How to Install Wallpaper: It’s Not That Bad!

Wallpaper is making a comeback people! It was all the rage in the 80s and then it fell out of style. And now, as so many trends do, it is back! And I am very glad about it too because this wallpaper makes me so frickin’ happy! I dove into this project with a little bit of apprehension but if I’m being honest, my excitement totally overpowered all of that!

As is the case with so many of my projects, I started the wallpapering process with zero experience and I finished with tons of new found know-how. And now I want to share my new knowledge with you!

First of all, there are different types of wallpaper: there are peel and stick kinds and there are more traditional kinds. Mine was traditional, so all the information I have to share is going to be for hanging traditional wallpaper.

I recorded a little video and I wrote out all the steps for you below! I’ve included links to all the tools you will need as well. Enjoy!

  1. First of all, it’s very important to make sure your first strip is vertically level. You don’t want to use the corner of your wall as your guide because more often than not, our walls aren’t perfectly squared (especially in old houses). Start your first strip of paper about 12 inches or more off of your corner. You can use a handheld level and a pencil or a laser level to get your straight line marked.
  2. With traditional paper, the glue is going to be activated when you apply water to the back of the paper. There are lots of options for this, but I would suggest reading the instructions that come with your paper for the best way to apply the water. The instructions on my wallpaper said to spray the back of the paper with a sprayer – in my opinion, this did not allow the paper and glue to get wet enough so I changed the process up a little bit and used a wet roller brush to apply the water.
  3. Once the water has been applied, you will want to “book” your paper. This means folding the bottom and top of your paper up to roughly the halfway point and letting the two glue sides lay together. You’ll want to let that sit for about 2-5 minutes. Play around with this and see what works best!
  4. While I let the glue activate on my paper, I did an extra step that was not in the instructions – and I found this part to be super helpful! I loaded up a paintbrush with wallpaper glue (this is just a water-based adhesive) and I painted a generous strip of glue down the edge of the paper that was already on the wall. This made my life so much easier!
  5. When your paper is ready, place it on the wall and begin to connect your patterns. The reason that extra strip of glue was so helpful to me was because it made the wallpaper super slippery and slidey on the wall – this made matching up my patterns so much easier because I could wiggle the paper up and down to get my patterns perfect!
  6. Once your patterns are matched up, you’ll want to take a plastic scraper and gently smooth out your wallpaper getting all the bubbles out. It’s important to use a plastic scraper here because a metal scraper will rip your paper. I found a diagonal motion from the center of the strip to the edge worked best!
  7. Now that your paper is nice and flat against the wall, you will take a metal straight edge and cut the excess paper on the top and the bottom of your wall. I used a 24″ paint shield but you can use a putty knife if that’s easer to get your hands on! This is the kind of knife that I used, I found it helpful because I was able to refresh my blade easily – this is really important! You’ll find that when your paper is wet, it’s a little more finicky while cutting. A sharp blade will be your best friend!
  8. Now that your paper is flat on the wall with nice crispy edges, you’re going to want to take a big damp sponge and wipe down all the excess glue that splooshed out of the edges when you were scraping away your bubbles. Then a dry rag to follow up and dry off your wall so you can move onto your next panel!

See? It’s not that hard! Time consuming yes. Methodical and gratifying? Also yes! Just turn up the music and have fun with it! And if you use this tutorial to hang your own wallpaper, tag me! I want to cheer you on!

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