Step 1: Lay out the room

Tom Silva hanging wallpaper
Photo by David Carmack
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For wallpaper with a dominant element center it on the "focal wall"— the wall people first notice. Measure the width and height of this wall and mark its midpoint.

Cut a short strip of wallpaper. Place the dominant element over the midpoint. Mark the wall at the paper’s leading edge, the edge against which the next strip will hang.

Using a 4-foot level, draw a plumb line at that mark.

To estimate seam locations around the room, cut two more short pieces of paper and paste them edge-to-edge on the wall.

Mark where each leading edge. Continue marking around the room, pulling up and readhering the strips. Measure the wall height at the plumb line.

Cut the first full-length strip, with as much overhang as needed to place the dominant element at the midpoint mark.

If using solid-color wallpaper, leave 1 inch of overhang at the top and bottom.

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    Tools List

    • bucket with sponge
      Rectangular sponge,
      for initial smoothing of wallpaper
    • paintroller
      5-gallon paste bucket, nylon brush, and 3/4-inch-nap paint roller
    • allen wrench set
      Allen wrenches,
      for removing towel bars in bathrooms prior to papering
    • four-foot level
      2- and 4-foot levels,
      for drawing plumb lines on wall and guiding long cuts
    • torpedo level
      10-inch torpedo level,
      for plumbing short pieces above and below windows
    • utility knife
      Utility knives with snap-off blades, and single-sided razor blades,
      to cut and trim paper
    • scissors
      Scissors
    • folding ruler
      Folding rule and tape measure
    • putty knife
      6-inch, 3/4-inch, and 1½-inch putty knives,
      for guiding cuts along trim
    • Phillips screwdriver
      Screwdriver,
      for removing and replacing switch plates and receptacle covers
    • wallpaper smoother
      Smoothers,
      for final smoothing of wallpaper

    Shopping List

    1. PREMIXED STARCH-BASED ADHESIVE

    2. VINYL-TO-VINYL ADHESIVES

    for installing borders and securing corners when using vinyl wallpaper



    3. SPRAY-ON RUBBER CEMENT

    for applying wallpaper to switch and receptacle plates



    4. STIR STICKS

    for mixing paste



    5. 3/4-INCH-NAP ROLLER COVERS

    for spreading paste



    6. SEA OR CELLULOSE SPONGES

    for cleaning wallpaper after smoothing



    7. TERRY-CLOTH RAG

    for cleaning woodwork and ceiling after sponging