I know most of us that have bought fixer uppers end up having to remove wallpaper, but sometimes adding wallpaper is a great way to revamp a space and deal with pesky textured walls.
Wallpaper is a good choice for a small space such as a bathroom because it’s less wall space to cover so it’ll be a quick makeover.
Today I’ll walk you through some basics of using pre-pasted wallpaper to modernize a space—I’m using it to update my tiny guest bathroom. I ordered the majority of the supplies needed from my local True Value—the products worked well, were easy to use and very affordable.
-Pre-pasted wallpaper (textured wallpaper is great for uneven walls or heavily texture walls—I chose a faux grasscloth)
-Utility knife with plenty of blades
-Paint roller (I always use Purdy roller covers)
-Tube of wallpaper paste/seam repairer
Step 1: Prime your walls.
You’ll want to prime your walls so your wallpaper has a good clean surface to stick to. This is a step you won’t want to skip, trust me.
Step 2: Measure your walls.
I am not putting wallpaper all the way from ceiling to floor—I’m only wallpapering about 1/3 of the way so I can do a board and batten treatment. I measured how long my wallpaper would be from the ceiling to the point where I wanted my board and batten to start. Add about 4-inches to that measurement to allow for trimming. I pre-cut all my strips, BUT if you do this make sure your walls don’t have any high points that would require a longer length. I usually take measurements at 3 points on the wall to ensure it all works.
Step 3: Wet the wallpaper.
You can either use a wallpaper prep tray OR use a shower wand and a bathtub. Since I was in my bathroom working already, I opted for the latter. You have to essentially drench the backside of the wallpaper for it to activate the paste.
Then, it’s time to let the wallpaper “book” by folding the ends onto itself like this:
Your wallpaper roll will tell you how long to let it book—for mine it said 10 minutes. Another wallpaper I used last year took 15.
Step 4: Apply your first strip of wallpaper.
I always start at the spot that is most un-noticeable or hidden. By the time you perfect your technique, you’ll be at the spot that’s most visible.
You can use your straight edge or a level as guide, or you can eyeball it. If you have a geometric/striped pattern, I’d do a chalk line to ensure it’s 100% straight or else your pattern will end up crooked at some point. For my wallpaper, I just eyeballed it.
Unbook one half of your wallpaper and smooth it onto the wall making sure to leave about 1-2” of excess (the bottom half should still be folded in):
Once your wallpaper is on the wall, move it into place making sure you do not stress the paper out by stretching it a lot—it WILL shrink when it dries, so if it’s totally out of place remove it from the wall and try again. When the wallpaper is wet, you have a long time to work with it…but don’t stretch the paper! Trust me on this, folks!
Once you have the top half in place perfectly, unfold the bottom and smooth it out. I use the sponge to soak up all the excess glue and water followed by a few strokes with the wallpaper smoother. Make sure when you use the wallpaper smoother, you don’t move around your wallpaper. Smooth out air bubbles to the nearest edge to let the air escape.
Step 5: Seams, corners and obstacles.
When you’re putting up wallpaper, your seams should butt up together and NOT overlap. A seam roller helps make seams less noticeable, but seams are just a natural part of wallpaper, especially grasscloth.
Corners are a little tricky, especially if your corners aren’t perfectly square/90-degrees (mine are more rounded, oddly enough). Here’s where your edges will overlap a bit by a ¼ inch or so, and you’ll need to use a bead of wallpaper paste to glue the edge down.
Light switches may seem intimidating, but they’re fairly easy with some relief cuts:
Now that I have my X-cut on my light switch area, I can use scissors to trim off the 4 triangles I created. Once the wallpaper is dry, I put the plate cover on, and I’m back in business.
Around things such as door casing or windows, I use my straight edge butted up against the casing to form a straight line for my utility knife to cut off the excess. This is also what I do when trimming the excess wallpaper at the ceiling. Cutting wallpaper will dull your blade quickly—I only use a blade for about 3-4 cuts before switching it out. Seems excessive, but it’s a small price to pay—dull blades can tear your wallpaper and undo all your hard work. Sharp blades are the best.
Overall, putting up wallpaper isn’t nearly as tedious as you might think as long as you have patience and a free afternoon. It’s a rewarding way to add pizazz, color and texture to your walls in a way simple interior paint can’t accomplish.
I still have to do to the board and batten and replace the doors and mirror, but for now here’s a sneak peek:
Since we’re replacing the doorjamb, I went ahead and popped off the old door casing, as seen above.
I’m carrying the board and batten moldings all around, and I think the bathroom will have a simple, bright, beachy vibe. The grasscloth wallpaper reminds me of some of my favorite hotels in the Gulf Coast region where I live.
Wallpaper doesn’t have to be so 1980’s when you use it in a fresh, modern and simple way. If you have any questions, or need some advice, feel free to drop them in the comments section!
I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.