the wall with the edge that was cut toward the corner and the factory edge lined up exactly on the plumb line. Align the patterns. You will probably need to overlap the pieces somewhat.
- Press the strip flat with a smooth tool, then trim the excess off the edges at the ceiling and floor baseboard.
Wallpaper Installation Inside a Corner
Wallpapering Outside Corners
When you approach a corner that turns outside instead, as in around a corner, then the process is a little different.
Draw a line to guide yourself as you approach the corner. If the corner is out of plumb as will probably be the case, this plumb line once again will ensure that you wallpaper is not hung crooked or wrinkled as you wrap it.
- Using the long 48” level again, draw a plumb by measuring from the existing strip to the corner at the top, middle section, and bottom. Again, you want three different measurements since the distances may be slightly more or less.
- Take the longest distance you measured and add an inch to it
- Subtract the total from the width of a strip of paper.
- Draw a plumb line using this distance around the corner using the straight edge.
- Draw a plumb line on the wall that is the distance from the cut edge of the previous strip.
- Now hang the cutoff and align the leading edge with the plumb line on the wall around the corner. Slide the paper back and forth until the patterns match. You may need to overlap the papers slightly.
- Cut the paper at the top and bottom with scissors so you will be able to warpa it around the corner without wrinkles.
- Now smooth everything down using a tool being sure not to press too hard so that the glue squeezes out of the edges.
Wallpaper Installation Outside a Corner
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Wallpapering can be a tedious process, but once you get a few strips up, you should be able to speed up the process. Wallpapering into and around corners certainly makes the job more difficult, but if you follow the steps above, you should not have a problem. They are designed so that you will not have wallpaper that wraps into or around a corner that buckles, wrinkles or is not plumb on the next wall, which would throw off the rest of the paper on that wall.
Be sure to prepare the wall first, then take your time with each strip and things should go as planned if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and the tips this article has provided.
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