Written exclusively for Inside & Out by House of Brinson
Wallpaper is a wonderful addition that adds drama and texture to any room. But where do you start to learn how to hang wallpaper? How much of a DIY is hanging wallpaper? I’ve hung wallpaper in all of our apartments and now our new house (see the final result here). Even though we had to remove two layers of old paper through out our entire house, I still love wallpaper!
If you have to remove wallpaper, these tips should help.
• First, get some good music. Removing wallpaper takes a while. It might feel like forever, but the hard work is worth it.
• Get the right tools. A wallpaper scorer will put tiny holes in the wall paper you want to remove, helping steam or paste remover work faster. This is a must have.
• Depending on your wall type you’ll need wallpaper paste remover to help dissolve the glue, and/or a steamer. We used an industrial garment steamer which worked really well. If you have drywall, go light on the steam, it can ruin your walls if they get too wet. But if you have plaster, steam away. Some rooms required only steam, and others worked faster with the paste remover. It really depends on the paper that’s being removed.
Hanging New Wallpaper
Items to consider before starting.
• If you don’t want to do a whole room, consider papering a feature wall. This is easier for DIY and on the wallet. You don’t have the turn corners when hanging, it’s pretty straight forward. Some wallpaper can really add up and become expensive. Papering one wall helps with cost and you still get all the impact.
• When selecting a wallpaper design, consider scale (make sure you order a sample or see the paper in person). Large scale patterns in smaller spaces can add drama and create interest. Or a small scale in a large space can create visual texture. Think about the design impact and scale. Is the paper a traditional design but the scale is huge, modernizing the way the paper looks? I love that many wallpaper designers are modernizing how we think about using wallpaper in our homes.
• If you are hanging the wallpaper yourself, research how easy or hard it is to hang. I put some of my experience below, and some tips for buying wallpaper that is within your skill set. Hanging wallpaper is a two person job, make sure you have a DIY partner you communicate well with, cause that wallpaper paste dries fast!
Terms to know when selecting wall paper.
• Unpasted vs pasted. When I was a kid I only remember wallpaper coming with glue on the back, but now I realize you can get unpasted (no glue) paper too. Most of the papers I like are unpasted, coming from small makers or British manufactures. Some companies recommend you apply the glue to the back of the paper and in other cases you can apply the glue right to the wall. I find applying the glue to the wall pretty easy.
• Untrimmed paper. I was recently fawning over this European paper and when I read the specs I realized it was untrimmed, meaning on the left or right side of the paper length has to be cut before hanging. I’m pretty handy and have a lot of experience working with wall paper, but I will not take on untrimmed wall paper as a DIY. There is too much room for error and the wallpaper is too expensive to mess up. Hire a pro for this one.
• Weight of paper. I find heavier weights of paper easier to hang. They don’t wobble around as much and hold their shape when aligning the pattern. If you are a beginner, consider starting with a heavier weight.
• Repeat. The larger the repeat the more waste you have. When calculating the amount of paper you need and how much your project will cost. Larger scale patterns tend to have larger repeats. I personally love a large scale pattern, it so unexpected when you enter a room! Also with advanced digital printing, I recently hung wallpaper that had very little waste (see photo above — that’s all that was left!) because each strip was custom printed, so they calculated where the repeat was going to align. I was really impressed with the price, plus very little waste was created! If you see a paper is printed digital, it’s a good thing.
Things you should know before starting to hang your wallpaper.
• Start rested. You heard me correctly! You will be doing math, and cutting with a razor blade and standing in awkward positions on a ladder. Start rested and take a break every four strips of so.
• Have all your supplies handy.
• Have two ladders, just in case.
• Plastic fold out table, or work table is helpful. We have a few of those plastic 4 x 8 ft tables in our basement. It’s so nice to have a dedicated work surface you know is clean.
• Don’t hold back on the amount of wallpaper paste you use, be generous.
• Only use sharp razor blades/box cutters to trim paper. I recently hung 12 panels and changed my blade four times. If the blade is not sharp it will drag the paper creating a cut that is not clean. Have extra blades handy.
• Talk about your work process before you start. You can always change it, or make adjustments. What do I mean by this? We normally have a person hold the top, close to the ceiling, and a person on the bottom, closer to the floor. The person at the top aligns the pattern middle-ish, and then the person on the bottom starts below that working their way to the floor, while the person at the top continues to the ceiling. When we first started we didn’t establish where the start point was and who was going to align first. Talk about being uncoordinated! Discuss how you will work together before you start. Trust me on this, it will make the whole experience better.
Feeling inspired to hang wallpaper? Check out House of Brinson’s amazing final wallpapered room here.