How to Decorate With Wallpaper

Change the look of your favorite room by using wallpaper.
contemporary wallpaper with a traditional pattern

contemporary wallpaper with a traditional pattern

©Image Courtesy of Thibaut

Image Courtesy of Thibaut

You don't need to be a professional decorator to hang wallpaper. Check out this simple wallpaper project:

Materials and Tools:

putty knife
measuring tape
sanding block and fine sandpaper
wallpaper water tray
seam roller
sharp utility knife
plastic straight edge
wallpaper brush
framing square
pre-pasted wallpaper


Prepare the wall
1. Turn off the power to the room at the circuit breaker box, and remove any electrical covers. Cover the exposed outlets and switches with masking tape.
2. Repair any damaged areas with spackling. Allow to dry, and sand it smooth with fine sandpaper.
3. Apply latex primer to the entire area to be papered. Primer allows the wallpaper adhesive to bond to the wall.
Note: If you're only papering the wall up to a chair rail height, mark a level line around the room, and apply masking tape to keep from getting primer on the wall above.

Apply the wallpaper
1. Measure the width of your wallpaper. From a corner, measure and mark that distance. Then subtract 1/2 inch and make a second mark. Use a level to draw a plumb line based on the second mark. This line will serve as your starting point. Subtracting 1/2 inch from the measurement will allow you to compensate if your corner isn't perfectly plumb. Starting in a corner will allow you to hide any mismatched seams when you finish the installation. The seam will not be as noticeable in a corner.
2. Cut a small strip of wallpaper. From the starting line, use the strip as a guide to determine how many strips you will need and where the seams will go. Work your way around the room marking the seam locations with a pencil. If necessary, adjust the position of the starting line so that the final piece is at least 4 inches wide.
3. Measure out a piece of wallpaper 4 inches longer than the distance between the top and bottom of your installation. Cut the wallpaper using a straight edge and a utility knife.
4. Roll the paper into a wallpaper tray filled with lukewarm water. Allow it to soak for 15 seconds. Hold the wallpaper by the corners and slowly remove it, adhesive side out.
5. Book the ends of the wallpaper by folding it over, adhesive side in, and matching up the corners. Booking helps spread the adhesive evenly.
6. After about two minutes, peel the ends apart and apply the wallpaper to the wall. Work from the top down, aligning the edge with the vertical starting line. Use a wallpaper brush to smooth the paper and remove air bubbles. Brush from the top down and work from the center outward.
7. Butt a second strip tightly against the first strip, and match the pattern. Repeat the process around the room.
8. After the wallpaper has been on the wall for 15 minutes, use a seam roller to press the seams together. Roll from the top down, one roll per seam. Be careful not to press too hard with the seam roller. Rolling more than once per seam could squeeze out the adhesive.
9. Trim around outlets, starting at the center and trimming out toward the corners.
10. Trim along baseboards and moldings. Guide the knife using a plastic straight edge. Use a long straight edge to trim wallpaper in the middle of the wall.
11. Replace any outlet covers, and turn the power back on.

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