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How to Wallpaper a Feature Wall

Creating a focal point elevates the mood and style of any space. One method that packs major "wow" factor is a wallpapered feature wall. With a little bit of pre-planning and concise application, this interior design technique can be mastered in a weekend for decor that can be enjoyed for decades.

Adding wallpaper to a wall in your room creates a budget-friendly focal point.

Creating a focal point elevates the mood and style of any space. One method that packs major "wow" factor is a wallpapered feature wall. With a little bit of pre-planning and concise application, this interior design technique can be mastered in a weekend for decor that can be enjoyed for decades.

    Specially formulated wallpaper primer ensures easy application and a long-lasting finish.
  1. Prep your feature wall by first removing all outlet covers and wiping the wall down with a clean, dry towel to remove dust and debris. Then paint on two coats of clear wallpaper primer right on top of the existing paint.

  2. Pour a liberal amount of primer into a paint tray (the exact amount will depend on the size of your wall), and then use a paintbrush to cut in at the top, bottom and sides of the wall. Use a paint roller to coat the remainder of the wall with primer. Allow each coat to dry for one hour before putting on the next. After the last coat, allow the primer to dry overnight.

  3. Cut a piece of wallpaper off the roll that is 6 inches longer on each end.
  4. Measure the height of your wall and note the number. On a clean, dry section of flooring, unroll the wallpaper and measure out to the height of the wall. Then add an extra 12 inches to allow for 6 inches of overhang on either end. Finish by cutting the strip off with a razor blade.

  5. Choose a high quality wallpaper paste to ensure a strong bond between wallpaper and wall.
  6. Pour wallpaper paste into a clean, dry paint tray. With your wallpaper laid out on a clean, dry, flat surface (such as your floor) and with the backside of the wallpaper strip facing up, cover the entire surface in a thin and even layer of paste, using a roller.

  7. It's OK to get the paste on your flat surface or floor as you roll it over the outside edges of the wallpaper strip. Just have a bucket of cleaning solution and a sponge nearby to wipe it up after lifting the paper up and off of your flat surface.

  8. Booking the wallpaper allows the paste to activate and become tacky.
  9. Take each end of the wallpaper and fold it in toward the center so that none of the backside of the wallpaper is showing. This is called "booking" the paper. Allow the wallpaper to sit like this for five minutes.

  10. Situate the wallpaper against the wall with several inches of overhang on each end.
  11. Unbook the wallpaper and, while holding the topmost two corners, climb onto a stepladder and situate the edge at the top of the wall where it meets the ceiling. Take advantage of the extra inches and allow for overhang on either end — both the top of the wallpaper strip and the bottom. Smooth loosely with your hands.

  12. Use a squeegee to work out bubbles that may form under the wallpaper.
  13. Use a squeegee and then a slightly damp, clean sponge to straighten the wallpaper and to gently work out any bubbles that may have formed while hanging the strip. Finish by using a utility knife and straightedge to trim off the excess wallpaper at the top and at the bottom where it meets the molding.

  14. Repeat the steps across the wall until you reach the end.
  15. Repeat the steps across the entire wall, cutting additional strips of wallpaper, pasting, booking and hanging them in the same manner. To match up a pattern, unroll the wallpaper and hold it up on the wall without pasting it. After the pattern lines up, make a mark with a pencil at the top and the bottom of the wallpaper strip to denote your cuts later on (don't forget to add 6 inches off each end).

  16. The wallpaper primer that you added earlier will give you about five minutes of wiggle room before the paper is in its permanent placement, so if anything needs to be straightened or any seams need to be tightened, do so by slowly and gently scooting the paper around with flat palms. Start with your large pieces of wallpaper and then move on to the small ones.

  17. Trim detail strips of wallpaper using a straightedge and razor blade.
  18. For smaller detail strips of wallpaper, measure the height as you did before, but also measure the width, because an entire strip of wallpaper isn't needed. Use a straightedge and measuring tape to cut this small strip of wallpaper to size.

  19. For cutting in around windows, it's easiest to cut individual stripes of wallpaper to fit each edge and line up the points where they meet (as opposed to cutting out a large hole for the window).

  20. Paste and book detail strips just like larger ones.
  21. Paste and book the final small strip using the same technique used for the larger strips. Hang as you did the other strips, and trim as needed using a utility knife.

  22. Allow your wallpaper to settle for 24 hours before hanging or leaning art on it.
  23. Allow the wallpaper paste to dry and the paper to settle entirely (about 24 hours) before adding nails for art or other wall hangings.

  24. Tip

    Smaller bubbles under the wallpaper will usually disappear as the paste dries and the wallpaper settles into place. Use a brand-new or recently sharpened utility knife to ensure clean cuts and to avoid tearing the paper. Clean your pasting surface after each application with warm soapy water to avoid staining the front of the next strip of wallpaper. Even if your wall isn't a perfect 90 degrees, hang your wallpaper stripes evenly and level. After you've reached the edges of your wall, you'll just need to do some extra trimming to suit your home's specific angles. Do not overlap the seams when adding adjacent strips of wallpaper. Hang your largest pieces of wallpaper first and then go back in to paste and hang the smaller detail strips (i.e. around windows, etc.). If you suspect that the old paint in your home is lead-based, prime directly over it without disturbing it. You do not need to remove your moldings or protect them in any way when wallpapering. Just use the utility knife to trim the wallpaper away where the paper meets the edge of the molding.

    Warning

    If you're wallpapering over existing wallpaper, the original wallpaper must be firmly in place. If there are any areas where the old paper is peeling up, it's best to take the time to remove the old wallpaper before adding new material on top. However, if the old wallpaper is smooth, prime it and add new wallpaper on top. Just avoid lining the new seams up with the old seams. If the old wallpaper is peeling and may have lead paint underneath, consult a professional.

    Avoid wallpapering a textured wall, as it could tear. Wallpaper needs a smooth, flat surface to adhere to, so any major texture or uneven plane such as stucco or paneling isn't a good surface to wallpaper. You'll need to skim, sand and seal the wall to ensure a smooth surface before continuing. Even a texture as simple as an "orange peel" will be too rough to wallpaper over without sanding the surface.

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