Wallpaper Dos and Don’ts

Author: Alecia Pirulis

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  • Don’t begin with a bathroom or kitchen if you are a wallpaper novice. Even though they seem smaller, there are too many obstacles to work around, making it more difficult that a basic room.
  • Don’t choose a paper with a bold, bright, or busy pattern unless you are certain you can live with it for a very long time – once it is up, it is very difficult to take down. You can test out the paper by buying a sample roll. Don’t hang it – just tape or pin a large section to the wall and live with it for a few days.
  • Don’t buy wallpaper at different times. Each run’s colors will be slightly different, so you want them all from the same lot. Once you decide on the right paper, buy the wallpaper all at once, and buy more than you think you will need.
  • Don’t try to hang wallpaper all by yourself – you’ll need an extra pair of hands to help you with the hanging and smoothing.
  • Do gather your materials ahead of time. You’ll need a bucket of water, a dry towel, a wet sponge, a long tray, a putty knife, a seam roller, and a wallpaper smoother. You may also want a pair of scissors, a utility knife, a level, and a measuring tape.
  • Do set up a work table – a sheet of plywood set over sawhorses is a good idea so you can roll the paper out and cut it easily.
  • Don’t use newspaper to cover the table – the ink will transfer to your wallpaper and ruin it.
  • Do move furniture to the center of the room if necessary and cover it.
  • Don’t rely on your ceiling and walls to be your guide – houses rarely have perfect angles.
  • Do prime your walls with an oil-based primer, especially if your walls are new.
  • Do fill the tray with tepid water and soak the paper in the tray until there are no more air bubbles – roughly 15-20 seconds. Make sure the water completely covers the paper.
  • Do use your level to draw a plumb line down the wall and use this as a guide.
  • When hanging, don’t move the wallpaper around too much. You could end up stretching it and the pattern won’t line up properly.
  • Do check the corners for wrinkles. If you see one, cut a slit in the paper with your scissors and smooth it out.
  • Don’t assume the wallpaper doesn’t have bubbles – it does. Use the wallpaper smoother in long vertical strokes, working toward the edge.
  • Do use a damp sponge to wipe up excess glue as you hang your paper. The sponge will also work to smooth the wrinkles and bubbles out of the paper.
  • Do try to match seams and make sure the pattern lines up exactly. Don’t cut the paper to the exact size – you’ll want extra in case you have to move the paper up or down to match the pattern. Use the utility knife to trim the paper from the top and bottom.
  • Do press the seams together with the seam roller about 15 minutes after hanging. Let the wallpaper dry overnight, keeping the room cool and free from humidity.