How Do You Hang Or Remove Wallpaper?

There are few things that add just the right decorative touch to a room as wallpaper. There are also few things as frustrating if you don’t follow the right procedures. If you don’t know what you are doing, hanging wallpaper can be a nightmare that will swear you off from printed designs for the rest of your life. I have friends who have taken an oath never to use the stuff again. As if hanging it isn’t bad enough, removing it can be just as frustrating. So how do you hang or remove wallpaper without losing your sanity?

In all seriousness, dealing with wallpaper is not that difficult if you do it right the first time. Like most home improvement jobs, you need the right tools. You also need to know the right steps and follow then carefully.

Tools For Hanging Wallpaper

In order to hang wallpaper, you will need the following basic tools:

  • Wallpaper Paste
  • Roller or brush
  • Level
  • Measuring Tape
  • Seam Roller
  • Brushes for smoothing
  • Sandpaper
  • Sponges
  • Rags
  • Drop Cloth
  • Razor Knife
  • Smoothing tool
  • Water Tray
  • Step Ladder
  • Spackling
  • Pencil
  • Wallpaper (either prepasted or unpasted)

How To Hang Wallpaper


Step 1: The first thing to do before you hang wallpaper is to inspect the wall. It needs to be as smooth as possible. You will need to sand over any rough spots and cover any holes or cracks with spackling. Use a brush or air hose to clean off any excess dust from your wall. If needed, you can use warm water and a mild detergent to wash the walls. Dirt and grease will repel wallpaper paste. Also, if the wall is newly plastered, you will need to use a primer sealant on it and allow it to dry for about 24 hours before applying any wallpaper to it. And don’t forget to shut off the electricity and remove any electrical outlet plates. Shutting the power off is important so water doesn’t drip into the outlets and spark a fire.

Step 2: Start in a corner and measure the width of the wallpaper. Use a pencil and a measuring tape to mark on the wall the width of the paper minus a half an inch. Take the level and draw a vertical line on the wall where the edge of the paper will go. This is your plumb line and will make sure that your paper stays level. You can mark every width line on the wall now or you can mark each one as you hang the wallpaper.

Step3: Measure the height of the wall. Cut your first strip of wallpaper that same length but add two inches to both the top and bottom of the paper. This will be the overhang that you can trim after the paper is hung. If there is a definite pattern on the paper, figure out beforehand where you want the pattern to start on the wall.

Step 4: If you are using an unpasted wallpaper, you want to lay the paper down on a long flat surface, preferably with the drop cloth underneath it to prevent any mess. Make sure the unpasted side is face up and the printed side is face down. Take either a roller or brush and apply the wallpaper paste to the unpasted side. Use a thin coat. Any lumps will show through the paper.

If you are using a prepasted wallpaper, then you will need to soak the paper using the water tray. The best method of doing this is to roll the wallpaper up with the prepasted side showing. Next gently submerge the roll in the water for the amount of time indicated in the wallpaper instructions. Once it is thoroughly soaked, gently unroll it from the try and make sure the prepaste side is saturated.

Step 5: This next part is something that many do-it-yourselfers don’t know. You need to ‘book’ your wallpaper. How this works is you take your strip of wallpaper and you fold one end towards the middle, paste side towards the paste side. You then take the other end and fold it to the middle as well, also with paste facing paste. Don’t crease the wallpaper, though. After that, gently roll the strip in a loose tube. By doing this, it helps for the paste to become active and gives the paper a chance to return to its original width.

Step 6: After the booked paper has had a chance to set for a few minutes, take the roll and unfold the top. While leaving about two inches of overhang at the top, line the paper on the wall along the plumb line. Use a smoothing tool to gently press the wallpaper to the wall. Next unfold the bottom half and make sure it lines up with the plumb line. Smooth it to the wall as well. There should be about two inches of overlap at the bottom, too. By using the smoothing tool, smooth the wallpaper diagonally and then across, making sure you get all of the air bubbles out of the paper. Then take some warm water and a sponge and wash any excess paste off the paper. Once the paper has been smoothed out, take your razor knife and carefully trim the excess from the top and bottom.

Step 7: Repeat this process with each strip but be sure not to overlap each strip. You want the individual strips to touch without covering anything up. If there is a distinctive pattern to the wallpaper, pay close attention to make sure the pattern lines up properly on each strip. You can use a seam roller to roll out the seams where the strips line up with each other. Try not to leave any raised edges as these can let in moisture. If there are any electrical outlets on a wall, just cover them up. You can go back later with your razor knife and carefully cut out around the outlet.

Tools For Removing Wallpaper

Now you have mastered the fine art if hanging wallpaper. But sooner or later, you will want to remove it. Then you will be angry that you did such a good job of pasting it to the wall. But don’t worry. Removing wallpaper is actually easier than hanging it. Again, you just need the right tools. And patience. Here is what you will need.

  • Bucket
  • Roller
  • Sponges or brushes
  • HOT water!
  • A commercial stripping solution or vinegar
  • A perforator
  • Dropcloth
  • Scraper

How To Remove Wallpaper

Step 1: Some people like to perforate the wallpaper so the stripping solution can get in behind the paper better and go to work on the paste. You don’t have to do this but if you come across some really tough wallpaper, it might be a good idea.

Step 2: Take the bucket and fill it with really hot water, about as hot as you can stand it. The warm water is important for dissolving the paste. You can mix the commercial stripping solution in the water according to the directions on the bottle. Another good alternative (and a cheaper one) is to use vinegar. Mix the bucket with about 80% water to 20% vinegar.

Step 3: Take everything off the walls such as electrical outlets plates. Take all of the furniture out of the room and shut off the electricity to the room. Put your drop cloth down on the floor because this is going to get messy.

Step 4: If you are really lucky, you used some of the new kind of wallpaper that is dry-strippable. This means that the wallpaper can be peeled off without using any water or solution. You will still need a scraper to remove any tough pieces. But most likely, you have used the regular wallpaper and that means you have to get it wet. To do this, take a roller, dip it in the bucket of hot water solution, and roll the wallpaper as if you were painting it. You want to make sure you get every bit of the surface good and wet. Only do a section at a time or else the paper will dry out before you can get to all of it.

Step 5: Once the wallpaper has been saturated with the hot water solution, take the scraper and start scraping. Hopefully, the wallpaper will peel off in long strips. If not, you may have to take it off in small bits and strips. Start at a seam and work at an angle to the paper. Use a wide scraper to get under the paper and try to peel it of with your fingers. If the wallpaper has been up for a long time, it may be tough to remove. You may have to wet a section multiple times to get all of the paper off. If your bucket starts to cool off, mix up a new hot solution.

Step 6: Once you have all of the wallpaper off, let them dry. Then come back with the water solution and wash down the walls to remove all traces of glue. Don’t get them too wet or you may weaken the drywall underneath. If you plan on painting the walls or re-wallpapering them, you may have to sand down any trace remains of glue and apply a sealant to the walls for the wallpaper.