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Simple Wallpaper Tips

Deciding to wallpaper can be scary for the beginner, but it doesn’t have to be if you keep a few things in mind before you start. Thoroughly read this list of tips and be on your way to wallpapering like a pro.

# Use Lining Paper

Consider hanging a medium-weight lining paper on the wall before hanging your wallpaper. Lining paper will prevent the wallpaper from creasing or stretching and help the paste to dry faster. Plus, it will give you good practice for hanging paper if you’re just beginning.

# Hide Alignment Mistakes

Apply a one-inch stripe of white paint along the top of the wall before wallpapering over dark paint or wallpaper. This way, it won’t be as noticeable if your wallpaper fails to align exactly at the top of the wall.

# Get Your Tools First

Gather all your necessary tools before starting. These will include a seam roller, wallpaper smoother or brush, a carpenter’s level, a few push pins, steel tape measure, scissors, a long tray filled two-thirds full with lukewarm water, a wet sponge, a bucket of water, a broad putty knife, and a utility knife.

# Use Plastic Instead of Newspaper

Don’t use newspapers to cover your pasting table. The ink from the wet newspaper could stain the wallpaper and make it unusable. Instead of risking the waste, cover the table with a plastic tablecloth or dropcloth instead.

# Use a Plumb Bob or Level to Keep Your Wallpaper Straight

House walls are not usually perfect right angles. To ensure that your wallpaper is straight, you will need to make a plumb line from which you measure the alignment of the paper. This can be done by using a special device called a plumb bob or a carpenter’s level.

Even if you use a plumb bob to make your first line, keep a carpenter’s level handy. Use it to double-check that your wallpaper is straight. Otherwise, it could be several strips too late by the time you notice. A carpenter’s level can also help you cut straighter when you are cutting strips from the roll.

# Cut Extra to Match Patterns

Your first wallpaper strip should be about four inches longer than the height of the wall. Strips after that should be at least two inches longer on the top and bottom but may need to be longer than the first one to ensure that the pattern matches.

# Lay Cut Strips on the Floor

Once you’ve measured and cut the first strip—and you’re positive it’s the correct size—lay it flat out on the floor and measure the next strip. Make sure there is enough space at the top and bottom of the second strip that the patterns line up correctly. You can use a pencil to label the back of the wallpaper if you are preparing several strips at a time (the pencil markings won’t disappear when the paper gets wet). Laying it all out on the floor is much easier than trying to do it on the walls.

# Don’t Fold Strips Into Fourths

When booking a strip (allowing a strip to “relax” after the adhesive is activated with water), don’t fold it into fourths. It is easier to hang paper if there is a smaller portion at the top. This way, you can unfold the smaller portion and position the paper before unfolding the larger portion.

# Keep Booking Strips in a Plastic Bag

To ensure your paper doesn’t dry out while it is booking, enclose it in a large plastic bag. This is also useful if you plan on booking several strips at one time.

# Cut Power to Switches and Outlets

Turn off the power in the room before papering around switches and receptacles. Then, paper over them as if they were not there and make a diagonal slit from opposite corners. Trim away the triangular flaps and replace the cover plate.

# Double-Check for Imperfections Early

Double or even triple-check newly hung strips for bubbles and seam matches. Bubbles need to be smoothed out as early as possible, and seams should be adjusted before the glue has too long to set.

# Take Care of Excess Adhesive

Use your sponge to wipe any excess adhesive off the wallpaper, ceiling, and baseboards. Make sure you rinse the sponge often and thoroughly to remove as much of the glue as possible before additional use.

# Sharpen Your Tools

Make sure your utility knife is sharp before trimming. Dull knives will cause the wallpaper to tear and could lead to uneven lines or damaged wallpaper.

# Trim Paper Carefully

Keep a broad putty knife between the wallpaper and the blade when trimming. This will protect the paper and ensure a straight cut. Also, don’t lift the knife blade until you’re done with the cut.

An alternative way to trim wallpaper is to use the back of a scissors blade to mark the angles on the wall covering. Then, pull the paper away from the wall and trim it along the marked line with a scissors. Only attempt this if you can cut a straight line.

# Use Push Pins

Push pins will keep long strips of border or paper secure. Place the pin in a lighter colored portion of the paper to minimize the chances of it showing. After removing it, run the seam roller over the paper to smooth out the hole.

# Use a Special Adhesive for Borders

You will need a special paste if you plan to hang border on top of your wallpaper. You should let the wallpaper dry at least 48 hours before hanging the wallpaper border.

# Paper Your Faceplates to Match

Faceplates are easy to paper. Find a scrap of paper that matches the area of the wall next to the faceplate. Once you’ve matched it, trim the paper so it is about one inch wider than the plate. You might want to sand or prime the faceplate before applying the wallpaper, but this is not always necessary. Lay the paper over the faceplate and check to see that it aligns. Then, cut the paper so that it is one-half inch wider than the plate. Wet the paper and lay it over the plate. With your utility knife cut a small X (if it is a receptacle plate) or a line (if it is a switch plate) where the holes are. Double check that the paper aligns before trimming the excess paper away. Cut off the corners of the paper and fold the edges around the sides. Trim the openings and use a nail to poke holes where the screws will go. Reinstall the plate.