Wallpaper is making a comeback and it’s easier than ever now. I’ve gathered all the best wallpapering tips and tricks (including what I’ve learned!) to help make it even easier.
I’ll go over all the big things to think about and all the little things that you didn’t know from how to make the adhesive a tad easier to work with to how to stay organized during the install. Wallpaper is one of the easiest ways to transform and personalize a space. Make this one of your DIY skills and you’ll open new doors and opportunities for your home design! Okay, let’s get started!
Wallpapering Tip #1 : Consider The Room & Function
It’s tempting to order whatever wallpaper is prettiest (isn’t that the whole point?), but first, you should consider the room and its function. For example, if you are putting wallpaper in rooms that are likely to get dirty and need a scrub down (like a kitchen, hallway, or bathroom), then picking a vinyl-type wallpaper will be best. Also, some wallpapers, like grass cloth, should not be installed in rooms with high humidity, like bathrooms.
Most wallpapering websites have an option to sort papers by type, so you could easily see the options that would work best for your room. You can order wallpaper at Spoonflower in a variety of different types, and they have a handy informational pop-up to help you pick the best wallpaper for your project.
Wallpapering Tip #2: Know About the Wallpaper Installation Methods
There are four general ways to install wallpaper:
- Prepasted – This type of wallpaper already has the paste adhered to the wallpaper. You’ll need to spray or soak it in water and wait a certain amount of time before installing it.
- Unpasted | Paste-The-Wall – This wallpaper does not have any adhesive on it. You’ll apply the adhesive to the wall and then install the dry wallpaper on top of it. This type of paper is usually non-woven and easy to install.
- Unpasted | Paste-The-Paper – This wallpaper does not have adhesive on it. However, you’ll need to apply the adhesive to the paper, wait for 5 minutes or longer, and then install it.
- Peel & Stick – This wallpaper is like a big sticker. I’ve used it on a project before and it does allow you to reposition it and can be removed easily in the future without any damage.
The installation method depends on the type of paper and is generally noted on the label. By knowing the installation method, you’ll be able to purchase the right supplies and get the most longevity out of the paper.
Wallpapering Tip #3: Read the Directions
I have ordered over 5 different wallpapers over the last couple of years and found a wide variety of instructions. Some are very detailed and others are very vague. If it is very detailed, you should follow the directions exactly. For example, the directions could outline how to prime your walls, how long to soak your paper and other valuable tips. I’ve also had instructions that provided basically no information beyond stating a professional installer should be used (not that helpful).
However, when looking at the directions you should also take a look at the wallpaper symbols as this will help you when installing or prepping for the wallpaper. These symbols will tell you how washable the paper is, how the paper will react to the sun (i.e., does it bleach easily), how to install the paper, how to remove the paper, and the pattern alignment. This website contains detailed explanations of all the symbols.
Wallpapering Tip #4: Order More Wallpaper Than You Need
When calculating how much wallpaper you’ll need, always add an extra roll. It’s likely that you’ll make a mistake if this is your first time. It’s also nice to know that you’ll have extra just in case you ever need to repair the wallpaper down the road.
It can be painful to spend that extra money, but you may be able to return it if you don’t use it. Also, ordering a little bit more will prevent you from running out mid-install.
Wallpapering Tip #5: Know the Lot Number
Every roll of paper will tell you the batch or lot number. This is important because there can be slight variations (i.e., color) between batches. The best practice is to order all your wallpaper at one time. When you receive it, check the batch numbers and verify they are all the same. If you need to order a new roll, you can request the same batch number but it’s not guaranteed by most suppliers.
Wallpapering Tip #6: Gather Supplies & Make Yourself A Wallpaper Kit
To make things easier, gather all your supplies and store them in the same place. Better yet, store them in a Tupperware box and keep a checklist of supplies in the box. Some of the required supplies won’t fit in a reasonably-sized container but if you have the checklist you can grab the last few items.
I made myself a wallpaper kit and I uploaded my checklist here. You can download the list and quickly make your own kit. Some supplies are only needed for certain types of wallpaper installation.
Wallpapering Tip #7: Prep Your Walls Accordingly
After reading the directions, you should prep the walls. This usually means cleaning them and occasionally painting on some wallpaper primer. I really like the Zisser primer. It’s affordable and seems to have worked well for the project that we used it on. We have a couple of other wallpapering projects in the hopper, so I’ll continue to update everyone on how wallpaper holds up.
Wallpapering Tip #8: Understanding Double Rolls Vs. Single Rolls
Wallpaper can come as a single roll OR a double roll. The double roll is still only 1 roll, but it has twice as much paper as the single roll. When you buy a double roll, you’ll pay for two rolls even though you’ll only get one. The length of the wallpaper for “double roll” wallpaper is for the total amount.
Let’s use an example as this is sometimes confusing. Below is an example from one of my favorite wallpaper websites, Going Decor. This particular wallpaper is sold in double rolls. Remember, you are still only getting ONE roll, the length is just longer (as it detailed below). The price listed is for a single roll, but you can only order a quantity of two at a time. However, you will only get ONE roll that is double the length.
Wallpapering Tip #9: Add a Small Amount of Water to Paste if Thick
If you need to use adhesive (for unpasted papers), I’ve found a very small amount of water can help loosen it up a bit if it starts feeling thick and doesn’t spread easily. Don’t add too much water, because you don’t want to dilute the paste. A splash of water (~1-2 teaspoons) in the entire container is all I would typically use.
Wallpapering Tip #10: Use an Apron or Belt to Hold Tools
Wallpapering requires a surprising number of tools that you’ll need to frequently use. It’s easy to misplace the smoother or loose the utility knife under a rag or two. I just bought myself an apron to hold the abundance of tools and it’s a game-changer. I’ve never felt so prepared.
Purchase an apron with lots of pockets. It should have large and small ones to give you storage for all the things. This is the one I purchased from Amazon.
Wallpapering Tip #11: Use a Laser Level to Install the Paper Straight
The most important thing for wallpaper is to make sure your first piece (and I would argue the first piece on every wall) is completely straight. When the paper is installed straight, it will be much easier to install the rest and, of course, your pattern will look amazing! I have found when my paper is not straight, wrinkling, and bubbling start to be bigger problems.
To get the wallpaper straight, we use a fancy laser level. I particularly like this self-leveling one with vertical and horizontal lines, as you can use it for all kinds of projects. It is an investment but well worth it if you are a DIYer.
Wallpapering Tip #12: Don’t Fret too much about Corners
If you are doing more than one wall, you’ll need to tackle the corners and they are intimidating at first. What I’ve learned is that I shouldn’t fret too much about the corners. The corner will create a slight distortion because of the nature of it, so instead of focusing on lining up the pattern perfectly, focus on getting the piece of paper that goes on the new wall perfectly straight (see tip 11 above).
Wallpapering Tip #13: Change Water & Rinse Sponge after 3 or 4 Panels
The adhesive from the wallpaper can easily be smeared all over your freshly papered wall with a dirty sponge or dirty water. This can lead to long-lasting marks on your wallpaper that are impossible to remove. To avoid this, I like to change the water and rinse out my sponge every 3-4 panels. It can be a little annoying but it’s much easier to start with a clean sponge and water than to do it frantically once the glue is all over the wallpaper.
Wallpapering Tip #14: Have a Damp & Dry Rag
Like tip # 13, this one is to help keep your installed wallpaper as clean as possible. Keep a wet and dry rag on you at all times. I use both rags to wipe off my wallpaper smoother when it starts accumulating adhesive. I’ll first use the wet one to clear the glue and then the dry one to dry off the smoother. Just like a dirty sponge or dirty water, a messy wallpaper smoother will spread adhesive all over your new wallpaper. Some of this is unavoidable but the goal is to make as little mess as possible. It’s also nice to wipe off your hands occasionally.
Wallpapering Tip #15: Have a Buddy Present
Wallpaper can be done by one person, especially if they are experienced, have the right tools and patience. However, if this is a DIY project, I would recommend having someone help you. This person can be another set of eyes to make sure things look right and can help when wallpapering around objects, like doors and windows. Most importantly though, you can tag this person in to do some work when it starts to feel tedious or if you start getting frustrated.
Patience is key for wallpaper installation, so always having a buddy ensures that at least one person will have the reserves to jump in when needed. Also, it’s just funner to do everything with someone else.
Wallpapering Tip #16: Order Samples Before Making a Decision
I know how tempting it is to just order a wallpaper that you love without purchasing a sample first. However, seeing something in real life versus on the computer can be a totally different experience. I would recommend you spend the $5/$6 and get a sample (try to get a couple so you have options!).
The samples will give you an idea of the scale, paper quality, sheen, true colors, textural elements, and print quality of the image. I’ve gotten plenty of papers that surprised me (some good and some not so good). One time I ordered two rolls without getting a sample and I was very disappointed in the quality. Learn from my mistakes – always order a sample!
Wallpapering Tip #17: Watch a Few YouTube Videos Before Installing
Youtube is a treasure trove of resources for DIYers. I spent a few hours watching all kinds of videos the first time I installed wallpaper. I linked my favorite videos in a couple of posts (here and here). You can start with those videos, but don’t hesitate to find your own if none of these apply to your type of paper (they’ll still give good tips on going around doors and windows).
Wallpapering Tip #18: If you’re a beginner, Start with An Accent Wall
I already mentioned that wallpapering around corners can be a pain in the tush. An easy way to get started is to wallpaper a single wall. The first wallpaper I used was a mural in my son’s room. It was large enough for a single wall and I cut my teeth (and made mistakes!!) with that first install. I learned many valuable lessons that helped with my future wallpaper projects.
Wallpapering Tip #19: If you’re a beginner, try Non-Woven Paste-The-Wall Wallpaper
Non-woven, paste-the-wall wallpaper is very DIY-friendly. I’ve used this several times and it just keeps getting easier. Why is this a great choice? Well, you don’t have to worry about soaking times for starters. With other types of wallpaper, you may need to have it soak in water or adhesive for a given amount of time. If it doesn’t soak long enough, your paper may not be fully saturated and therefore not fully stretched out. If installed before it’s fully saturated, the wallpaper will shrink which creates seams between your panels. This is not a problem for non-woven, paste-the-wall types because it doesn’t stretch when wet.
Another great thing is this type of paper is usually very cleanable-perfect if you have kids or pets. Lastly, I find the install to be straightforward and require minimal tools.
Well, there you have my 19 favorite tips for wallpapering. Do you have any special tips or tricks? Please share them in the comments!