Wallpaper Hanging Instructions from Steve's

Tools for Installing Wallpaper

Pre-pasted Wallpaper

  • Wallcovering water tray
  • Smoothing brush to smooth paper
  • Wallcovering seam roller
  • Cutting Tool (razor blade, snap blade or scissors)
  • Large surface to unroll paper
  • Screwdriver to remove outlet covers, take down blinds or curtain rods
  • Sponge, clean up cloths
  • Stepladder/step stool

Wallpaper Requiring Paste

  • All items required for Pre-pasted Wallpaper
  • Paste that is recommended for the wallpaper

Before Getting Started: Wall Preparation

New Drywall

Apply primer/sealer with a brush or roller. This provides a smooth even surface for the wallcovering to adhere to. Also, it will be easier to remove the wallcovering at a later date. Note that fresh plaster must be allowed to cure for 90 days before priming.

Previously Painted Walls

Fill cracks or holes with spackling compound. When dry, sand any rough spots until smooth. Lightly sand enameled surfaces. Be sure to clean walls with a bleach or ammonia and water solution. Then, apply a primer/sealer to the entire wall surface or over the spackled areas at a minimum. This will make the removal of the wallpaper at a later date much easier.

Previously Papered Walls

Remove old wallcoverings and sand surface area smooth. Removal tip: Use commercial wallpaper solution or mix a solution of fabric softener and hot water 1/2 and 1/2 and put in a spray bottle. Spray remover on old wallcovering that has been roughened to that the solution can soak in. Remove softened paper with a scraper. Clean walls with a bleach or ammonia and water solution. Apply a primer/sealer to the wall surface. All walls should be sized to maximize the slip. This allows for easier positioning of wallcoverings as it is being hung and makes it easier to remove at a later date.

Types of Match

Random/Free Match

Wallpaper with a random match have no design repeat, this means that it does not matter where you match the next strip of wallpaper, it will always continue the design. Textures, grasscloths, and stripes are all examples of patterns with a random match.

Drop Match

Wallpaper patterns with a drop match do not repeat across the width from strip to strip. The next strip will need to be dropped either a quarter or half of the repeat on the next strip to match the pattern from strip to strip. If you need to drop half of the repeat it is called a Half Drop and if you need to drop a quarter of the repeat it is a Quarter drop.

Straight Match

Wallpapers with a straight match have a pattern that is continued across the width of the wallpaper. This means that the pattern continues across the seam and matched to the same point of the pattern on the next strip.

Hanging the First Strip

Using a Plumb Line

Hanging the first strip straight is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a visually pleasing installation. Use a plumb line to make sure your first strip and those that follow are straight.

Choose an inconspicuous corner, preferably close to a window or door. Measure from the corner to a point 1/2” narrower than the width of the wallcovering. Then, drop a plumb line from that spot. When the line stops moving, hold it tightly at the baseboard with one hand and snap it with the other. The colored chalk line on the wall is now your starting point. For accuracy, snap a new line on each wall. This placement line will be where your first two strips of wallcovering meet. Note that some installers choose to draw this line on the wall using a level.

Cutting and Matching

Cutting Lengths

Carefully measure the height of the wall, and add an extra 2” top and bottom for final trimming. Cut your first strip. When using a set design motif, cut the first length of wallcovering so that after final trimming, the entire motif will be placed at the top of the wall.

Pattern Matching

Before cutting more strips remember to allow for the proper pattern match. Match dry strip to dry strip or wet to wet. Save remnants, they are often useful for small areas such as above windows and doors.

Un-Pasted and Pre-Pasted Wallcoverings

Pasting Un-Pasted Wallcoverings

Use the type of paste recommended in the instructions that came with the wallcovering. If no information is given, ask your retailer’s advice.

Brush or roll the back of the wallcovering with paste. Apply plenty to the edges. Fold the strip (or “book”) pasted side to pasted side, that is bring in both edges toward the middle.

Be careful not to crease the paper. Strips should be booked to allow for sufficient absorption of moisture and for the wallcovering to become supple. Approximate time is 3-5 minutes. Once again, see individual instructions for exact booking time.

Pre-pasted Wallcoverings

Fill water tray with luke-warm water and roll the strip pattern side in. Immerse in water tray for the time recommended in the instructions supplied in each roll. Then take the top end of the roll and pull sheet out of water allowing it to unroll as it is drawn from the tray. Book the strips as described in the previous paragraph. Change the water after every six strips.


Carry the folded strip to the wall. Check which is the top end of the strip, and holding the top corners, open the top fold and line up to the right of your plumb line. Establish your ceiling line and allow the 2” overlap. Smooth down the middle of the strip using a smoothing brush or soft sponge working out toward the edges removing the wrinkles and air bubbles as you go. Open the bottom fold and continue to smooth the strip into place.

Position the next strip on the wall and slide it precisely into position against the first piece so that the pattern matches at normal eye level. Butt edges, do not overlap. If need be, move entire piece by sliding it over. Do not push or pull seams into place. After you finish each strip, immediately sponge off any extra paste with clean water. Wipe paste off of ceiling and baseboards before it dries. Approximately 20 minutes after hanging, if necessary, use a seam roller to gently flatten the joints between strips.

To ensure your satisfaction, hang three strips and inspect for your overall approval. If there is a problem, stop hanging and contact your local retailer for advice.

After you have three strips up, trim them at the ceiling and baseboard using a broad knife or wall scraper as a guide and cutting, with a very sharp knife. Go slowly and change your blade often.


Hanging Corners

When you come to an inside corner, you will do some basic arithmetic, allowing you to cut the strip into two pieces, rather than wrapping the whole strip around the corner. This will result in a very neat installation.

First, measure the distance from the edge of the last strip that you have hung to the corner. Do this at several points between the ceiling and the baseboard. Determine the widest measurement.

Cut a strip of wallcovering 1/2” wider than the widest measurement. Save the remainder of the strip. Hang the first side into the corner and extend 1/2” around the corner onto the next wall. Measure the remaining strip for the second side. Use this width to establish a new plumb line on the second wall. Once hung, it will overlap the first strip into the corner. Match as closely as possible. Any slight paper mismatch will not be noticeable. Re-glue the overlap using vinyl-to-vinyl adhesive.

Outside corners Follow the same technique, although you should allow a wrap-round of at least 2”.

Doors and Windows

Hang wallcoverings right over the windows and doors. Then cut away excess with scissors, leaving a few inches of overlap all around. Make diagonal cuts into the corners and then smooth the wallcovering into the edge of the frame and trim as usual with your blade and straight edge.


Paper the ceiling before the walls. Apply the wallcovering strips across the narrow width of the room. Measure the width of the wallcovering roll and subtract 1/2”. Measure this distance from both corners of the short wall and insert tacks at these points. Tie chalk line to tacks and snap to create a guideline.

Measure and cut strips 4” longer than the length of the short wall. After pasting or immersing in water tray, fold and book the paper. Support the paper with a broom head (a partner may be needed here). Open the first fold, slide into position against guideline and smooth as usual. Unfold strip, fold by fold, and brush into position leaving 1/2” overlapping the wall on long, finished edge side, and 2” overlap on the short, cut edges of the paper.

Switch Plates & Electrical Outlets

Remember to turn off the electricity. Remove switch plates and outlet covers. Hang wallpaper and simply smooth strip gently over the outlet or switch area. With a sharp knife, pierce paper at the center of the fitting and make diagonal cuts toward each corner. Press paper against wall around edge. Trim away surplus. You can cover the outlets and switch plates with leftover wallcoverings.

Hanging Borders

Measure wall width corner to corner. Each border strip should extend to full width of wall plus 1/2” to extend around corners.

Submerge border in water tray for prescribed time, book by loosely folding accordion fashion, and apply to the wall. If the border is being applied over wallcovering, do not wet border but use a vinyl to vinyl adhesive. Hang border, wrapping corners by about 1/4”. Smooth as you go. Make sure you wipe with clean sponge to remove excess paste.

Repairing Damage

Cut a piece of extra wallcovering slightly larger than the damaged area. Paste it in place over the damaged spot, carefully matching the pattern. Using a straight edge and sharp blade, cut through both layers of wallcoverings around the damaged area. Remove excess paper and position new patch into the opening.

Click here to continue to measuring guide.