DIY Wallpaper Hanging and Removal

    Photo: Hotel Domspitzen KölnWikimedia Creative CommonsWallpaper is back in style and is an impressive way to add character and class to any room of your home. While wallpaper hanging is not the simplest of DIY projects, you can achieve beautiful results. Just use our handy guide, a little patience, and preferably a partner to assist you. TIP: If this is your first experience applying wallpaper, start with a simple pattern to avoid complicated matching.

    Hang Wallpaper

    1. Clean and smooth. Make sure the wall surface is clean and smooth before beginning your wallpaper hanging project. Scrape off old peeling paint, apply spackle or joint compound to any holes or cracks and let dry, and sand. Wash the walls to be covered with soapy water (or a bleach solution if mold is present).

    2. Prime. The best primer for most walls is a coat of acrylic If the wall surfaces are heavily textured (for example, stucco), you may wish to put up lining paper to even them out; bear in mind that this will require 36 hours to dry. Brand new construction from drywall or other porous material may require a couple of coats of alkyd primer before applying the acrylic primer.

    3. Get ready. Ask a buddy to help – this will make working with large strips of wet wallpaper much easier. Assemble your tools:


         Clean work surface such as a tarp-covered table

         Tape measure



         Paint roller tray and premixed wallpaper glue if not using pre-pasted wallpaper

         Paint roller

         Paper smoother

         Damp sponge

         Seam roller

    4. Measure. Use the tape measure and pencil to mark exactly where to hang the wallpaper sections.

    5. Cut strips. Cut strips of wallpaper approximately 4 inches longer than the height of your walls. Each strip must be cut at the same place on the repeat to ensure that the pattern matches horizontally.

    6. Paste. Pour the glue into the paint tray and apply to the back of the wallpaper with the paint roller, one strip at a time.

    7. Book. Fold the pasted strip up so the top and bottom meet in the middle like a closed shutter, taking care not to crease. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions as to the exact amount of time you need to “book” the paper (leave it to relax and soak the paste in).

    8. Hang. Hang the wallpaper, standing on the ladder and working from the top down for large sheets. (Here’s where you’ll need your buddy to hold the lower end of the paper.) Use the paper smoother to tuck the upper edge into the join between wall and ceiling. Then smooth the sheet outwards from the center in a pulling motion, taking care to get rid of any bubbles. Sponge away visible glue and cut off excess paper. Position each sheet adjacent to the previous one, without overlapping.

    9. Roll. Gently go over the seams where strips abut with a seam roller.

    10. Paper around moldings. Overlap by one inch. Cut carefully with a razor from the corner of the molding outwards to the wallpaper’s edge and press the cut paper firmly in place. Trim.

    Remove Wallpaper

    When you’re ready for a change, wallpaper removal is a messy job, but doable. Here’s how.

    A. Protect. Move furniture, carpets, and appliances to another room if at all possible. Cover your floor and trim with plastic to protect them from water and glue. Switch off the electrical supply to the room where you will be working. Cover outlets with tape.

    B. Pull off top layer. Removal of the wallpaper facing is the easy part. It should simply be pulled off, without using any water. You may need to use a scoring tool to get started. If you are lucky enough to be removing strippable wallpaper, skip the next two steps.

    C. Moisten backing. Working one small section at a time, sponge or damp mop the backing that remains, using very hot water. Let soak for 15 minutes.

    D. Scrape. Carefully scrape off the backing with a putty knife. Repeat Steps C and D if necessary.

    E. Wash. Wash the walls and allow to dry before applying new wallpaper or other covering.

    Laura Firszt writes for,

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