How to Hang Wallpaper
Painting and decorating contractor John Dee's step-by-step method for a well-clad wall
Wallpaper first appeared in the 16th century, in the form of black-and-white hand-blocked prints, and it remains a favorite way to bring color, texture, and personality to a home. Bold patterns and deep colors make any room seem more intimate, while light-toned papers with delicate prints convey a feeling of spaciousness.
Whatever effect a homeowner desires, achieving it demands equal measures of art and engineering, says painting and decorating contractor John Dee. For him, the smooth, seamless look and good adhesion that signify a top-quality installation begin with a properly prepared substrate and end with exacting attention to each room's particular topography. Where walls are out of plumb, for instance, he cuts and overlaps the paper at the corners so adjacent patterns line up precisely.
Dee's advice to novice wallpaper hangers: begin with small, easy-to-match patterns. "Work patiently and steadily, and you'll get tight seams and a professional look."
Hanging Wallpaper Overview
Decorative choices range from delicate silks and grasses to sturdy vinyls and even wood veneer that can be sanded and finished like solid wood paneling.
Most of the wallpapers sold in this country are paper-backed vinyls. According to John Dee, these are easier to work with than more delicate and tear-prone plain paper, and generally come prepasted eliminating the need to roll on starch-based adhesives. They can, however, be harder to cut and require bonding with vinyl-to-vinyl adhesive.
Tip: Silk, grass, cloth, and textured papers also require careful attention during installation: "You absolutely can't get paste on their faces," Dee says. "There's no way to wipe it off."