Wallpaper Hanging Guide

Wall Coverings can completely transform the look and feel of a room. These directions from Blonder Wall Covering and B&Q videos will help you achieve the best possible results every time. Just take your time and install carefully. The results will be rewarding! 

Tools and Sundry Check List:

  • Stepladder or sturdy step-stool
  • Large flat surface on which to cut/paste (a table)
  • Plumb line or level, chalk, tack, yardstick, pencil, string
  • Scissors
  • Wide-blade putty knife or wallpaper smoother
  • Razor knife, blades
  • Hammer
  • Two buckets
  • Screwdriver
  • Slim paint roller
  • Seam roller
  • Smoothing brush
  • Pasting brush
  • Sponge

Material List

  • Pre-pasted Wall Covering - Water Tray
  • Unpasted Wall Covering - bucket and wall covering paste brush, adhesive
  • Lining Paper - For coverings without lining
  • Wall Preparation Materials - see directions for your type of wall
  • Drop Cloths
  • Wall Sizing
  • Wallpaper adhesive or paste
  • Nails
  • Border and overlap adhesive

Before Getting Started

Open and inspect each bolt for printing and shading defects. Make sure that all rolls are from the same run number or dye lot. Read the instructions packaged in each roll for specific hanging information. If you are working with border and/or fabric in addition to wall covering, you should receive and inspect all items before beginning your project.

Wall Preparation

New Drywall- Apply primer/sealer with a brush or roller. This provides a smooth even surface for the wall covering to adhere to. Also, it will be easier to remove the wall covering at a later date. Note that fresh plaster must be allowed to cure for 90 days before priming.

Previously Painted Walls - Fill cracks or holes with sparkling compound. When dry, sand any rough spots until smooth. Lightly sand enameled surfaces. Be sure to clean walls with a bleach or tsp and water solution. Then, apply a primer/sealer to the entire wall surface or over the speckled areas at a minimum. This will make the removal of the wallpaper at a later date much easier

Previously Papered Walls - Remove old wall coverings and sand smooth. To learn more about removing wallpaper, watch the video to the right. Instead of a scoring tool, first try removing the top layer of wallpaper and then applying the wallpaper stripper to the paper backing. If the top layer doesn't peel away on its own, use a course grit sanding pole to allow for the wallpaper stripper to penetrate the surface. Clean walls with a bleach or tsp and water solution. Apply a primer/sealer to the wall surface. All walls should be sized to maximize the slip. This allows for easier positioning of wall coverings as it is being hung, and makes it easier to remove at a later date.

Types of Match

Random Match - Patterns that do not have specific match points, such as textures. These papers often look better as the strips are reversed, alternating the top and bottom of successive strips.

Drop Match - The pattern runs diagonally across the wall so that every other strip is the same along the ceiling line. The design may form a diamond grid effect. Also known as offset match.

Straight Across Match - Forms an overall design motif. The same elements of the design in each strip are an equal distance from the ceiling line.

Free Match - Matches between the design elements which should align in a diamond configuration, not side by side. The design elements may be separated by the trim going between strips. Design motifs must, however, be aligned to maintain consistence of form.

Getting Started:

Hanging the first strip straight is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a visually pleasing installation. Use a plumb line to make sure your first strip and those that follow are straight. You can start in the middle of the room like the video indicates as one option. Another option is to choose an inconspicuous corner, preferably close to a window or door. Measure from the corner to a point 1/2" narrower than the width of the wall covering. Then, drop the plumb line from that spot. When the line stops moving, hold it tightly at the baseboard with one hand and snap it with the other. The colored chalk line will be where your first two strips of wall covering meet. Note that some installer choose to draw this line on the wall using a level.

Cutting Lengths:

Carefully measure the height of the wall, and add an extra 2" top and bottom for final trimming. Cut your first strip. When using a set design motif, cut the first length of wall covering so that after final trimming, the entire motif will be placed at the top of the wall.

Pattern Matching:

Before cutting more strips remember to allow for the proper pattern match. Match dry strip to dry strip or wet to wet. Save remnants, they are often useful for small areas such as above windows and doors.

Pasting Unpasted Wall Coverings

Use the type of paste recommended in the instructions that came with the wall covering. If no information is given, ask your retailer's advice. Brush or roll the back of the wall covering with paste. Apply plenty to the edges. fold the strip (or "book") pasted side to pasted side, that is bring in both edges toward the middle. Be careful not to crease the paper. Strips should be booked to allow for sufficient absorption of moisture and for the wall covering to become supple. Approximate time is 3-5 minutes. Once again, see individual instructions for exact booking time.

Pre-Pasted Wall Coverings:

Fill water tray with lukewarm water and roll the strip pattern side in. Immerse in water tray for the time recommended in the instructions supplied in each roll. Then take the top end of the roll and pull sheet out of water allowing it to unroll as it is drawn from the tray. Book the strips as described in the previous paragraph. Change the water after every six strips.


Carry the folded strip to the wall. Check which is the top end of the strip, and holding the top corners, open the top fold and line up to the right of your plumb line. Establish your ceiling line and allow the 2" overlap. Smooth down the middle of the strip using a smoothing brush or soft sponge working out toward the edges removing the wrinkles and air bubbles as you go. Open the bottom fold and continue to smooth the strip into place.

Position the next strip on the wall and slide it precisely into position against the first piece so that the pattern matches at normal eye level. Butt edges, do not overlap. If need be, move entire piece by sliding it over. Do not push or pull seams into place. After you finish each strip, immediately sponge off any extra paste with clean water. Wipe paste off of ceiling and baseboards before it dries. Approximately 20 minutes after hanging, if necessary, use a seam roller to gently flatten the joints between strips.

To ensure your satisfaction, hang three strips and inspect for you overall approval. If there is a problem, stop hating and contact your local retailer for advice.

After you have three strips up, trim them at the ceiling and baseboard using a broad knife or wall scraper as a guide and cutting, with a very sharp knife. Go slowly and change you blade often.

Hanging Corners & Obstacles:

When you come to an inside corner, you will do some basic arithmetic, allowing you to cut the strip into tow pieces, rather than wrapping the whole strip around the corner. This will result in a very neat installation.

First, measure the distance from the edge of the last strip that you have hung to the corner. Do this at several points between the ceiling and the baseboard. Determine the widest measurement. Cut a strip of wall covering 1/2" wider than the widest measurement. Save the remainder of the strip. Hang the first side into the corner and extend 1/2" around the corner onto the next wall. Measure the remaining strip for the second side. Use this width to establish a new plumb line on the second wall. Once hung, it will overlap the first strip into the corner. Match as closely as possible. Any slight paper mismatch will not be noticeable. Reglue the overlap using vinyl to vinyl adhesive.


Hang wall coverings right over the windows and doors. Then cut away excess with scissors, leaving a few inches of overlap all around. Make diagonal cuts into the corners and then smooth the wall covering into the edge of the frame and trim as usual with your blade and straight edge.


Paper the ceiling before the walls. Apply the wall covering strips across the narrow width of the room. Measure the width of the wall covering roll and subtract 1/2". Measure this distance from both corners of the short wall and insert tacks at these points. Tie chalk line to tacks and snap to create guideline. Measure and cut strips 4" longer than the length of the short wall. After pasting or immersing in water tray, fold and book the paper. Support the paper with a broom head (a partner may be needed here). Open the first fold, slide into position against guideline and smooth as usual. Unfold strip, fold by fold, and brush into position leaving 1/2" overlapping the wall on long, finished edge side, and 2" overlap on the short, cut edges of the paper.

Switch Plate and Electrical Outlets:

Remember to turn off the electricity. Remove switch plate and outlet covers. Hang wallpaper and simply smooth strip gently over the outlet or switch area. With a sharp knife, pierce paper at the center of the fitting and make diagonal cuts toward each corner. Press paper against wall around edge. Trim away surplus. You can cover the outlets and switch plates with leftover wall coverings.

Hanging Borders:

Measure wall width corner to corner. Each border strip should extend to full width of wall plus 1/2" to extend around corners. Submerge border in water tray for prescribed time, book by loosely folding accordion fashion, and apply to the wall. If the border is being applied over wall covering, do not wet border but use a vinyl to vinyl adhesive. Hang border, wrapping corners by about 1/4". Smooth as you go. Make sure you wipe with clean sponge to remove excess paste.

Repairing Damages:

Cut a piece of ext wall covering slightly larger than the damaged area. Past it in place over the damaged spot, carefully matching the pattern. Using the straight edge and sharp blade, cut through both layers of wall coverings around the damaged area. Remove excess paper and position new patch into the opening.

How Much Wall Covering Do I Need?

Measure the height of the room. Measure the distance around the room. Measure over any openings or cutouts such as windows, doors, fireplaces, etc. Count the number of openings or cut-outs which will not be covered. Use the chart below to determine the number of bolts or double rolls that you need. You may deduct one double roll for every five openings not wallpapered.

This chart shows how many bolts or double rolls to purchase when the bolt is 20.5" wide, and 33' long. Ask your retailer for assistance with specific questions, or for different sized rolls.

You are now ready to put up wallpaper!

Check your work
Wallpaper is a careful and detail intensive task. Take your time and be patient. Make sure to double check your work to see if you've missed anything because you won't want to go back and attend to any missed areas. Fixing is always harder than preventing. Let your supervisor know you are ready to begin the next task. 

Track your progress
Make sure that as you go from room to room or task to task that you are tracking your time in the time sheet application. This will ensure you are accurately paid for what you are doing and can help you to progress as a painter with greater earning potential.