How to Hang Wallpaper and Borders

A few guidelines and tips on do it yourself wallpapering

You will need:
  • Tape Measure

  • Drop Cloth

  • Sandpaper

  • Vinyl Wall Sizing

  • Level

  • Pencil

  • Straight Edge

  • Trimming Knife

  • Large Table or Smooth Surface

  • Paint Roller

  • Water Tray

  • Step Ladder

  • Brush or Plastic Smoother

  • Sponge

  • Seam Roller

Before you start:

Turn off electrical power and remove all switch plates and outlet covers.

Remove old wallpaper.

Fill in any holes or cracks with spackling compound.

Sand the walls, removing any paste residue or excess spackle.

The walls should be smooth and clean.Gloss paint must be sanded to a dull surface.

It's a good idea to sand down the walls even if wallpapered to insure removal of any imperfections.

Wash walls with a mild detergent to remove any dirt or dust created from sanding and allow to dry thoroughly.

For newly painted or spackled walls should be covered with a primer-sealer and let dry for 24 hours.

Completely cover walls with vinyl wall sizing to insure that the wallpaper will easily slide when positioning each sheet.

Sizing also helps prevent air pockets.

Before hanging, check the pattern and run or dye lot numbers on each bolt to make sure they are all the same.

Completely read the manufacturer's instructions.

Check each bolt for printing and shading defects.

Save labels and packaging information in case you need to buy more wallpaper


Start with the least noticeable wall. Measure out from the corner and mark the wall the width of the paper minus 1/2 inch. Place a level at the mark and draw a straight, vertical line (plumb line). This will be a guide for where your first two strips will meet. The success of your job depends on having the first strip straight. Follow this procedure every time you reach a corner or start a new wall. Go around the room and mark where each strip will end to keep track of the number of strips needed. This will also help avoid ending with a narrow strip that would be difficult and wasteful to hang. Catching this in advance will allow you to adjust your starting point


Unroll part way and hold the first roll of wallpaper against the wall to determine where you want the pattern to fall at the ceiling line. Mark the spot with a pencil on the back of the roll (try beginning with a full design at the ceiling). Cut the first strip with a straight edge. Leave about 2 extra inches at the top and bottom for trimming.

For unpasted products, place the strip pattern side down on a large table. With a paint roller or wide brush, lightly and gently, coat the back of the strip with the paste recommended by the manufacturer. (Skip to Step 5)

For prepasted products, cover the table with a drop cloth and fill a water tray 2/3 full with water at room temperature. Roll the cut strip from bottom to top, paste side out. Submerge the rolled strip into the water tray. Gently press the roll until all air bubbles have stopped. Soak for the amount of time recommended in the manufacturer's hanging instructions. Holding the top of the sheet, slowly lift and unroll the paper, making sure the back is completely wet.
Note: You can add a prepaste activator to the water for added adhesion.


"Book" the paper for about 3-5 minutes by folding the top half to the middle of the sheet, paste to paste, and the bottom to middle, paste to paste, keeping the edges aligned. Gently roll up the wet, booked strip, being careful not to crease the strip. Booking allows the adhesive to activate and the paper to relax and return to its original width.


Unbook the top half of the strip placing the marked spot at the top of the wall, letting the excess paper overlap the ceiling and adjoining wall. Slide the paper into position so it aligns with the plumb line. Using a brush or smoothing tool, gently press the strip against the wall. Be careful not to stretch the wallpaper while positioning. Unbook the bottom half and smooth into place. Keep your hands wet. Tap the strip into the corners, against the ceiling and along the baseboard. Snip a diagonal cut into the corners at the ceiling and baseboard, and smooth the extra 1/2 inch onto the adjoining wall. Smooth the entire strip, working diagonally from the top down and from the center outward, forcing out air bubbles. If air bubbles still exist, or if the paper doesn't appear straight, gently pull back the sheet and re-smooth. Wash off the excess paste with a wet sponge immediately. If a bubble appears that won't smooth, poke it with a pin before it dries and gently work the air out through the pin hole.


Using the wall scraper as a guide, trim the excess paper along the ceiling and baseboard with a sharp razor knife. If the paper begins to tear, wait 5 minutes and retry. An inexpensive breakaway knife can be purchased at local hardware stores. Wash paste off ceiling and baseboards with a wet sponge, changing water frequently.


Using the same procedure, cut and apply the second strip, matching the pattern to the first strip. Butt the edges tightly together, but don't overlap the strips.
After hanging 2-3 strips, check for pattern and color inconsistencies.
Make a new plumb line on each new wall.


Wait 15 minutes and go over the seams with a seam roller.Make sure you don't stretch or overwork the seams, forcing out the adhesive. Don't use a seam roller on embossed vinyl.


To hang around doors, you can pre-cut the strip to fit, but it's tricky. Instead, hang the entire strip of paper and smooth into place to the edge of the window or door frame.
Make diagonal cuts (miter cuts) in the wallpaper at the door or window frame corners and allow the paper to separate and lay smoothly against the wall.Smooth the paper around the frame as you go along. Trim the excess paper around the frame with the knife and straight edge.


Remember, electrical power should be off! Paper over light switches and outlets. With a razor knife, cut and trim an area slightly smaller than the switch or outlet cover. Replace outlet covers and switch plates when finished.


Follow the same steps as hanging wallpaper, however, soak the rolled border in cool water for only 20 seconds and don't book for more than 3 minutes. Fold the border accordion style for easy handling. Follow the ceiling line around the room, allowing 1/2 inch overlap at corners.Use vinyl-to-vinyl or border adhesive for applying a border over vinyl wallpaper.Secure the overlap with vinyl-to-vinyl adhesive.When applying over painted walls, lightly sand slick walls before applying the border.
To hang around a window or door frame, overlap the horizontal and vertical strips at the corners. Double cut through both strips at a 45 degree angle at the corner and remove excess pieces.


Remember to hang the paper right side up. Hold the strip up to the wall to see how the pattern flows. A good rule of thumb is that flowers grow up. Patterns rarely match exactly along the entire seam (due to uneven walls), so match your pattern at eye level.
At corners, cut a dry strip to extend one inch around the corner. Once applied, draw a plumb line on the next wall and apply the remaining portion of the strip, fitting it into the corner to overlap the previous strip.
Use the same procedure for outside corners, however trim the strip on the adjoining wall so the edge is 1/2 inch before the corner to avoid peeling. For perfectly vertical walls, you can wrap the entire strip around the corner, carefully avoiding air pockets.