We’re calling it: wallpaper is not just a trend, it’s here to stay. It comes in colors and prints and textures to suit just your style, and in some cases it’s removable (perfect for renters).
Wallpaper installation may sound like a hassle, but the right pro will make it look easy. We asked industry veteran (and Thumbtack Top Pro) Celso Silva of CS Painting and Wallpaper to show us how a pro approaches the art of hanging wallpaper. Read on for Celso’s step-by-step, including insider tricks for measuring and cutting and expert handling of a wall smoother. (And watch it on Facebook here.)
1. Choose your wallpaper
Wallpaper comes in all sorts of materials: cloth, woven grass, vinyl, bamboo and more. Consider the pattern and material you want, recommends Celso, and then consult with a pro before you purchase, as each type of wallpaper responds differently when applied.
For this installation, Celso used a woven wallpaper with a peel and stick adhesive backing—a great choice for beginners to the world of wallpapering. Also, the small, light-colored pattern he used is simple and forgiving.
2. Prep your space
The key to wallpaper that won’t damage your walls is preparation and primer, explains Celso. A pro will make sure your walls are thoroughly cleaned and apply the primer recommended by the wallpaper manufacturer. Renters take note: Priming is crucial if you eventually need to put the walls back in their original condition.
3. Prep the wallpaper
Figure out how many rolls of wallpaper you’ll need based on the square footage of the room. You may want to get an additional roll if you have a complicated design. In general, a standard accent wall takes two rolls of paper, explains Celso. If you didn’t order pre-cut paper, now’s the time to cut the strips, adding several inches to the top and bottom to allow for pattern matching.
4. Start installation
Pros usually start in the top, lefthand corner of the room, says Celso, laying the wallpaper flush with the ceiling and the corner of the room. A pro working alone might use blue painter’s tape to secure the paper at the top, letting the rest of the roll hang loose, then slowly roll the adhesive down one inch at a time off the back, smoothing the sticky side of the paper onto the wall as you go.
5. Hang the second row
The second row is straightforward if the first row was applied evenly, using the corner and ceiling as a 90-degree angle. For the second row, it’s good to have a helper hold the paper. Your pro will align the edge of the new roll with the seam of the existing roll and gently smooth it into place, removing the adhesive horizontally one inch at a time from the back and repeating the process until the wall is complete.
6. Keep it tidy
You don’t want any bubbles or gaps, even a millimeter. Using the smoothing tool frequently is a must for uniform application. A pro will be very careful with the horizontal motion on the smoother, says Celso—too much pressure can shift the paper out of alignment.
7. Cut the paper
There may be excess wallpaper along the bottom baseboard once the paper is up. A pro will use the smoother to hold the paper firmly in place, then trim the excess with a snap blade using steady strokes.
8. Finishing touches
It’s important to clean the wall and wipe away excess paste or glue. A pro will also go back and look for bubbles at the bottom and the top. If the wallpaper isn’t too delicate, a sponge can help smooth out the surface and remove any glue or paste.
Most of all, says Celso, pros are patient. They take their time lining up the seams, finding the plumb line and making sure each strip lines up perfectly with the last so you can enjoy your new wallpaper.
Celso Silva and his assistant, Vitor Mafra de Oliveira.