How to wallpaper for beginners

Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Hanging wallpaper is not difficult, but it can be tedious and intimidating if you've never attempted it before. The key to hanging wallpaper properly and without a lot of errors is preparation.

For example, measuring and cutting your strips beforehand saves time, and it prevents frustrating errors when the wallpaper is already on the wall. Wallpapering takes patience for anyone, but knowing a few simple tips and tricks a beginner can successfully re-paper a room.

Remove old wallpaper and wash the walls with a damp cloth to prepare the surface.

Sand away bumps and imperfections in the wall with fine-grit sandpaper. These will show through some wallpaper materials and may cause bubbling or cracking later on.

Apply a wallpaper primer to the wall. This is not necessary to hang wallpaper, but it prevents damage to the wall should you decide to remove the paper later and allows you more time to position the paper on the wall when wallpapering.

Lay a plumb line or a level on the wall vertically and snap a chalk line near each corner to create a straight guide for hanging. Some walls are slightly off-centre and following the ceiling may result in crooked wallpaper.

Measure the wall from top to bottom with a measuring tape and add about 4 inches to that measurement. This is the strip length you'll need for each piece. Often it's helpful to cut one piece to use as a sample for cutting the remaining strips, but you can measure each piece with the measuring tape as well.

Cut your first piece using a utility knife and a straightedge.

Lay the strip with the backside up on a long table or on a clean floor and apply paste with a small brush beginning at the middle and moving out to both ends until you've covered the entire piece. Prepare only what you can hang in 15 minutes. If it sits too long, the paste may dry before you are able to properly hang the wallpaper.

Fold the strips over each end loosely toward the middle without creasing the paper. This is called booking. Once you've booked a strip, you must hang it as soon as possible or the glue will dry.

Unfold the top half of the strip and align it with the edge of your chalk line. Smooth the edges using a wallpaper smoother, which you can purchase at any paint or hardware store, beginning at the middle and working outward.

Continue to smooth out the strip, working downward until the entire strip is firmly applied to the wall.

Prepare the next strip of wallpaper, but when you apply it to the wall line the pattern of the previous strip and the new strip up so that the edges are against each other or slightly overlapped.

Repeat with the remaining strips until the wall is covered.

Trim away excess paper at the ceiling and baseboards using a utility knife and a straightedge.

Smooth seams with a seam roller. If the paper is embossed or textured, use a cloth to smooth the seams instead to avoid damaging the texture.