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5 Tips for Wallpapering Imperfect Walls

The label of any wallpaper will tell you to apply it only to clean and even walls. But what if like many spaces, you´ve been cursed with woodchip wallpaper or the walls are old, bumpy and cracking? If only wallpaper could be the perfect cover-up solution... Well, the good news is that it can, as long as you temper your expectations.

Read Ahead:

For more information on how to deal with woodchip wallpaper specifically, check out our article “How to Deal with Woodchip Wallpaper” for some surprisingly uncommon advice!

What you should do (for perfect results)

So you have textured, uneven walls, maybe walls with cracks or holes, and you really want to wallpaper. These two options are the right way to deal with uneven walls – at least, if you want it to look perfect:


If you have the time, money and the yearning for perfection, then you should consider hiring a professional to spackle your walls. This will leave you with a perfect wall that you can then wallpaper without issue.

Board-Over/ Drywall

Alternatively, if you have some extra room, the wall can be covered up with flat boards or even another layer of drywall, leaving you with a perfect surface to wallpaper.

If you own the space and have an interest in truly improving it, then you should consider handling your uneven walls the right way. But making your imperfect walls perfect can be time consuming and expensive – luckily, this isn’t your only option. It is important to understand that the following remedies are making the best of a bad situation and won’t completely erase evidence of imperfections. However, with tempered expectations, the following tips will help you to minimize the uneven, imperfect or textured look of your newly wallpapered walls.

What you could do anyway- subsurface wall liner

The biggest secret to success in wallpapering over imperfect walls is subsurface wall liner. This is thick white wallpaper that goes before your chosen patterned wallpaper, quickly creating a smooth surface. It can be painted over and is often used in new houses before painting to prevent imperfections from surfacing that occur as the house settles. Its actual purpose is to cover small holes and cracks, and to generally create a level surface. Depending on how heavy duty your requirements are, it comes in different strengths from 130g/m2 to 150g/m2 to unbreakable. It is hung with non-woven adhesives so it is also extremely simple to remove without causing damage. In fact, it is always advised to use a subsurface wall liner – it isn’t even expensive!

Check out our selection of subsurface wall liners here. black floral wallpaper with poppies

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5 Tips for Wallpapering Imperfect Walls

After hanging the subsurface wall liner, your walls should be greatly improved and at an acceptable state to wallpaper. However, it probably won’t look like a fresh slab of drywall. Using these tips and tricks will help to visually minimize any remaining evidence of texture, unevenness or imperfection on your walls.

Tip #1: Use thick structured wallpaper

Optimally, using a thick structured wallpaper on top of the wall liner will produce the best results. Some embossed or raised pattern wallpapers are made of a foamy material that will hardly reveal any signs of the imperfections beneath. Check out our selection of structured paintable wallpapers here.

Tip #2: Use textured wallpaper

A super smooth wallpaper will show all of the bumps below, even highlight them. Choosing to go with a texture intentionally will distract the eye from the unintentional features your wall possesses. The tiny shadows that texture casts break up and absorb the light, hiding the walls imperfections.

Tip #3: Choose matte over shiny

The worst-case scenario would be picking a shiny silver wallpaper – there is nowhere to hide. Shiny wallpaper causes every little bump to catch the light and sparkle. Choose matte wallpaper as it absorbs light and causes bumps and unevenness to be nearly unnoticeable.

Tip #4: Go for darker colors

Also in the theme of playing with light, darker colors absorb light and conceal imperfections. Bumps on the wall cast a small shadow which is much more visible against a light backdrop, making them much easier to spot. Going for darker colors will help you disguise unintended textures, bumps and cracks.

Tip #5: Use Busy Patterns

Avoid geometric patterns and patterns with perfect straight lines. The unevenness or bumps might cause these lines to look not so perfectly straight. Look for more organic, scattered or eclectic patterns that can handle being a little out of place.

To Summarize

  • The right way to handle imperfect surfaces is to making them perfect with spackling or covering them with boards or drywall
  • You can wallpaper uneven, bumpy or generally imperfect walls but it won’t look flawless
  • Use subsurface wall liner to drastically smooth out imperfections
  • Imperfections will best be disguised through the use of thick structured wallpaper, textured wallpaper, matte wallpaper, darker colors and busy patterns
  • Consider using paintable or textured faux plaster wallpapers.

How much of a perfectionist are you? How much would still visible bumps bother you? Answer in the comments below!

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