Wallpaper wall murals have been around for hundreds of years and have graced some of the grandest homes around the world. There is a house museum in my town that has two rooms papered with 19th century French pictorial murals that are original to the home. Amazingly, these papers were actually moved and then moved back when the house was restored. In those days, paper murals, whether hand-painted or printed, were expensive and available only to the wealthiest people.
Technological improvements have made wall murals and wallpaper accessible to nearly any homeowner; wall murals are an excellent way to personalize a space. From children's rooms to dining rooms, a wallpaper mural can expand the room with a wide vista or even transport one to another world. These days, we can create our own designs in Photoshop or with photography and have wall murals/wallpaper made to our specifications.
So, how does one go about choosing the right mural for the space? As with any home decorating project, careful pre-planning will make all the difference. First decide which wall(s) you would like to cover. It can be a single accent wall, or a four-walled masterpiece. It may sound obvious, but take care to select a wall that has sufficient space to accommodate the mural. And this doesn't just mean surface space to apply the mural, but all space to view the mural once it's installed. If furniture needs to be placed against it, then the mural image should be visible above the level of the furniture. Often, murals are hung above a chair rail for that reason.
Once the wall mural and wallpaper have been selected, the next step is installation. Here is a quick guide to installing a wallpaper mural.
- Set aside sufficient time to install the paper in one session. Or at least be able to do an entire wall in one session in the event you are doing the entire room.
- Prepare the wall surface. Start with a good, but not soaking, wash; spackle any holes or cracks and then sand; paint the wall with two coats of latex paint for a clean, smooth surface.
- Lay out the paper panels in order on a floor nearby and mark each piece with its sequential number in the order you will apply it. Panels should be hung left to right. If space doesn't allow you to lay out the panels side by side, stack them with the left-to-right order in mind.
- Some papers will require paste and others come pre-pasted. Always follow manufacturers' instructions.
- Snap a plumb chalk line or use a level for the first panel and mark off the width of each panel, snapping a chalk line at each width mark.
- Apply or activate the paste per manufacturer instructions, taking care not to saturate the paper.
- Start applying panels from left to right. Slightly overlap each panel to accommodate shrinkage when drying. Smooth the panels from the center out, pushing out bubbles. Remove any residual paste with a damp sponge and smooth with a soft, dry cloth. Do not rub the paper too hard or vigorously.
- Trim excess at baseboard and ceiling.
Applying a wallpaper mural is not a terribly difficult DIY project. However, hiring a professional wallpaper hanger may be the right choice if any of these following issues are present: tricky wall angles; particularly tall ceilings; severe damage to the wall; or complex pattern.
A wallpaper mural can be pricey, so professional installation may be the right insurance policy to avoid disaster.