common wallpaper mistakes pin Lars Contzen pink teal zigzag wallpaper rolls

This Lars Contzen graphic zigzag wallpaper is ready to get hung.

What to Know to Hang Wallpaper like a Pro

With today’s wallpaper technology, hanging wallpaper is now actually a lot easier than people realize. However, if you don’t know any better, there are plenty of ways to make it hard on yourself. Keep reading to find out about the top 8 mistakes that people make when hanging wallpaper so you know what to avoid and how to have a smooth wallpaper installing experience!

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ornate red baroque wallpaper

As long as you have a sharp blade handy, no panels, doors or windows can stand in your way!

1 – Not having the right tools

The number one quickest way to make you life easier when doing any DIY project, really, is to just use proper tools. When hanging wallpaper, having a sharp razor will change your life. Go ahead and get yourself a box of 100 razors and switch it up every time it gets a bit dull (which happens pretty quickly). You’ll have crisper looking walls in half the time.

When it comes to getting the air bubbles out, be warned that wallpaper brushes are what professionals use, but are also something that requires some finesse. Being stuck with just a brush is pretty frustrating when you realize it’s not that effective without some skill. Many beginners opt for a clean, dry foam roller to push out the air bubbles, or a wallpaper sweep (a rigid plastic scrapper thing).

If you chose a paper material wallpaper, which is not recommended because they are difficult to hang, consider renting a wallpaper pasting machine. You simply load the wallpaper roll into it and out the other end comes pasted paper, right when you need it. It basically cuts out the messy step of pasting the paper yourself, but you’ll still have to let the glue soak before hanging the strip to the wall.

Porsche Graphic Beige Fishbone Pattern Wallpaper

Choosing a non-woven paste-the-wall type wallpaper like this Porsche fishbone pattern wallpaper will make your life a whole lot easier.

2 - Sloppy ‘booking’ and soaking times

The number one way that people botch their wallpaper is by not following the soaking times closely enough when working with paper material wallpaper. With paper wallpaper, you must apply the adhesive to the paper, then ‘book’ it (lightly fold it without creating creases so that the glue doesn’t evaporate) and wait an exact amount of time given in the instructions for the glue to soak before sticking it to the wall. When wallpaper is soaking, it also expands and as it dries again, it will slightly shrink. Follow the timing given in the instructions very closely to avoid gaps between the strips, etc.

When booking the wallpaper, also make sure that the edges all line up perfectly. If some edges or corners are exposed too much to the air, the adhesive will evaporate and this will make your wallpaper more prone to peeling once it’s hung, if the edges stick at all.

3 - Picking Difficult Wallpapers

Now that you’ve heard about some of the difficulties that can be experienced with paper material wallpaper, just make it easy on yourself and avoid it. The latest advancement in wallpaper technology has brought us a material called ‘non-woven’. Non-woven material is a mix of natural and synthetic fibers that have been pressed or felted together to make a flexible, yet strong material. This material is ridiculously easy to hang because you can apply the paste directly to the wall rather than needing to paste the paper and then handling that wet, flimsy stuff. This also means no more soaking times; the part of the process where one is most likely to make a mistake. Even when you’re ready for a change, non-woven wallpaper can be peeled from the wall dry and the days of picking wet shreds of old wallpaper off your wall are over. So if you’re especially concerned with making the wallpapering job as easy as possible, look for non-woven wallpaper, the easiest wallpaper to hang.

Another thing you should look for is the pattern match type on your wallpaper; no match, straight match or offset match. No Match (also called open match or free match) means that there is no pattern that needs to be matched up and this is the easiest. With straight match wallpaper, there is a pattern that needs to be lined up, but it is regular and every strip you prepare should look exactly the same – this is not too difficult. Finally, we have offset match. This is wallpaper with a large irregular pattern on it that might not repeat for several strips. This can actually get pretty complicated and, well, you’ve been warned.

Check out our huge selection of non-woven wallpaper - we have a filter!

Red wallpaper with gold etching

This red wallpaper with gold etching is going to need some space to hang

4 – Being too messy

So you can reasonably expect that installing wallpaper is a little bit messy and that messiness can be frustrating. Come prepared with a package of moist towelettes. It’s great to always be able to quickly clean your hands when you need to handle the important wallpaper, or wipe up a smudge if you’ve dripped or splashed. Wetwipes keep things under control.

5 – Not having proper workspace & lighting

You will make things unnecessarily difficult for yourself if you don’t give yourself enough space and light to work with. Simply moving the furniture away from the wall is not enough; you need some room! Have open floor space to lay out and match up your strips, and some good light to see where the air bubbles are. Having space and light will make the entire process more comfortable and easy to manage.

6 – Not buying enough wallpaper

A huge mistake that people often make when wallpapering is not calculating properly how much wallpaper they’ll need, drastically underestimating it and then not having enough to cover the wall. The problem with this is that you risk, when returning to buy more wallpaper, not getting wallpaper from the same batch – and this might not match perfectly color-wise. If this happens to you and you need to order more wallpaper, make efforts to get wallpaper with the same batch number on it!

Calculating the amount of wallpaper that you need is not as simple as looking at the area of the wall and then buying that much wallpaper. The type of ‘match’ that the wallpaper you’ve chosen has, whether it’s free match, straight match or an offset match wallpaper, will affect the amount you’ll need to cover your wall. When you have a wallpaper where the pattern needs to be lined up, a certain amount of wallpaper will be wasted in between strips. There will be a ‘pattern repeat’ number on the wallpaper which tells you how much distance one run of the pattern goes. In general, the higher this number is, the more wallpaper will be wasted in between strips. Of course, you should calculate this exactly before buying and even then, you should buy a roll or two extra to leave yourself some room for error when you’re actually hanging it.

Take the guess work out of buying wallpaper and use our wallpaper calculator! Shimmering geometric wallpaper

The horizontal lines on this shimmering geometric wallpaper will make it super obvious if the pattern is not level

7 – Not properly preparing the walls

After putting in all this work hanging wallpaper, it would be pretty disappointing for it to peel away from the wall not long after, right? Then make sure your walls are free of grease and dust by cleaning them first! Then be sure to let the walls completely dry before hanging any wallpaper. If the wall beneath is at all questionable and a quick wipe might not fit it, go ahead and apply a coat of primer before wallpapering, just to make sure it sticks. This will also cover up any discoloration on the wall that might shine through the wallpaper – not all wallpaper is perfectly opaque you know! If bumps and cracks are an issue, consider hanging a wallpaper liner first. This is basically a thick white wallpaper that will minimize the appearance of any imperfections on the wall below.

8 – Trusting your walls to be straight

If you don’t know better, it’s definitely tempting to line up your wallpaper against one wall in the corner and then work your way across the wall – don’t do this. The problem is that, more often than not, the angles are not right, the walls aren’t straight and the ceiling isn’t perfectly level. It might not be very obvious with your first strip if things aren’t straight, but by the time you get to the other side of the room, it will be, and it will be also too late to fix it. Instead, use a plumb bob or a level make sure the first strip is perfectly level and ignore what your walls say.

Duck Egg Monochrome and floral wallpaper

Hanging solid color wallpapers can be even easier than painting when you know what you’re doing!

To Summarize

  • Hanging wallpaper can be very easy, especially if you know not to make a few common mistakes.
  • Using proper tools like sharp blades, a wallpaper sweep or even a wallpaper pasting machine will make the whole process way easier
  • With paste-the-paper wallpaper, practise precise soaking times and book the wallpaper so that the edges line up perfectly
  • Save yourself some hassle by simply picking easier to hang wallpapers like paste-the-wall varieties i.e. most non-wovens, and easier to hang patterns like free match or straight match wallpapers
  • Don’t let your mess spiral out of control; come prepared with moist towelettes
  • Move all the furniture out of the room to give yourself proper workspace and make sure you have good lighting!
  • Make a proper calculation for how much wallpaper you’ll need and then get some extra to give yourself room for error when hanging the wallpaper
  • If you don’t buy enough wallpaper and need to buy more, make sure it is with the same batch number to ensure the colors are exactly the same!
  • Make sure your walls are clean and completely dry before hanging wallpaper. If cleaning is too difficult or you are concerned about discoloration or other imperfections on the wall below, consider using a primer or wallpaper liner
  • Use a plumb bob or level and don’t just trust the walls to be straight!

Have you hung wallpaper before? What mistakes did you make and what would you change about your process now? Answer in the comments below! common mistakes when wallpapering pin