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Ideas & How To's

How To Hang Wallpaper

Learn to hang wallpaper like the pros. Seabrook provides all the wallpaper instructions you need from wallpapering tips including how to buy wallpaper to cutting, pasting and matching wallpaper patterns and borders.

What You Need:

-Wall prep Materials
You may need some or all of the following: Sandpaper, Spackling Compound, Putty Knife, Oil Base Primer/Sealer, Wallpaper Sizing, Paint Roller and Tray, Paint brush, Wallpaper Remover (chemical enzyme), Drop Cloth

-Hanging Materials
You may need some or all of the following: Plumb Bob or Level, Pencil, Water Tray, Wallpaper Adhesive, Paint Roller and Tray, Paint Brush, Table or Work Surface, Drop Cloth, Razor Knife, Scissors, Straight Edge, Smoothing Brush or Tool, Seam Roller, Sponge or Soft Rag, Bucket, Clean Water.

Before You Start:


  • Your walls must be prepared to receive wallcovering. Properly prepared walls are the foundation for a good job. Most walls need some prep - even those in new homes. The time you spend preparing the surface will make the hanging of the wallpaper easier and will ensure more satisfactory and long lasting results.

  • Always check the instructions included with your wallcovering for the manufacturer's recommendations.

  • Before beginning any surface prep, remove all nails, screws, electrical plates and any other wall fixtures. You should also remove old wallcovering. Make sure the surface is free of any loose paint, mildew, grease, or stains.

  • New walls should have a primer/sealer. This seals the wall and creates a smooth surface. The primer should be white pigmented because colored primers could bleed through the wallcovering. Follow the manufacturer's directions for drying and curing, then apply a wallpaper sizing solution (available at all home decorating stores) which makes it easier to hang and position the wallpaper. It also makes it easier to remove it later when the time comes. Allow the sizing to dry for about 30 minutes before hanging the wallpaper.

  • Previously papered walls should be stripped and the walls should be cleaned with a mild detergent solution or adhesive remover. Rinse with clear water and let dry. Apply a wallpaper sizing solution which makes it easier to hang and position wallpaper. It also makes it easier to remove it later. Note: It is always best to remove old wallcovering. If this is not possible, be sure that the old wallcovering is tightly secured to the wall. Sand the seams, then prime with an oil-base primer and after drying to manufacturer's recommendations, apply a wallpaper sizing solution. This will make it easier to hang and position the wallpaper. It also makes removal easier.

  • Previously painted walls should have any rough spots scraped or sanded. Holes and cracks should be filled with spackling compound. Let dry and sand smooth. Apply an oil-base primer to spackled areas and let dry. If your walls have glossy paint, sand with fine grit sandpaper and rinse to remove residue. Let dry and apply a wallpaper sizing that will make it easier to hang and position the wallpaper. It also makes it easier to remove.

Get Ready, Establish a Plumb line:


  • Before you begin, read the manufacturer's instructions. Check to be certain that you received the correct pattern. You should also make sure that the run numbers or dye-lots are the same.

  • You must first establish a plumb line, which is a straight vertical line. Most homes have settled, and the floors and ceilings are not always "plumb". This step is very important and will ensure that you hang the strips straight. You should repeat this as you begin each new wall. There is more than one way to establish a plumb line. Here are a few suggestions: Use a chalked line with a plumb bob (available at home decorating and hardware stores), or a level and a pencil.

  • With each of these methods you will need to start by measuring the width of you wallpaper. Choose an inconspicuous corner, preferably one behind a door (this is your starting point, and therefore also your ending point). It is usually best to work around the room clockwise (or to the right). Measure out from the starting corner the width of your wallpaper minus ½ inch and mark the wall (at the top if you are using the plumb bob). If your room has a definite focal point, such as a fireplace, you may want to position the first strip so that a prominent section of the design is centered over the mantel. If so, Hang this strip first, then work towards your inconspicuous start/stop point. Then return to the first (focal) strip and continue in the other direction - again ending at the start/stop point.

  • Now, place either the chalk line and plumb bob or the level on this mark and make a vertical line on the wall. This line is the edge you will use as a guide to hang your first strip of wallpaper. Approximately ½ inch will wrap into the corner and onto the next wall. The wrapped portion is where you will end up as you work your way around the room.

Measuring:


  • Walls are seldom exactly the same height all the way around a room, so you must take several measurements and find the maximum height. Add four inches (two for the top and two for the bottom); you'll need this extra for any unevenness and for trimming at the top and bottom of the walls.

  • If your wallpaper has a noticeable pattern, you may want to hold the roll of paper to the wall before cutting the first strip to determine the best placement of the major design motif.

Cutting and Pasting:


  • You are now ready to cut your first wallpaper strip.
  • Almost all patterns are designed with basic repeats and matches. Be sure the second strip matches the first at the top and bottom before you cut, and remember to leave some extra length at the top and bottom for trimming. When you hang the first strip, use the second strip to determine the match point and then cut the next strip. You will now be ready to hang the second strip. Continue in this way as you work around the room.
  • There are three basic types of wallcoverings: "Prepasted", "Unpasted", and "Paste the Wall". Each requires a different hanging technique.
  • Prepasted (most wallpaper is prepasted):
    • Place a water tray half full of water (use the temperature specified in the directions) at the foot of a work surface or table.

    • Loosely roll the wallpaper strip (that you have cut to size) with the pattern side in.

    • Dip the strip in the water and leave for the length of time recommended in the manufacturer's instructions. Do not leave the wallcovering in the water longer than suggested or the paste may wash away.

    • When pulling the strip out of the water, check for any dry spots and wet them immediately.

    • Lift the strip out of the water and lay it out paste side up on the table or other flat work surface.

    • "Book" the strip by gently folding the pasted side of the strip to the pasted side. This is best performed by bringing the ends of the strip to meet in the middle - paste to paste. Do not crease the folded ends. Leave the strip in this position for the manufacturer's recommended amount of time - for a maximum of three minutes. (Booking ensures that the paste has been given time to activate and allows the wet strip to expand before being applied to the wall. If the strip is not given time to expand, it may do so on the wall, which will cause your seams to overlap.)

    • The water in the water tray should be changed often (every 2 to 4 strips) to avoid transferring paste residue to the surface of the wallcovering.
  • Unpasted:
    • Lay your first strip of wallcovering on your table or work surface and use a paint roller or brush to apply the recommended wallpaper paste. Apply the paste evenly and "book" the strip by gently folding the ends of the strip to the middle - pasted side to pasted side. Lightly press the glued sides together (don't crease).
  • Paste the Wall:
    • For this method, simply apply the paste to the wall before hanging each strip.

Hanging the Wallcovering:


  • Time to hang your first strip! Unbook the top of the strip and place it against the marked plumb line on the wall. Make sure you have about two inches of extra paper at the top of the wall. (The extra ½ on the left edge will go into the corner and onto the adjacent wall.) To help the wallpaper wrap, you will need to slit it in the corner at the top and bottom.

  • Use your hands to gently smooth the top half of the wallpaper, unbook the bottom half and then use a smoothing brush or plastic smoothing tool to press the wallpaper to the wall and remove any air bubbles or excess paste. It is best to smooth from the center to the edges in diagonal movements.

  • Hang the second strip. You should match the pattern at eye level first and then work up to the ceiling and down to the baseboards. Do not overlap the strips, just butt the edges. Do not over work the strip by pushing or pulling….this can stretch the wallcovering. Reposition by lifting it away from the wall and sliding into position.

  • Make sure the strips are tight against each other and the wall. Use a razor knife and a trim guide (a wide putty knife works very well) to carefully trim off any excess wallcovering at the top and bottom. You should always turn off the electrical power to any switches and outlets before trimming around them.

  • Make sure the seam is tight. You can roll the seam lightly with a seam roller or press with the smoothing tool. Do not use a seam roller on raised or embossed designs.

  • Thoroughly rinse the strips with a sponge or soft cloth and clean water. Wipe dry with a clean cloth. Any paste that is left on the surface of the wallcovering can cause damage to the wallpaper inks and is not considered a defect of the material.

  • After you have hung two strips, inspect them carefully for any color shading or other defects. (If there is a problem, stop and notify Seabrook's customer service.)

  • Continue working your way to the first corner. When you reach the corner and the wall space is narrower than the width of your wallpaper, you measure the space and add ½ inch. Carefully measure and cut the next strip so to the size of the space including the extra ½ inch. Hang this part of the split strip as you did the others, but allow the extra ½ to wrap around to the next wall. (You do not want to wrap more than this, because corner walls are usually not perfectly parallel, and wrapping wide strips can cause major wrinkling and tearing.)

  • When you move to the next wall, you will be hanging the balance of the strip. Measure this portion of the strip and make a new plumb line by measuring out from the corner….this time the same width as the strip. Make a new vertical plumb line on the wall. Here you will place the right edge of the strip against the marked plumb line and slide the left edge into the corner, overlapping the half inch that wrapped around the corner - this time overlapping is good! - and match the pattern as well as you can. You now are assured that the wallcovering will be plumb. Continue until you have finished the room.

  • (Outside corners- Sometimes rooms have outside corners as well as the more common inside corners. You should follow the same basic instructions for outside corners, because wrapping around them can be just as problematic as inside ones. Measure to allow for a ½ wrap, and split the strip. Hang the first portion, and then after marking a new plumb line, hang the balance of the strip on the new wall.)

Cutting Around Doors and Windows:


  • Hang the entire strip of paper and smooth it into place to the edge of the door or window frame. Make diagonal cuts in the wallpaper at the door or window frame corners. Remove the bulk of the paper that was covering the door or window opening and smooth the wallpaper against the molding. Now use the razor knife and trim guide to neatly trim the edges.

Light Switches and Electrical Outlets:


  • Remember to turn off the electrical power!

  • Paper over the light switches and outlets. Using a razor knife, cut and trim an area slightly smaller than the switch plate or outlet cover. Replace the covers when finished. Tip: for a designer effect, you can apply your wallpaper to the switch and plate covers. Be sure to match the pattern.

Borders:


  • Applying a border is simple. If you are hanging on a painted wall, you will need to follow the same prep instructions as for wallcovering. If the border is to be applied over wallcovering, you will need to use vinyl-to-vinyl adhesive or another recommended adhesive, even if the border is prepasted.

  • Prepasted borders that are not hung over other wallcovering can be loosely rolled with the pattern on the inside, and immersed in water. Be sure to follow the directions for the temperature of the water and the length of soaking time.

  • As you pull the border from the water, place it on a flat work surface. "Book" the border by accordion folding. (Take approximately 6 inches and loosely fold paste side to paste side, then, do the same with pattern side to pattern side.) Allow the border to rest or "book" for the suggested amount of time - not longer than three minutes. "Booking" allows the border time to absorb water and the paper fibers to relax.

  • For unpasted borders you should apply the recommended adhesive with a narrow paint roller or a brush.

  • Start hanging the border in an inconspicuous corner, overlapping it ¼ inch into the corner on the adjacent wall. Gradually unfold the border as you smooth it into place. Rinse thoroughly so that no paste residue is left on the surface of the border. (Paste that is left on the surface can damage the inks. This is not considered a defect.)

  • When you reach a corner, cut the border so that about ¼ inch goes onto the next wall. Start the next wall by hanging the rest of the border, overlapping the ¼ inch that went around the corner.

  • When you come to the end of a spool of border, match the pattern with a new spool. Overlap the borders at the pattern match and using a razor knife and a straight edge, cut through the two borders on a diagonal. Peel back both edges and remove the overlap. Smooth back into place and you will find that you have a perfect match from spool to spool.

Borders as Accents:


  • If you are planning to use a border around windows or doorways, you will need to measure accordingly. Since you will need to overlap at each corner, you will need to take into account that you will need to add the depth of the border to your measurements in order to allow for the overlapping or mitering. To avoid pattern mismatches at the corners, you might want to consider selecting a border that does not have a strong directional print. To create a miter cut at the corners of a window or doorway, simply overlap the two border ends where they meet at the corners. Use a razor knife and a straight edge to carefully cut through both layers at a 45 degree angle. Gently peel back and remove the excess, then press flat. The seams should butt perfectly. Rinse with clean water to remove all paste from the border, wall and molding.

  • If you want to use a border to create a chair rail, measure and mark the height that you prefer. Use a level to draw a line on the wall or walls. This will be your guide for the horizontal edge of the border.