Most people believe that putting up wallpaper is inherently difficult. While this is sometimes true, it doesn’t have to be if you prepare beforehand. Learning how to wallpaper yourself can save thousands of dollars compared to the cost of hiring a crew to do it for you. And it is certainly cheaper than hiring a team to strip off old paneling, sheetrock, or plaster walls.
To save money, here’s how to hang wallpaper, step-by-step, the easy way.
1. Choose Your Wallpaper
It should be no surprise, but not all wallpaper is created equal. In general, you get what you pay for. This vinyl wallpaper, for example, is dead-simple to hang due to the “paste the wall” design. Some wallpapers are a little trickier to hang because you have to coat the wallpaper, which introduces problems with the paper sticking to itself, becoming wrinkled before it gets on the wall, and so on.
Now, aside from the type of wallpaper, you have several other options to consider. For example, color, texture, material, and thickness. A lot of your choice will come down to your room, what you want it to look like, how much you can afford, and how long you want the paper to last.
Thicker paper tends to last longer, but certain materials will be inherently stronger, like vinyl, for example.
2. Prep The Area
Prepping the area is probably the most important part of the job. If you screw this up, you’ll never get your paper to hang properly and it’s going to look god-awful (plus, you’ll have wasted a ton of money and time). So, the two things you absolutely must do first are:
3. Read the instructions
Now, your first instinct will be to just sling some glue all over the back of the wallpaper and have at it; resist the urge. There are a lot of people out there that hate reading instructions. Those people have ugly walls. If you don’t want to be one of those people, take a few minutes and make sure you understand how your manufacture’s wallpaper is hung.
The better wallpapers out there allow you to paste the wall instead of the wallpaper, which cuts down on the frustration when trying to slap the paper up. You’re not fighting wet paper (which inevitably falls into your face when trying to paper 10’ walls) or racing against the clock to get everything hung before the glue dries.
4.Prepare the wall
When prepping the wall, always turn off the electricity, remove wall plated, wall fixtures, outlet plated, and anything else that might get in your way. Remove decorative crown molding too if you want the paper to have a “countersunk” feel at the top of the wall.
In most homes, it’ll look nice to have the wallpaper tucked underneath the molding. Any holes or cracks have to be repaired before you wallpaper. A lot of people think they can just cover them up. This is wrong. Cracks will be the first point of failure in the paper. If there’s any mold, kill it with a mixture of two cups of bleach per gallon of water. When the wall is dry, you’re good to go with a stain killer or primer – Kilz is a good brand that’s cheap and will do the job.
Scrape and sand off any old wallpaper, getting the wall as smooth as humanly possible. If you have painted walls, do the sponge test. Hold a damp sponge against the painted surface for about 15 seconds.
If you remove the sponge and there’s a little bit of paint on the sponge, you’re fine. If a lot of paint starts coming off, it’s time to sand the whole wall down to the drywall and start over.
For newly-hung drywall, make sure that all of the joints and nail heads are covered and thoroughly cured. Paint the bare drywall with primer.
If you’re got rough surfaces you’re trying to hang over, like stone or brick, use a wall liner. You’re papering over paneling, fill in the grooves first and prime the surface.
5. Determine The Amount Of Paper You Need
The amount of paper you need depends on the size of the wall you’re papering (naturally). Measure the length of the wall, and find the total square footage of it. If you’re buying American-made, you’ll find more manufacturers have about 36 square feet of paper for single rolls. Double rolls are 72. Triple rolls are 108 sq ft. Metric or euro-rolls are 29 sq ft per roll, with double rolls being 58. if your pattern repeats every 6”, then your roll will yield about 25 sq ft. If it repeats every 7” to 12”, you’ll get 22 sq ft out of it.
6. Mark Everything Before You Hang
Mark all of your baseboards (if you’re not removing them), windows, and anything else. Start near doors, windows, and anything else that isn’t moveable. It’ll make the break in the pattern less noticeable.
7. Cut and Hang
Cut your wallpaper to the specs you already calculated, paste the wall (hopefully you bought “paste the wall” type paper), and hang the paper. Cut your strips of wallpaper into manageable widths, keeping in mind that the first strip will determine the placement of everything that follows. Align the second strip with the first. Keep going until you’re done.
Debra Joyner is a home improvement associate who contributed this post. She has a penchant for all things wallpaper and likes to share her experiences online. Look for her articles on many home improvement and DIY websites.