DIY

How To Wallpaper Using the ‘Paste the Wall’ Method

I’ll be honest here and admit that I’m not a big fan of accent walls. To be fair, I used to be, but over time, I’ve grown to go by the philosophy: Go big or go home. Why do an accent when you can do a whole room? Why paint one wall black when you could paint all four? The same could be said for wallpaper, but I’m about to break my own rule. In fact, we just completed a wallpaper accent wall in our sleeping loft. Here she is (and we absolutely love it!):

Let me explain. While a whole wallpapered room would be a dramatic visual impact, I think that small nooks and unique architectural details (such as the pitched ceiling in our loft), can lend to a cozy and intimate feel when accented with color or pattern. Once Scott and I had the idea in our heads to wallpaper, we couldn’t shake it. The hardest part is deciding on the paper itself, but in the end, we chose a dreamy repeat pattern of trees, which draws our eyes out the window to the real trees below. We used the ‘paste the wall’ method, which is surprisingly intuitive! If you can paint a wall, you can wallpaper using this method.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Wallpaper
  • Bucket of water
  • Sponge
  • Wallpaper paste
  • Paint tray, roller + brush
  • Paper smoother
  • Wide putty knife or straight edge
  • Utility knife with fresh blades
  • Level
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Pencil

Here’s a step-by-step video to get you started:

Prep the Wall(s)

Start by giving yourself a clear path to the wall, and remove switch covers, light fixtures and art. You may want to repair any divots or imperfections with spackle, but if that’s not necessary, you’re ready to start wallpapering!

Measure and Cut Your First Length of Paper

After measuring the wall, add an additional 6-12” and cut your first length of paper. You’ll ultimately trim the excess.

Paste the Wall

We poured our adhesive directly into a paint tray and rolled the paste onto the wall – just as if we were painting it! For the corners and edges, I used a paint brush to completely cover the wall with adhesive. When pasting the wall, make sure to cover an additional half-width of paper so that the entire strip of paper will rest on the glue.

Apply Your First Strip of Wallpaper

It’s time to wallpaper! Apply your first strip of wallpaper and use a level along one edge to make sure you’re aligned. You will have a small window of time to move the paper, but if you find that you’re really misaligned, it may be best to remove the paper completely, take a deep breath, and smooth the strip onto the wall again.

Sponge, Smooth and Trim

Once your paper is up and level, use a paper smoother to remove any air bubbles and flatten the edges. Use a light touch, but rest assured knowing that wallpaper is tough and can stretch ever-so-slightly.

Follow this with a damp sponge to remove excess glue; this is when that bucket of water is going to come in handy! Finally, it’s time to trim the excess. I find that using a wide putty knife helps to give me the straightest cut. With the knife against the wall and trim/ceiling, I used a sharp utility knife to score and cut away the excess paper at the top and bottom.

Repeat

It’s now time for the second length of paper – and the third, fourth and so on! Make sure to level every new piece and match your seams.

Maneuver Around the Obstacles

There are a few obstacles you’ll likely encounter, such as windows and outlets. In the case of a window, it’s helpful to have two people. Before pasting the wall, Scott or I would hold up the next length of paper while the other cut around the window, making sure to leave an extra couple of inches. Those excess inches were trimmed after the paste and paper were applied.

Outlets are a little easier (I promise)! Paste the wall and apply the paper as usual, and then feel for the area where you have an outlet or light switch. Using a sharp blade, cut an ‘X’ into the paper and fold back the flaps. Cut along the outside of the junction box. The outlet and switch covers will completely hide those freshly cut edges.

Celebrate!

You’ve just wallpapered! Take a moment to step back and enjoy your work. Wallpaper has the ability to add so much dimension to a space, and this example was no exception. Here’s how the wall looked before paper:

And here’s the same space now:

Somehow, the ceiling looks taller, and the space more whimsical. This will be such a special treat for the kids in our family to have sleepovers, play and make memories.

Now, go forth and wallpaper! You can do it.

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