How To Hang Wallpaper For Total Beginners

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How To Hang Wallpaper For Beginners!

Wallpaper installation wasn’t ever on my bucket list. Detailed projects that need to be perfect? Above my paygrade! I prefer to hire out.

But. But, but, but. 

Turns out, with a good wallpaper for your first time, you will actually find this easy. You CAN do totally install wallpaper by yourself without screwing it up!

The before and after transformation of our bedroom with our McGee and Co wallpaper is amazing! Our bedroom came alive!

a before and after with black floral wallpaper hanging in a bedroom

Time consuming? Yes, a half wall took me half a day start to finish. Difficult, make you hate yourself and everyone around you? Not at all.

How To Hang Wallpaper For People Who Hate Difficult Things

I’ll be sharing how to hang wallpaper and why it was easy for me – this is especially true if you have a small wall, like a feature wall! 

I did this on my own, with no help. My husband isn’t a jerk – but we have 4 kids, so someone had to keep them alive! 😉

If you are considering a similar project (especially if you have unpasted wallpaper – but either one works!) – you are going to LOVE this post! But before I share how to hang wallpaper…

Keep in mind, some material makes it really tricky to install (ahem, the Grasscloth Wallpaper in our old dining room). For your first time pick easy material – no fabric – with a simple washable pattern, so you can wipe it down if things get messy. Something like mine!

My wallpaper installation post may use affiliate links, which make me a small commission at no cost to you. This supports my blog so I can keep creating content. I hope you find this tutorial on how to hang wallpaper helpful!

black and white floral wallpaper installed in a bedroom

Black and White Wallpaper For Our Bedroom

I was so excited to see Studio McGee has a whole wallpaper line! They were kind enough to partner with me on this project. All opinions and design decisions are my own. 

I picked out the Juno wallpaper in black and white for our bedroom wallpaper – it is an absolutely gorgeous floral black and white wallpaper! It is pretty without being romantic.

My husband stays out of my design decisions, but he was not going to be happy with a flowery feminine wall in his room! For florals, I found this wallpaper to be just a bit… dare I say, masculine?

I liked that it is matte, still light and airy with a crisp white background (not creamy), and washable. Winner winner, put the wallpaper up before dinner! 

Juno wallpaper from Studio McGee on a wall

The wall does have two windows I had to cut around, but no light switches and smooth nontextured walls. Wallpaper installation was new to me… but looking at the flat, half wall… how hard could it be?

What’s The Difference: Prepasted Vs. Unpasted Wallpaper?

There are different kinds of wallpaper – unpasted vs. pasted wallpaper. Check the label on your wallpaper and find out what kind you have!

  • Prepasted wallpapers come with a cured adhesive already applied to the backing. The adhesive is activated by getting it wet (dunking it in warm water) 
  • Unpasted wallpapers do not have adhesive on the back, and require you to apply adhesive yourself to the paper in order for the wallpaper to stick to the wall.

The Juno wallpaper is unpasted – meaning, I was applying the paste myself!

a hand holding up a bucked of Roman pro 543 wallpaper adhesive

And One Last Thing – What Is Booking?

Some wallpapers expand up to 1/4 of an inch after the adhesive is applied. If you put the wallpaper on the wall before it expands, it will expand on the wall, causing it to bubble and wrinkle!

“Booking” just means folding the paper onto itself after the adhesive is applied (or after dunking it in warm water if you are working with prepasted) for several minutes. The back of the paper with glue lies folded over onto itself loosely, like a book. This allows the paper to expand.

Not all wallpapers require you to book. Mine did not!

Supplies:

You need a different type of adhesive if you are working with vinyl paper – check your wallpaper’s label! Always follow the manufacturer’s directions according to your specific type of paper.

  1. Wallpaper Adhesive Paste – exactly what I used and it’s great 
  2. Paste brush 
  3. Brand new razor blade (do not reuse an older blade)
  4. Putty knife to smooth or a roller (I prefer putty knife)
  5. Level
  6. Tape Measure
  7. Sharp scissors

Optional:

  1. wallpaper seam repair (I used this on a few small pieces of the edges that peeled back up because they were missing the adhesive)
  2. wallpaper primer (helps the wallpaper stick and helps with removal, I did not use)

a flatly of the 7 tools needed for when hanging wallpaper installation

How To Hang Wallpaper 

Let’s do it!

Prep Work!

Start with clean walls (water and regular soap work). Fill nail / tack holes with this fast drying spackle and lightly sand until smooth.

You need a flat surface to lay the wallpaper down for cutting each panel. I brought in my kids’ play table.

Probably a good idea to lay down a drop cloth or an old sheet to protect your floors in case some of the adhesive falls. Don’t be like me and skip this step.

Some people like to prime the wall first with a high quality primer, as it helps the wallpaper stick and apparently helps with removal. I didn’t bother. It is not necessary, just something you can do.

Cutting The First Piece

Find the center of your wall. Use a level and draw a straight plumb line (plumb means straight!) down the center of the wall. This is where your first roll will go- along the line!

(Walls aren’t straight, so don’t use a corner to butt your first piece against. It’s likely crooked.)

Step 1. Cut

I measured the height of the wall first, and then added 4 inches past where I wanted the panel of paper to end for a little excess, and made a straight cut using our sharpest scissors.

Step 2. Paste

If you have prepasted, this is where you would dunk your wallpaper into warm water (bathtub is fine). We didn’t have to do that.

Instead of using the table for slapping glue on the back, after a few tries, I found it SO MUCH EASIER to put the glue directly onto the wall instead of the paper. I measured the width of the roll for an estimation, then I just rolled the paste directly onto the wall! This made things go about 100 times easier, and faster too! 

You can NOT use this method if your paper requires booking- but no fear! You will put the adhesive onto the back of the paper and let it sit for a few minutes, allowing the paper to expand. See “What Is Booking?”, above.

Slap that baby up on the wall!

By slap I really mean line your wallpaper up against the straight line you drew on the wall, leaving about 2 inches of paper past the ceiling. Using the putty knife, press gently to crease it into the seam where your wall and ceiling join.a woman showing how to hang black and white wallpaper

Move down the wall, pressing the paper into the wall with the putty knife, making sure your wallpaper stays along the level along the line as you go! It helps to put the putty knife in the center and smooth towards the edges to release any wrinkles.

Don’t freak out if you get a wrinkle; it’s forgiving! All I did was gently lift up the wallpaper as far as you need to go, and then slowly put it back down, smoothing again from the center outward. 

My wallpaper is washable, so I wiped up any excess paste with a clean, dry rag.

Cut Ceiling And Edges

After a panel is up on the wall, just hold the putty knife against the ceiling/edge/baseboard, and then run your brand new razor blade along the edge to cut off the excess wallpaper. This is how I did the windows too. Just go gently.a woman showing how to hang wallpaper in a bedroom

Repeat

Match up the patterns! Sounds difficult, but it isn’t really. All I did was hold the wallpaper roll up to the first strip on the wall to find the match, and cut it again with 4 inches of excess. I slapped the paste up on the wall, and went to town.

Tip: After I put up a few rolls, I saw one or two places where tiny little edges of the paper had opened off the wall because it was missing paste. I gently moved the tip of the seam repair glue inside the paper, squeezed out a very small dot, and smoothed the paper out. Use sparingly.

Honestly, I was totally impressed with myself. I am not a DIY girl by any means, I get hot, flustered and tend to rush things…. which isn’t a good combination for installing wallpaper. This was not that difficult though!

Really, just pick a good simple paper for your first time, follow the directions here, and anyone can do this!

Now just step back and admire your gorgeous wallpaper job!black and white floral wallpaper on a bedroom wall black and white floral wallpaper in a bedroom

Shop The Room:

The one question that remains is how is it that I could get the wallpaper up in a half days work, but those frames on the wall are still empty? 😉

I hope you found this tutorial on how to hang wallpaper helpful!

You Might Also Like:

Our Bedroom Before The Wallpaper

a door opening into a neutral bedroom

Our Playroom

game table with a puzzle on it as part of playroom decor

Picking The Right Pillows For A Grey Couch

2 throw pillows on a sofa in the corner of a living room

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