How to install traditional wallpaper
Prep the wall
Before hanging, check that the wall surface is clean, dry, and smooth. If your wall isn't smooth, you'll need to either size the wall or apply a wallpaper liner, which might require a primer layer as well. Please check wallpaper liner packaging instructions for details. Old wall coverings should be removed completely. Fill any holes, sand down bumps, and remove electrical coverings. Wallpaper primer (we recommend Shieldz Universal Wallcovering Primer) is also recommended for better installation and easier removal.
Gather your supplies
Wallpaper & wallpaper paste*
Sponge & bucket
Level & straightedge
Craft knife with extra blades
Paint roller & tray
Step ladder (depending on the height of your wall)
Apron or clothing with pockets to keep small tools handy while you work
*We recommend a basic wallpaper paste for coated wallpaper, such as heavy-duty clear vinyl adhesive. Do not "cut" the paste by adding additional water. We use Roman PRO-880.
Cut the wallpaper strips
Measure the height of the wall. Next, measure the wallpaper strip to equal the height of the wall plus 2 or 3 additional inches to allow for trimming. Consider where you want the pattern to hit the top of the wall as well, as this might affect where you cut the first strip. Cut the next strips the same length, being sure to allow for pattern repeat and matching.
Mark your starting point
Measure the width of the wallpaper roll. All of our traditional rolls are 27 inches wide. Starting from the corner of the wall farthest away from an entry or line of sight, measure the width of the wallpaper minus one inch (to allow for trimming on the wall edge) and mark with a pencil. Using a level, draw a straight, vertical plumb line from the mark against which you can line up the edge of the wallpaper.
Apply the paste
Apply paste to your pre-cut strip by first rolling it onto the middle of the sheet then working it to the edges. All of the paper should be pasted evenly along the full length and width of the sheet.
Book the wallpaper
"Book" the strip by folding the top and bottom edges into the middle (pasted side to pasted side), making sure the side edges line up properly. Then roll up the folded wallpaper like a newspaper to ensure that the edges do not curl out and dry prematurely. It should remain like this for 5-7 minutes to allow the paste to absorb and the paper to expand and relax back to its new normal. This will also keep the seams from opening up and drying out while the paper is relaxing.
Position the first strip
Line up the first strip with the plumb line (from Step 4), allowing for an inch on both the top, bottom, and edge for trimming.
Apply and smooth the wallpaper
Use a wallpaper brush or smoothing tool to gently work the paper onto the wall, working from the top and middle, down and out.
Trim the edges
Using a straightedge and craft knife, carefully trim the edges. You may need to change the blade frequently; it is important to keep the blade edge very sharp to minimize any risk of tearing the paper.
Apply the remaining strips
Be sure to match the pattern on the wall at eye level and butt the seams tightly up against each other without overlapping them. Smooth out all air bubbles. Wipe with warm water and a sponge, taking care to remove all the paste from the surface. Rinse thoroughly a second time with clean warm water. After hanging two strips, be sure to check again for any defects and contact us if any are found.
Note: Due to the handmade nature of our traditional wallpaper, it is important to match at eye level so that any slight adjustments or misalignments will be negated at the top and bottom of the wall. Most hand-printed papers suggest that you allow 1/8'' error in matching. We do much better, but you must allow for this type of match when considering a hand-printed paper.
Frequently asked questions
It's important to "book" each strip of wallpaper before applying it to the wall. Booking is simply folding the paper onto itself, pasted side to pasted side, and then gently rolling it like a newspaper, being careful not to crease the folds. Allow the paper to sit like this for 5-7 minutes.
Booking is important because it allows the paper to fully absorb the paste before being applied to the wall. This gives each strip time to relax to its final size so it can be hung properly without shrinkage and visible seams once it dries.
Due to the handmade nature of our products, all of our wallpapers need to be matched at eye level. That way, any slight misalignment in the pattern will be minimized, as they will fall at the top or bottom of the wall. Hand screen printed papers, like ours, can have up to a 1/8" allowance in pattern match at the seams. We do much better, but you must allow for this type of match with a hand screen printed paper.
Have a question?
Our wallpaper experts are happy to help.