First of all, yes, you! You can absolutely wallpaper by yourself, and today I would like to share some helpful tips for making your first and each subsequent experience wallpapering on your own successful.
Once you have narrowed down the wallpaper you want to welcome into your space, whether it has a pattern to match or not, invested in as many rolls as necessary (I try to order at least one extra roll of paper if possible, as I tended to underestimate in my first few experiences), then the time has arrived for you to elevate the décor aesthetic of your room. Get excited! Your space is about to drastically and awesomely change.
Depending upon the size of your room, be realistic about how much you can complete in one day. For small rooms, such as my mudroom (seen above) – 8’ x 6’ in size – it took about seven or eight hours. By the time the final roll was being hung, I was exhausted but was determined to finish. Remaining alert and full of energy to do the job well is important, so don’t feel you have to rush to finish if your energy-levels are just not where you need them to be. In such cases, celebrate your progress by putting your feet up (your body will ache – shoulders, back, etc.) and enjoy a good meal and something delicious to sip. Take a restful night’s sleep and finish wallpapering the next day with your energy renewed.
Now to the 12 tips.
But first: I can honestly say, having completed my latest project in the mudroom, and seeing the finished space was inspiration to give me a boost of confidence for my next wallpaper project which hopefully will be later this month (the wallpaper is on its way now :)). So with that said, let’s boost your confidence so you can get started on that room you’ve been eager to wallpaper!
1.Prepare the room (walls, trim, etc.)
Six years ago I wrote a detailed post of my first wallpapering experience, in this instance with the help of one additional person (my mom, who had hung wallpaper before and was my guide). I shared specific steps for preparing walls that have already been previously wallpapered (my house that I owned previously was built in the 1930s), how to prepare any wall and what other steps to tend to prior to beginning the wallpaper process. As well, you can see the finished room wallpapered with Turner & Pocock Ibis wallpaper (a peek is shown below)!
2. Round up the proper tools
Being prepared with everything you will need to cut, measure, hang and finish the wallpaper is crucial and an easy preventative measure to take to ensure success. Below is a list of the items I used during my most recent wallpapering project this past January.
- a steel square
- measuring tape
- wallpaper paste
- wallpaper paste brush
- razors (to finish the edges after the paper is on the wall and in place)
- a bucket of water and rags/sponges
- wall covering smoothing tool
- drop cloth(s)
3. Start on the wall that is least often seen or will be covered up by décor or furniture
As you can see below, I began on a wall that was not seen from the main part of the house, nor a wall I would look at when I first returned home. The first piece usually hangs fairly easily because you are not matching it with anything except an edge. Leave a few inches above and below so you can neatly trim the top and bottom to fit perfectly.
4. Avoid ending/beginning in a corner
Typically, you won’t have to worry about the wallpaper miraculously ending in a corner, and the reason you do not want this is to provide a smooth, seamless space where the eye is naturally drawn.
5. Carefully place the wallpaper entirely into the corner
Using a wallpaper brush, gently push the paper into the corner. You will likely have to do this multiple times. Once the paper is indeed in the corner and not just sitting above it which could cause a hole to be punched through, then finish the rest of the wallpaper on the next wall that is connected to the corner.
6. Piecing together is okay in a fix (aka running out of wallpaper)
Mistakes will happen. You may mis-measure the wallpaper when trying to match the pattern and have to toss an entire panel as it will no longer fit. However, if you are nearing the end of your wallpaper, patching is not the worst thing that could happen. If you can place it on a part of the wall that is often not seen. Do your best to make the two pieces “kiss” each other, so no gap is seen, and only with the closest inspection will anyone ever notice.
7. Read the instructions carefully for your type of wallpaper
Most wallpapers are water resistant, enough so you can use a wet sponge to smooth. In other words, they won’t tear, bleed or be ruined with water. However, always check to make sure. Grasscloth, natural, for example, cannot have water used in this way, so always check. The description of each wallpaper should clearly state what you can do.
8. Replace or clean the razor after each cutting so it cuts smoothly each time.
To ensure clean lines when you are trimming your wallpaper (on the top, bottom or around windows and doors), clean and frequently replace the race in your handheld edging razor. You will quickly know if you haven’t as it will pull the wallpaper and tear it, leaving a jagged edge.
9. Measure long so you do not undermeasure and waste wallpaper
You will want to leave an inch or two above and below when you are cutting each panel, but don’t hesitate to measure longer than necessary to ensure, especially with prints, you cut enough.
10. Use paste generously
I shared this tip in the original post six years ago, but make sure you apply paste generously, and do not forget the edges. Granted, as you are smoothly the paper out, the paste will move from the middle to the edge, but making sure the edges are securely flattened and attached creates the finished look you want. I choose wallpaper paste that has a light pink hue to it so I can see exactly where I have put it on the back of the wallpaper. This helps to ensure all areas of the paper are covered.
11. Working around difficult/tricky areas (i.e. light sockets, etc.)
When it comes to light sockets and electrical outlets (by this point, the covers have been removed), go ahead and place the wallpaper over the socket/outlet. Since you will be cutting this paper away, don’t press down on this area or on the paper below or around the outlet. Take a scissors and nip a slice in the middle of the box carefully. Once you can see where all of the cords are, cut away enough of the paper that it cannot be seen when the cover is placed back on and it doesn’t interfere with any of the wiring.
12. Errors will happen, but only you will see them.
Inevitably, especially as you begin wallpapering, whether on your own or with someone else, you will make mistakes. I will confess right now, there is a slight punch-through in my first corner of my mudroom as I pushed too hard with my sponge cleaning the wallpaper off, not realizing I had not pushed it in enough. However, you cannot see it unless I point it out. When these mistakes happen, don’t worry. Learn from them and continue on. The more you wallpaper, the better you will become, but I can confidently say, you will be the only person who will know about these errors unless you bring others’ attention to them.
Adding wallpaper to a home is to give your sanctuary a personalized touch, a signature style, a warm hug of affection. Whether the walls are covered in a solid shade that adds a bit of texture or a brilliant print that dazzles the eye, what you choose is a reflection of what brings you comfort and brings beauty into the home on a daily basis.
Having worked only with patterns, my next wallpapering project will be grasscloth which is a unique paper in and of itself. Once I hang this wallpaper, I will be sure to share with you additional tips for successfully hanging this natural wallpaper that can bring warmth and a touch of sophistication to a space unexpectedly so.
Hopefully these tips are helpful to ease your mind that indeed you too can hang wallpaper all by yourself. Go forth and personalize your space! The smile that instantly comes to my face each time I see the yellow primroses in my mudroom is all the reason I needed to be assured I made the right decision. This is indeed Shannon’s home, and my choice of wallpaper, as it comes with its own story is to hang art in another way than in a frame.