Beginner's Guide for How to Hang Wallpaper at Home

Hanging wallpaper yourself is much easier than most people think, and once you’ve tried it once, you’ll see how adding wallpaper to a wall in your home can completely transform the look and feel of a room. Before you begin, it’s important to note that there are different techniques for hanging different types of wallpaper, depending on whether the wallpaper comes with its own adhesive or requires the addition of wallpaper paste. With the proper preparation and a little knowledge, learning how to hang wallpaper can be a fun and creative process.

Step One: Planning and Preparation

The first step when learning how to hang wallpaper is choosing the right wallpaper. This means exploring different types of wallpaper, patterns, and textures to find a wallpaper that suits your style and also complements your room. 

Popular wallpaper panel prints include everything from bold colorful prints and bold patterns to unassuming and elegant neutrals. Here’s a peek at a few trending wallpaper panel designs:

  • Maximalist-inspired wallpaper prints that use rich color contrasts and a variety of patterns and textures
  • Vintage floral wallpaper that craves the spotlight and creates a stunning focal point
  • Whimsical and boho wallpaper prints that add a chic and charming touch to an entire wall
  • Wallpaper neutrals that are timeless and versatile, and evoke a sense of balance and tranquility
  • Tropical prints that create a fresh and trendy ambiance, especially in small spaces

Ultimately, choosing a wallpaper design depends on your personal taste. It’s best, therefore, to choose a design that speaks to your personality and enhances the ambiance you want to create.

Step Two: Gather Your Materials and Tools

Once you have your wallpaper aesthetic picked out, it’s time to create a checklist of the tools you’ll need to apply your wallpaper. Choosing the right tools for wallpaper application helps to ensure that your wallpaper looks like it has been professionally installed. Additionally, having the right materials and tools for wallpaper application can make the overall process of installing wallpaper much more enjoyable.

There are generally two ways you can install and hang wallpaper: 

  1. The good old-fashioned way is by purchasing wallpaper that does not come with wallpaper paste or adhesive (you will have to buy or make your own). 
  2. You can make your life easier by choosing a peel-and-stick, no-water, no-paste, no-mess wallpaper print. 

Please note that traditional wallpaper (without its own adhesive) may require hiring a professional. Considering that self-adhesive wallpaper is generally intended for the DIYer (do it yourself-er) a peel-and-stick variety is usually best if you plan to install wallpaper yourself.

In both scenarios, the tools you will need for seamless wallpaper installation are:

  • One or a few rolls of wallpaper, depending on the size of the space. Overcalculating the amount of wallpaper you will need is always better than not having enough.
  • Wallpaper paste and/or adhesive and a pasting table if you are not using peel-and-stick wallpaper
  • A smoothing tool such as a damp sponge, paint brush, or putty knife
  • Wallpaper scissors or a utility knife with several replacement blades
  • A tape measure
  • A pencil
  • A plumb line/chalk line to ensure a vertical straight line
  • A seam roller to create a tight seam between wallpaper layers and between the wallpaper and the adjacent wall
  • A stepladder

In addition to the tools you will need for hanging wallpaper, it’s a good idea to protect the surrounding floors. To do this, use a drop cloth or plastic sheeting to cover the outer edge of the entire floor and tape down the edges to the excess paper to keep it in place.

Step Three: Measure the Walls and Hang Your First Strip 

  1. First, make sure your walls are ready for wallpaper. You can start by removing all existing wallpaper or any loose paint paste from the wall. Also, it’s a good idea to clean the outside corners of painted walls thoroughly to remove any dirt, dust, or debris using a detergent solution. Check the wall surface for any irregularities and use a filler for holes and/or sandpaper down any uneven surfaces. Lastly, unscrew all wall-mounted light fixtures (these will be replaced later).
  2. Next, measure your walls accurately. Calculate the amount of wallpaper you will need for your project by using a tape measure and a pencil line to measure the area of your wall space. In this case, overestimating the amount of wallpaper that you’ll need is better than running out in the middle of your wallpapering project. Some professionals recommend adding an extra 10 to 20 centimeters (4 to 8 inches) to your calculated wall area for an allowable "mess-up" margin. 
  3. Use the plumb line to mark a straight vertical line where the first wallpaper panel will go and make a pencil mark at several points down this line. If you are doing a single feature wall, you can start by installing your first wallpaper strip in the center. Contrarily, if your goal is to wallpaper an entire room, you can start from the left-hand corner. Either way, it helps to use a plumb line to make a line or two across the wall to ensure that your wallpaper hangs straight. Pro tip: Every time you begin a new wall or turn a new corner, add new plumb line markings to ensure that your wallpaper is straight.
  4. Now, hang your first strip. Apply the top half of the strip to the wall overlapping onto the ceiling and work your way down to the floor. For traditional wallpaper, you’ll need to either paste the wall or paste the wallpaper. For self-adhesive varieties, either wet the backing to activate the adhesive, or peel off the backing for peel-and-stick designs.
  5. Finally, cut your wallpaper, leaving at least 3 inches on the top and bottom for overlapping and trimming. 

Step Four: Hang Additional Strips and Smooth out the Wallpaper Paste

Using your first wallpaper strip as a guide, hang subsequent strips of wallpaper with a one-inch overlap. If you are working with a pattern, ensure that your pattern matches throughout. Once all additional wallpaper strips have been hung, make sure you trim any excess wallpaper at the ceiling, baseboards, and corners of adjacent walls for a clean and seamless look. 

In addition, make sure you deal with any air bubbles and wrinkles by smoothing them out using a wet sponge (if the wallpaper has a thin vinyl coating) or smoothing tool (for uncoated fabric wallpaper), pressing gently to remove any excess air. Lastly, add the finishing touch by using a seam roller to flatten and seal the wallpaper edges.

Step Five: Take Pride in Your New Wallpaper Hanging Skills

Once your wallpaper is hung and dry, take a step back and pat yourself on the back for all your hard work. As you can see, with the right preparation, materials, and techniques, hanging wallpaper can be a rewarding and enjoyable DIY project that produces stunning results.

While we often think of wallpaper as having been popular in decades past, the global wallpaper market is actually expected to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.87% over the next several years. With new peel-and-stick wallpaper varieties that make DIY installations much easier, people are realizing that wallpaper is still a terrific way to decorate their homes!

Give Your Home a New Look

If you haven’t embarked on your wallpaper-hanging journey just yet, remember that you can achieve a professional-looking result by following the steps presented in this guide. All it takes is a bit of patience, the right tools, and perseverance to succeed in creating a beautiful room or an eye-catching statement wall.

So, if you are ready to say goodbye to plain walls and boring spaces, then wallpaper may be the solution. A stunning wallpaper backdrop that enhances the beauty and style of a room is sure to give your space the lift it needs.

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