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How to Apply Wallpaper, Application Techniques for Wallcoverings at Home

Step-by-step guide for expertly applying wallpaper to a pretreated surface.

After you have properly prepared your wall for the new wall covering, it’s time to begin the process of wallpapering.

Where to Begin Wallpapering

For paper with large prints or key images, look for the focal point of the room and center the motif so your room looks even. Then work off that centerpiece.

If you’re using a solid paper or a small print you won’t have this issue, so you can paper in a way that will save you some headache, instead of cutting around windows or other features on all sides, butt one edge of the paper flush against the window frame.


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Measuring Wallpaper

Measure your wall height at both ends and in the middle, it is not uncommon for walls to be a little off. Add about four inches to your length so you cut a piece long enough, you will trim later. Measure as much as you’ll need for one entire wall first.

Match patterns before you cut and label the back tops of each sheet in order so you know which piece goes where and how it gets placed on the wall.

Apply the paste first in a straight lengthwise fashion and then in a crisscross so you get a good amount of paste evenly applied. If your paper is longer than the table, work in sections, carefully folding the glue sides together with loose folds.

Applying Wallpaper

Use a carpenter’s chalk plumb-line to establish your first straight edge, start in the middle of the wall, and line one side of your paper against this line, work from the top down. Your top edge will overlap the ceiling by about two inches.

Use a wallpaper brush to smooth out the paper and then trim the excess. Do the same on the bottom where there is excess. Move on to the next piece, using the straight edge of the first piece as a guide.

Wallpapering Around Corners

When working into an inside corner, measure the distance from the paper to the corner and add about five-eighths of an inch, overlap this tiny bit extra onto the next wall.

Begin the next wall by measuring the width left on your trimmed corner piece and setting a plumb-line this distance. Line the remaining trimmed strip up between the corner and the plumb-line, it should fit perfectly. Continue in the same fashion around the room.

Lay paper over objects and other features and then cut out when you have it fitted to the surrounding wall. Trim from the inside and cut a bit out at a time so you don’t over cut and end up with a gap of missing wallpaper.

Cleaning Up After Wallpapering

If you have a helper, have them wash surfaces of any remaining glue with a mild detergent and warm water. If you don’t have an assistant, do it yourself as soon as possible. It’s easier to remove the paste before it dries.

Try not to mess with the paper too much after its in place, it will shrink and tighten as it dries and some of the bubbles will take care of themselves in this process.

For a finishing touch, use remaining paper to cover switchplates. Or remaining paper can be used to cover other objects such as storage containers, flower pots or even furniture pieces. If you have a roll or more remaining see if the store will take it back, many wallpaper companies have liberal return policies. And remember to keep a bit extra for future repairs.

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