How to Wallpaper: Dos and Don’ts for Beginners

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Sometimes you try doing things around the house as a way to cut down on cost. Sometimes it is to gain knowledge and experience around something you have never done before. It is both of these reasons my husband and I took on the task of wallpapering and from this experience I have learned some Dos and Don’ts on how to wallpaper.

It can be easy to shy away from trying something new, especially when it’s a big task in the form of time and space. I’ll admit, I kept putting the task off, worried about not being up to the job, not really knowing what I was doing, but eventually the chaos of the space in ready mode drove us to take action.

If you’re thinking of taking on your first wallpaper job, here are a few Dos and Don’ts on how to wallpaper that I’ve learned from our first time experience.

DO learn from the experts. Remember the piece I wrote on watching YouTube with the family? YouTube is also a great resource for learning new things, such as how to wallpaper. Ferm Living Shop offered a fun video broken out into 10 easy steps for wallpapering. Dulux DecCentres is another great tutorial video on how to wallpaper. The later offered some other professional tips not covered on the Ferm Living Shop video. I’m sure if you search you’ll find plenty how to wallpaper videos but these two were helpful to start.

DON’T start with a difficult wall space. For our first job we were wallpapering the inside of a closet. Although the space was small, it didn’t have any windows, arches or other architectural features we had to work around. It was three simple straight up and down walls. The height meant we could paper a wall without standing on a ladder too. Papering and balancing are two things I’m not ready to master quite yet. When you’re trying to grasp the basics of a new task, like learning how to wallpaper, it’s best to keep the task simple.

DO use an ‘easy to match’ pattern. When choosing wallpaper you’re only looking at a patch. Remember this patch will run beside another patch and another patch. Fortunately the paper we choose had no overlapping pattern, making it easy to run one strip beside another. You want to choose a wallpaper pattern you love but keep in mind how easy (or hard) it will be to line-up.

DON’T take shortcuts. This references the first point about learning from the experts. When wallpapering a corner all the experts we watched said it’s best to cut the paper before hand, allowing for only a little lip (5mm) to overlap onto the next wall. Once that side is in place, you cut a new piece to match up on the adjoining wall. It may seem long and wasteful to wallpaper corners this way but there’s a reason they don’t take shortcuts. We found that out the hard way. Hanging wallpaper and wrapping paper around the corner doesn’t work as well as you might think. It’s much better to measure and cut. Trust me.

DO have a large workspace. You’ll need room to lay out your strip of paper for pasting, especially when some experts suggest preparing two strips at once for hanging. A portable table is ideal in your workspace. We’re not that organized so we just cleared an area on the floor. If you do use the floor as your work space, remember to wash down your work surface before pasting a new strip of paper to avoid excess paste from adhering to the front of your wallpaper.

DON’T rush your work. Perhaps it’s the years of crafts with the kids that had me worried about the wallpaper paste drying out before I was ready, or sticking to the wrong part of the wall or me or something else. Wallpaper paste isn’t the same as glue.  One of the papering suggestions in the Dulux DecCentres How to Wallpaper video was folding long sheets of wallpaper onto itself after pasting. This sounds counterintuitive but it really does make things easier when paper sits with paste applied (as per our paper’s instructions) and moving it to the wall. We found the paste and paper offered a lot of flexibility when it came to repositioning the paper on the wall. Of course, the more you lift and reposition your paper, the more likely you will weaken and damage the paper. Take your time when applying your paper in just the right spot.

DO allow for a little extra wallpaper. When calculating the amount of paper you need for your work surface, make sure to allow for errors, extra paper at the top and bottom of each strip for trimming and enough extra to enable aligning your paper’s pattern. The Ferm Living Shop video showed this in their example. Some patterns aren’t a matter of just using the paper from where you last placed your cut. You may have to cut lower down to enable the pattern to line-up correctly with the sheet next to it.

DON’T be afraid to use good quality paper. For your first job you might feel it’s best to just use inexpensive paper from your local hardware store but if you look online you’ll find some great designer paper companies too, such as Graham Brown, Crown Wallpaper and Fabrics and Modern Karibou. Sometimes these companies will run clearance sales. That’s how we discovered the fabulous paper we used for our project, marked down at 70% off.

Our foray into wallpapering wasn’t stress free but the end result turned out pretty good. We’re happy enough that we’re already planning on wallpapering other (small) areas. My hope is the knowlege we’ve gained from our learning how to wallpaper experience will benefit others with these simple tips. And it’s true, I do feel a small amount of pride, okay a big amount, every time I look at the finished space.

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