An Easy Step by Step Guide to Hanging Paper and Other Paste-the-Product Wallpapers
Wallpaper is making a comeback and gone are the days of boring monotone painted walls. Today, the quickest way to add style to your walls is with wallpaper. Not to mention that wallpaper is much longer-lasting than paint and due to this durability, is also much cheaper, in the long run, than paint. Plus, wallpaper is much easier to install than most people realize – especially when you have a step-by-step guide to hanging it like this! Keep reading to learn about how to properly hang wallpaper – from real people!
Before you start wallpapering, it's smart to double check that you bought enough wallpaper, and that you have all the necessary supplies. Of course, make sure your space and walls have been properly prepared, and it is best to also have your wallpaper strips prepared by pre-cutting them!
How to know if the wallpaper is paste-the-product?
To know if this guide applies to your situation, look for the paste-the-product symbol that should be on the label of the wallpaper roll. Paper material wallpaper is almost never able to be hung by directly pasting the wall (unless it has a non-woven backing) and prepasted wallpaper is also rare outside of the UK. Knowing that the wallpaper is a ‘paper’ material is generally enough to make an educated guess that a paste-the-product technique should be used.
Note that paper wallpapers are hung differently than non-woven material wallpapers! Please see our guide, “[Guide] How to hang Non-Woven & Paste-the-Wall Wallpapers ” if you have one of these types.
1 - Mix and Apply Paste
Mix your adhesive now and starting from the top of the paper, generously apply the glue to the back of your first strip with your adhesive brush or foam roller. Try to evenly coat the paper and pay special attention that even the very edges are covered as the seams are most important in ensuring the paper sticks and doesn’t just peel from the wall! Make the paper wet, but not drenched.
Paste the top half of the paper, book it as you will read below, then continue pasting the bottom half, book the bottom half and leave it to soak. Both ends of the wallpaper will be folded to meet in the middle.
Alternatively, you can use a wallpaper pasting machine, they widely range in price but also, they can be rented. With one of these handy dandy machines, you load the wallpaper roll in one end and out the other, comes perfectly pasted wallpaper. The wallpaper still needs to be booked though.
To book wallpaper, each end is folded to meet in the middle making a paste sandwich. Notice how special attention has been paid to line up the edges and avoid wrinkles and bubbles.
2 - ’Booking’ / Soaking the Wallpaper
Wallpaper paste evaporates very quickly and we don’t want this because we need it to soak into the paper. This is why once we have pasted the top half of the paper, we will then fold the top part in half with itself so that the glue sides are touching. Of course, don’t crease the paper at the fold - this will be the one area that is slightly exposed to air during the booking. Other than this spot, pay special attention that the edges are lined up perfectly so that the glue won’t evaporate – the last thing we want is a lack of glue at the seams! As well, make sure the paper is not wrinkled or with bubbles – the whole surface area should be flush.
The paper will actually expand as it soaks the paste in; this is why it is so important to paste it evenly and for the exact amount of time that is given in the instructions. It is also crucial to be consistent about the soaking time with each strip to ensure that they all expand an equal amount. Sloppy wallpaper booking is one of the leading causes of botched wallpaper jobs – line up the edges and FOLLOW THE SOAKING TIMES EXACTLY AND CONSISTANTLY. When this is done, the pattern will match up perfectly, if not, this is how wrinkled, bubbly, mismatched wallpaper happens.
To ensure each strip is soaked for an equal amount of time, it only makes sense to paste one strip at a time, hang it, then move on to the next. Don’t even think about pasting strips in bulk.
Psssst… non-woven wallpaper is much easier to hang and doesn’t require booking or soaking times. With non-woven wallpaper, you simply apply the paste directly to the wall and stick the dry wallpaper to it, and since it’s not soaking, the size also doesn’t fluctuate.
Leave the bottom part of the paper booked until it is ready to be hung, this way the waste won’t have a chance to evaporate and you can take your time perfecting the top half.
3 - Find wallpaper direction
Depending on the pattern you’ve chosen, there might be a top and a bottom to your wallpaper, and not all wallpapers will be rolled on to the roll in the right direction! The last thing you want is upside-down birds on your walls – so make sure you know which ends are up and down!
4 - Hang wallpaper starting closest to the light source
Some classic wallpapering advice is, on each wall, start wallpapering closest to the window or other main light source. This will ensure that any unintended overlapping at the seams is unnoticable as it won't cast any tiny shadows.
Remember to never trust the walls or ceiling in your room to be straight or level; always follow your plumb lines and even double check with a level as you are hanging. Something slightly off-kilter at the beginning might not seem like a big deal, but this will only grow exponentially as you continue to the other side of the room. So, once the wallpaper has been anchored to a plumb line on one side, use your smoothing tool of choice (smoothing brush, dry foam roller or a plastic skim) to gently work the top of the paper on to the wall to the other side while also smoothing out bubbles. Don’t just hang the wallpaper then work out the bubbles; better is to smooth the bubbles out as you hang the wallpaper. Leave the bottom half of the paper booked to prevent the adhesive from evaporating and always be checking that the wallpaper hasn’t shifted from the plumb line. Don’t worry about trimming the top and bottom until the wallpaper is secure on the wall and all of the bubbles have been removed. If you have applied the perfect amount of paste, you should notice that you are able to “slip” the wallpaper around on the wall a bit – this is a good thing and is how you will straighten the strip perfectly. If there isn’t this mild slippery feeling, you probably haven’t applied enough paste, and on the other hand, you don’t want the paper to be so wet that it’s just melting off of the walls.
4 - Remove excess paper & paste
After hanging each strip, you should trim the excess paper from the top and bottom by jamming the joint knife or long metal ruler into the corner and cutting along it with a sharp razor. This is also a good time to wipe away any paste that may have made its way onto the surface of your wallpaper. In between hanging each strip, do a little clean up, making sure that all of your work surfaces (the floor or table) and your hands are free of sticky stuff – this will keep things from getting too chaotic.
4 - Dry Wallpaper Slowly
Once you’ve finished wallpapering your space, as tempting as it might be to open a window to allow it to dry faster, you must actually dry the wallpaper rather slowly. Should your wallpaper be exposed to intense drafts or dry heat, the glue around the edges can evaporate too quickly, causing the edges to peel. The ideal setting for drying wallpaper is actually 20◦c with no drafts.
- Non-woven and paper wallpapers are hung differently! Non-woven is paste-the-wall while paper is paste-the-product.
- Preparing your wallpaper strips for each wall before you start handling the paste is easier and will also give you a chance to check for defects and that everything lines up and is well planned.
- Sloppy wallpaper booking is one of the leading causes of botched wallpaper jobs – line up the edges and FOLLOW THE SOAKING TIMES EXACTLY AND CONSISTANTLY.
- Never trust your walls or ceiling to be straight and always use a level or plumb bob.
- Wallpaper needs to dry slowly so don’t even think about opening the windows to speed up the process!
Happy wallpapering and let us know how it goes in the comments below! p>
For some extra hints on what not to do when hanging wallpaper, check out our article “8 Most Common Mistakes People Make When Hanging Wallpaper”.