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How to Hang Wallpaper

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Hanging wallpaper is a great alternative to painting a room. While it's possible to paint complex styles and designs, the task requires a great deal of skill and time. Wallpaper allows you to have a distinct and complex design, but is a much easier and less time consuming project. Just stop by your local home improvement store to pick out a design. Then, read this guide for tips on hanging wallpaper.

Prepare the Room

It's important to start by laying out the room, especially if your wallpaper has some kind of dominant element (i.e., a picture or design that will be the focal point). Choose a wall on which to center this element. Measure the height and width of the wall so that you can mark its midpoint.

Then, cut a short strip of wallpaper and center the dominant element over the midpoint. Then, mark the wall at the leading edge of the paper. Draw a plumb line at that mark, using a level.

Estimate the rest of the wallpaper seam locations by cutting two more pieces of wallpaper and pasting them on the wall, edge to edge. Mark each leading edge. Pull up the paper and re-adhere it in the next section, repeating the process until you've marked around the whole room.

Now you can cut your first full-length strip, making sure the dominant element is at the center and that you have one inch of overhang at the top and bottom of the paper.

Hanging Wallpaper

To prep the paper, roll it out facedown on a long worktable. Use a 3/8-inch-nap paint roller to spread wallpaper paste evenly onto the back of the paper. Fold both ends of the paper into the middle, carefully aligning the edges and not creasing the paper. This is called "booking" and allows the adhesive to activate. Let it sit for 3 to 5 minutes.

Some paper will come pre-pasted. With this, you'll need to loosely roll the strip up, adhesive side out, and immerse in lukewarm water (follow the manufacturers instructions for this part). Book the paper as described above and allow it to sit for 3 to 5 minutes.

Keeping the strip booked, bring it to the marked midpoint of the wall. Unfold the top half, align the edge with the plumb line, and stick it to the wall so that the dominant element of the paper is centered on the midpoint. If you measured and cut the paper correctly, you should have one inch of overlap at the top of the ceiling.

Use a moist sponge to smooth out the edges of the paper. Then, brush the paper lightly with the sponge from the center to the edges of the paper. Next, you'll need to smooth the paper out with a wallpaper smoother. Pull the smoother across the paper to get rid of any wrinkles and to fully adhere the paper to the wall. Unfold the lower half of the strip and repeat the smoothing process. Use a razor knife to trim the excess paper at the top and bottom of the strip. Use a 6-in putty knife to hold the wallpaper to the wall while you trim; this will prevent tearing.

Repeat all of these steps with each piece of wallpaper, carefully aligning the pattern as you go.

Dealing with Corners

You'll actually overlap strips when you do corners.

For inside corners: Measure the distance from the leading edge of the last strip you put up to the corner of the wall (do this is three places, at the top, bottom, and center of the wall). Cut the next piece so it's 1/8 of an inch wider than your largest measurement. Hang this piece so that the cut edge turns the corner and goes onto the adjacent wall, fitting as tightly into the corner as possible. The edge of the next strip will go into the corner, overlapping the previous strip. As usual, align the patterns.

For outside corners, the process is generally the same, except, instead of cutting the piece 1/8 of an inch wider than your measurement, cut it 1/4 of an inch wider. Also, when you apply the second strip, overlap the first, but don't go all the way to the corner. Leave a little bit of space. This will prevent the strip from being peeled up if someone or something bumps into it.

Dealing with Windows, Doors, and Other Obstacles

When you hang a strip of wallpaper adjacent to a window, door, outlet, baseboard, etc., you'll need to trim around it. Allow the strip to overhang the obstacle. Then, use scissors or a razor knife to cut along the obstacles edge, using a putty knife to hold the paper in place on the wall. Use the smoother to smooth the paper, butting it up against the obstacles edge. If there's any additional overlap after doing this, trim it off.

If you have any headers or footers, installing them will be your last step. Just measure, cut, and book each strip as you go along, making sure, of course that the strip is level and that you match up patterns. Then, all that's left to do is stand back and admire your handiwork!

Adam Mandelbaum  Posted by Adam Mandelbaum on January 7, 2013

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