wallpaper installation tips

wallpaper installation tips
Vintage Versus Vintage-Style

Throughout this page you will learn all about wallpaper installation. For the Love of Wallpaper™ builds upon the past of our partner, U.S. Wallcovering. They have been installing all types of wallpaper, especially vintage wallpaper, for more than a century (since 1905). In that span of time, they have dealt with many installation problems and found the right techniques for every product and wall surface.

Most of our vintage wallpaper patterns are vintage-style, not dating from the 1950s and older. This is good news as our vintage-style patterns are vinyl-coated, making them more durable than older vintage patterns. Our vintage-style patterns also do not require special handling or paste. We offer the best in Purchase-On-Line options with many Floral Vintage, Bathroom Vintage, Kitchen Vintage and Children’s Vintage Wallpaper.

Wall Currently Has
No Wallpaper

If there is not paper on the wall, first prepare the wall with a good Primer. If the wall has been primed, you should patch rough spots and smooth them out. Note: If the wall is white and the patch is white, just prime the patch. If the wall is another color from the patch, prime the entire wall with a block-out primer. This prevents color bleed through when you apply the paper.


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

Wall Has Wallpaper

If there is already paper on the wall, test the state of the wall surface. It is very easy to do this.

Wall Test

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

1. The paper 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 paper 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 and prime the wall with an oil-based or acrylic primer. The way to deal with conditions 1), 2), and 3) is the same except that 3) calls for use of a special tool called a Paper Tiger or Piranha which opens up the pores of the paper and aids action by the follow-up liquid.

Wallpaper Removal Technique
As easy as 1-2-3


Cover floors with drop cloths or plastic. Put warm liquid on the walls with a sponge or garden-sprayer. The sprayer is best 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 suggest 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.


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


Wash the wall with warm water and then apply one final coat of water mixed with a little bit of Clorox to limit mold spores.

Preparing the Wall

After all the paper is off and the wall is washed, you are ready to prep it for the new paper. The wall does not have to be primed again if it was primed before the first layer of wallpaper was applied. But, if you have any doubt as to the state of the wall, it is best to apply a primer coat. This will make future wallpaper removal go smoothly.

There are three types of primer: Oil-based, Acrylic and Alcohol-based. If applying acrylic primer, it is possible to paper 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 putting up new paper.

Seam and Repair Adhesives

If you have an edge or a seam that needs repairing, Seam and Repair Adhesive is best 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 make it elastic and flexible. Then, apply the adhesive to the seam.

Border Application on Bare Walls or Over Wallcovering


Re-roll border so it is pattern against pattern. If the border is pre-pasted, place in a bucket of warm water and 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 paste and accordion-fold the border paste against paste. Let it relax for five minutes.

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

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

Applying border on Wallpaper: Prepare border as in the basic process above. Use Vinyl-Over-Vinyl Adhesive on the wall. Apply a thin bead on the paper and use your hand to spread it over the surface . Wash hands and put border over paste. 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.

Many of the products sold by For the Love of Wallpaper are vintage-style and often 10-20 years old. Thus, 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 reduce the need for wall repair and make bad walls look like new again. Heavy weight liner may be used over cement block, brick, ceramic tile, heavily textured walls or v-grooved paneling. When new wallcovering is put up, 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 or vertically. When using the double cut technique, the seams will not show. Before applying the wall liner, prime the surface, then add the wall liner and then apply primer to the liner. Liner is packaged in double rolls that are 27 inches wide and 24 feet in length.

Wallpaper Installation Tips

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 ways to install wallcovering.

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


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 time to be spent booking wallcovering (paper or borders) is longer than it states on the product packaging instructions.


The use of activators is important to the success of the wallpaper project. This is especially true with vintage-style wallpaper. Using activators extends the amount of time you can work with the paper in order to get just the right seam match.


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 a common wallcovering tool, for installation of newer pre-pasted border patterns where you can be surer of the holding quality of the pre-pasted paste.


Always work towards the main entrance when installing wallpaper. ​


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.​


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.


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 install.

Start with an Easy Piece

Always start with an easy piece–one that requires little cutting. If the job is not completed in 1 day, don’t stop just before a hard piece. Instead, stop before an easy piece so you start with an easy piece when you return to the project.

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.​

Trimming around Windows, Baseboards, Doors, etc.

Make certain you use a sharp blade. We use 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 not getting a true cut, possibly resulting in a paper tear. Change the blade often.


Although brushes and plastic smoothers are the two tools used for smoothing paper to the wall surface, we prefer 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.


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.