Wallpaper Installation Tips

For the Love of Wallpaper™ builds the knowledge of U.S. Wallcovering personnel who are experienced in installing all types of wallpaper, especially vintage wallpaper. An advantage of being associated with a wallcovering company that has been in business for more than a century (since 1905) is that in that span of time they have encountered a variety of installation challenges and perfected the right wallpaper installation techniques for every possible combination of product and wall surface condition.

Most patterns we advertise as vintage wallpaper are actually vintage-style wallpaper, not original vintage patterns from the 1950s and older. This is good news for you as our vintage-style patterns are typically vinyl-coated, much more durable than original vintage patterns. Our vintage-style patterns also do not require special handling or special adhesives or paste. They offer the best in Purchase-On-Line options with a special emphasis on Floral Vintage Wallpaper, Bathroom Vintage Wallpaper. Kitchen Vintage Wallpaper and Children’s Vintage Wallpaper.

Wall Currently Has No Wallpaper

If there is not wallpaper currently on the wall, first prepare the wall with a good Primer. If the wall has previously been primed, you want to prime over any areas that have been patched to smooth imperfections. Note: If the wall is white and the patch is white, it is just necessary to prime the patch. If the wall is a different color from the patch, we suggest you prime the entire wall with a block-out primer, preventing color bleed through when you apply the wallpaper.

Wall Liner

You want to create a smooth surface to ensure the best wallpaper installation technique. For example, in the case of stucco-type finish, or poor condition that requires more than just minimal patching. The easiest way to achieve a perfectly smooth wall finish is to prime the wall, install wall liner, and then prime the wall liner, creating a brand new wall. Read more information about the use of wall liner in the “Wall Liner is the Best Solution for Problem Walls” section below.

Wall Currently Has Wallpaper

If there is already wallpaper on the wall, test the condition of the underlying wall surface. It is very easy to do this.

Wall Test:

Make 2 score-lines (don’t actually cut all the way to the wall) 12-inches apart, wet the wallpaper surface, let it sit for a few minutes and then try to peel the wallpaper layer away from the wall. One of four results will occur.

  1. The wallpaper will be strippable and whole sheets will come off.
  2. The wallpaper will be peelable and the top layer will come off in big pieces.
  3. The wallpaper will come off in little pieces at a time.
  4. The wallpaper does not come off easily and the dry wall turns into mush when water is applied. If this occurs stop the test, patch test area over with spackle compound and prime the wall with an oil-based or acrylic primer.

The process for dealing with conditions 1), 2), and 3) is the same with the only difference being that 3) calls for use of a special tool called a Paper Tiger or Piranha which opens up the pores of the paper and facilitates action by the follow-up liquid.

Wallpaper Removal Technique. As easy as 1-2-3

1- Cover floors with drop cloths or plastic. Put warm liquid on the walls with a sponge or garden-sprayer. The sprayer is recommended because it covers the largest area. The liquid can be plain water or water mixed with wetting agents such as fabric softener, dishwasher liquid or white vinegar. We recommend a wetting agent be used to slow evaporation. Apply the liquid. Five minutes later apply it again. Five minutes later apply it a third time. Let the liquid do the work for you.

2- Apply the liquid to three strips at a time and then re-wet them several times as you develop a system for removal. Use a wide blade putty knife to remove the wallpaper.

3- Wash the wall thoroughly with warm water and then apply one final coat of water mixed with a little bit of Clorox to inhibit spore development.

After all the wallpaper is removed and the wall is washed, you are ready to prepare it for the new wallpaper. It is not necessary to prime the wall again if it was properly primed before the first layer of wallpaper was applied. But, if you have any doubt as to the condition of the wall it is best to apply a primer coat to make future wallpaper removal go smoothly.

There are three types of primer: Oil-based, Acrylic and Alcohol-based. Refer to the section on primers for more detailed information. If applying acrylic primer, it is possible to prime the wall after two hours. If using an alcohol-based or oil-based primer it is best to allow the wall to dry 12 hours between final wash down and application of primer.

Seam and Repair Adhesives

If you have an edge or a seam that needs to be repaired, Seam and Repair Adhesive is suited for small scale fix-ups. The best way to apply this product is to take a warm washcloth and warm up the curled seam to get elasticity and flexibility into the paper and then apply the adhesive to the seam.

Border Application on Bare Walls or Over Wallcovering

Basic Process:

Re-roll border so it is pattern against pattern. If the border is pre-pasted, place in a bucket of warm water and immediately start taking it out 2 feet at a time and accordion-fold it paste against paste. Let it relax for five minutes. If the border is not pre-pasted, apply a vinyl adhesive and accordion-fold the border paste against paste and let it relax for five minutes.

For applying border On Flat-Painted Walls: After five minutes apply directly to the wall.

Border On Semi-Gloss or Gloss Painted Walls: Instead of dipping in water, apply border over paste adhesive directly to the border with a roller, use the accordion-fold technique and let the border rest five minutes before applying to the wall.

Applying border on Wallcovering: Prepare border described in the basic process above. Use Vinyl-Over-Vinyl Adhesive on the wall. Apply in a thin bead on the wallcovering and use your hand to rub it over the area. Wash hands and put border over adhesive. Wash off excess paste with water. If Vinyl-Over-Vinyl Adhesive dries on the border, use a sponge with warm water to clean it off.

Since many of the products sold by For the Love of Wallpaper are vintage-style and usually 10-20 years old, it is always a good idea to use paste, even if the border is marked as pre-pasted. Paste ensures a good bond.

Wall Liner is the Best Solution for Problem Walls.

Blank stock, non-woven wall liner is an ideal bridging material that will minimize wall repair and make troubled walls look like new again. Heavy weight liner may be used directly over primed cement block, brick, ceramic tile, heavily textured walls or v-grooved paneling. When new wallcovering is hung or paint is applied, the walls will look smooth and even. Liner is easy to hang. Using a pre-mixed, clay-based adhesive, the liner may be hung horizontally (railroading) or vertically. When the liner is hung using the double cut technique, and then primed, the seams will not show. Before applying the wall liner, prime the surface followed by wall liner and followed by an additional coat of primer. Commercial liner is packaged in double rolls that are 27 inches wide and 24 feet in length.

Hanging wallcovering, whether wallpaper or borders, is really easy using the right techniques. At For the Love of Wallpaper™ we have years of experience teaching customers simple, effective ways to install wallcovering.

Following are just a few of the tips we have passed on to students just like yourself to ensure a perfect wallpaper, border or mural installation

  1. Booking.

Booking refers to the ‘accordian folding’ of paper (paste side to paste side) after you have applied the paste or activated pre-pasted products by submerging them in water. The actual time to be spent booking wallcovering (paper or borders) is longer than indicated on the instructions typically included in product packaging.

  1. Activators.

Incorporating the use of activators is important to the success of the wallpaper installation job. This is especially true with vintage wallpaper sidewalls. Using activators extends the amount of time you can work with the paper and get just the right seam match.

  1. Water Box.

Use of a water box helps contain water and limit excess dripping on floor surfaces. However, it is more apt to dry the paper out, resulting in curling edges or shrinking seams. Still, it is an effective wallcovering tool, especially for installation of newer pre-pasted border patterns where you can be surer of the holding quality of the pre-pasted paste.

  1. Where to Start.

Always work towards the main entrance when installing wallpaper.

  1. Advanced Techniques for doing Corners.

Corners are easy if you follow our instructions. Never seam paper at a corner. Run paper around the corner and then paper over it coming from the other direction.

  1. Seams.

The proper way to smooth paper so that seams match and don’t shrink in the future is to work from the middle of the strip towards the preceding seam.

  1. Wall Dimensions.

No walls are perfect so there is always a difference in dimensions. Make certain you measure each wall carefully to ensure no surprises as you begin your wallpaper installation.

  1. Start with an Easy Piece.

Always start with an easy piece–one that requires a minimum of cutting or adapting. If the job is not completed in 1 day, don’t stop just before a difficult piece–instead stop before an easy piece so you start with an easy piece when you return to the project.

  1. Never Start in a Corner.

Never start applying paper in a corner because then you would see a gap. Go around the corner by 1 inch. For example, if it is 10 inches to the corner cut an 11 inch piece.

  1. Trimming around Windows, Baseboards, Doors, etc.

Make certain you use a sharp blade. We recommend a snap off cutter. It is best to use a 6” putty knife as a guide for all trimming. Using a window guide, you run the risk of bridging a gap at some point and not getting a true cut possibly resulting in a paper tear. Change the blade often.

  1. Smoothing Paper.

Although brushes and plastic smoothers are the most common tools used for smoothing paper to the wall surface, we recommend use of a plastic smoother for most jobs. If you use a brush and it is not clean, you could damage the paper.

Vintage wallpaper is easy to install and easy to remove by following the correct techniques and using the correct tools.


Other Helpful Tools:

Looking for other patterns of wallpaper to install? Visit our eBay store.

Wondering how many rolls you will need for your project? Click here for a simple calculating tool.