How to Apply New Wallpaper Like a Pro

Christmas is a time for giving, so if your home is in need of some TLC why not give your bedroom or living room a fresh new makeover. At HSS, our Professional Wallpaper Stripper is the perfect tool to remove all types of wallpaper, vinyl, wood chip and decorative wall coverings to leave a clean surface, without damaging the plaster.

If you’ve decided to add wallpaper to your home’s décor, you may be wondering how to apply it like a pro. How can you make sure it hangs straight and evenly and is smooth, without any bumps or air bubbles? The idea of hanging your own wallpaper can seem daunting, but these steps can make the process a snap.

Prepare the Walls

Before you start hanging wallpaper, your walls need to be ready. To prep the walls clear the room and cover the floor with a drop cloth. Then, remove any outlet covers, nails, hooks and light fixtures from the walls; use a damp cloth to clean them and remove any dirt or dust.

If the walls you are covering have any bumps or dents, they will show through the wallpaper. In fact, these kinds of imperfections are more visible through wallpaper than paint, so it’s important that you take care of them before you hang the paper and that the walls’ surfaces as smooth as possible before you start hanging paper.. Use a palm sander to smooth out bumps and spackling to fill any holes or dents. If it is an old wallpaper you are trying to remove, you can use a wallpaper stripper as an effective way to get rid of any type of wallpaper.

Don’t forget to remove dust after you make repairs. Dust on the walls will make it nearly impossible for you to apply wallpaper smoothly and may even make it difficult for the paper to adhere to the wall.

To ensure the wallpaper sticks to your walls securely, you need to cover them with a coat of oil-based primer. Primer prepares the wall’s surface so the paper can “grip” it. When the primer is completely dry, you are ready to hang the wallpaper.

Preparing Prepasted and Unpasted Wallpaper

It is always wise to buy a little more wallpaper than you need. This way you’ll have extra sheets in case you make a mistake and you will have extra paper to repair tears or holes.

Set up a long table in the room where you can work with the paper as you prepare and hang it. Measure the walls and then cut the wallpaper to fit, adding 15cm in length and about 2cm in width where it will need to go around an inside corner or create a “lap seam”.

There are two kinds of wallpapers: prepasted wallpaper and unpasted wallpaper. The prepasted one comes with glue applied to one side of the paper, which you will need to activate; unpasted paper does not come with glue, so you will need to apply paste to it.

Prepasted Wallpaper

To activate the paste on the back of prepasted wallpaper, you will need to soak it in water. Fill a wallpaper tray with lukewarm water and loosely roll the paper with the paste-side facing out. Immerse the roll in the water, release any air bubbles and then let the paper soak for 15 to 30 seconds, as per the directions that came with the paper.

Some brands of wallpaper will include instructions that tell you to hang the paper directly after soaking it. If this is the case, place the tray of water at the base of the wall so you can easily and quickly apply it to the wall as you remove it from the water. To make this easier, roll the paper so that the top edge is on the outside of the roll.

If the directions that came with your wallpaper tell you to “book” the paper, slowly remove the paper from the water and lay it face down on the table. Then, without creasing it, fold the bottom half of the sheet about halfway over itself. Do the same with the top half, bringing it down to meet the bottom half. Then, loosely roll the paper and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes, or as long as directed by the manufacturer, before you hang it.

Unpasted Wallpaper

If you need to apply paste to the back of the wallpaper, lay the cut pieces face down on the table. It’s a good idea to make sure the patterns are all facing the same direction, so when the time comes to hang the paper you won’t have to re-orient it. Apply the paste according to the brand’s instructions, book it (if directed to do so), let it rest and then hang it on the wall.

Hanging the Wallpaper

Make a small pencil mark about 1cm from the inside of the corner where you want to start hanging paper. Then, using a level and a yardstick, make a line all the way down the wall. Start hanging the wallpaper at the top of the wall, leaving a few centimetres of leeway at the top and following the pencil line.

Press the paper against the wall and use a wallpaper brush to the smooth it and apply it to the wall. Use vertical strokes as you smooth because horizontal strokes can stretch the paper, which can distort the pattern. As you smooth the paper, remove bumps and bubbles. Then, use a wallpaper sponge to remove excess glue.

As you continue hanging strips of paper, line them up with the edge of the last piece and make sure the pattern is continuous, so the seams are invisible. When it’s time to cut the edges off, use a straightedge to hold the wallpaper into the corner where the wall meets the ceiling or floor, then use a utility knife to cut along the bottom of the straightedge.

After you have applied the wallpaper and cut off the edges, let it set for about 15 minutes. Then, use a seam roller along the seams to press them together.

Adding wallpaper to a room is a great way to add visual interest and a contrasting element to any space. Consider applying paper to just one or two walls in a room and experimenting with different colours and patterns to enhance a room’s design.

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About the Author

Lauren King

Lauren works in our Ecommerce Team, with over 6 years of experience at HSS. She brings product knowledge and is able to give her advice on the right tool for the job no matter how big or small.

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