Hanging wallpaper can be quite intimidating, but with proper planning, can be done well by almost any homeowner. Before beginning to hang wallpaper, you will need the following tools: a roller, a sponge, an angled paintbrush, a straight edge, a utility knife, a tape measure, pencils, a level, scissors, scrapers, a plastic smoother, rags, a glue syringe, and a seam roller.
Before hanging wallpaper, you will also need to determine how much wallpaper is needed. To do so, divide the complete square footage of the walls — including all doors and windows — by the square footage of one roll of wallpaper. Always buy at least 10% more wallpaper than you think you will need, to provide a margin for mistakes and trimming. If the design is likely to be hard to match, purchasing even more wallpaper is recommended.
Once the tools and wallpaper are assembled, a plan should be made for hanging the wallpaper. Since the pattern may not match up between the last strip and the first one, try to begin (and end) in a corner that is not easily noticed. These will make it possible to match wallpaper in the parts of the room that are the most obvious.
To begin hanging wallpaper, cut all strips of wallpaper to size, while leaving a 4 inch (10 cm) overhang on both ends. It is also important to keep track of the strips so that the pattern will match from strip to strip. A "clear hang" glue which is premixed works best for most wallpapers, although it may be a good idea to ask the wallpaper dealer for advice regarding the specific wallpaper being used. The glue should be poured into a paint roller tray, as a roller can apply glue more evenly than a brush is able to. Use a paint roller to apply glue whenever possible, using a brush for corners or small areas.
Laying the first strip of wallpaper pattern-side down on a table, mark the midpoint of the strip and roll a layer of glue over half of the strip, being sure to keep the glue layer fairly thin. Many people manage the strips of wallpaper by "booking," or folding them. The bottom and top edges of the glued half is lifted to the midpoint of the strip and pressed firmly, without folding the paper. After booking the wallpaper, you will have about 15 minutes to hang the paper before the glue begins to dry.
Immediately prior to hanging wallpaper, use a straightedge, a level, and a pencil to mark lines from the top to the bottom of the wall where each strip of paper will be hung. Bringing the first glued and booked strip of wallpaper to the wall, unfold the strip, and align it with the markings. Smooth the wallpaper against the wall, leaving the 4 inches (10 cm) overhang on the top and bottom. Any wrinkles in the paper can be smoothed out using the plastic smoother. Strips should be lined up next to each other as carefully as possible.
Newcomers to hanging wallpaper may try to wallpaper by creasing a strip of paper and continuing onto the next wall, but this is not likely to succeed. Instead, cut the strip so that it only has 1/8 (3 mm) inch overlap past the corner, and begin a new strip for the next wall, with a 1/8 inch (3 mm) overlap as well.
When hanging wallpaper around windows and doors, hang the strip that meets the side of a window or door with an overlap of about 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) on the frame. Make horizontal cuts at the top of a door and at the top and bottom of a window. Smooth the paper around the bottom of the windowsill, around any molding that may exist.
Even the most careful wallpaper hanger can end up with some bubbles in the wallpaper. To smooth a bubble, wait until the glue is dry, and use a glue syringe to both pierce the bubble and inject glue into it. Then the area can be flattened with a plastic smoother.
Written by Bronwyn Harris
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