Now that the powder room makeover is done (and looks gorgeous, if I do say so myself), I can admit something to you: I was really nervous about wallpapering for the first time. I had never installed wallpaper – I had only ever gleefully torn it down. I vaguely remember my Mom installing wallpaper in our kitchen when I was really young, but that was the only room she wallpapered in my childhood home, so I didn’t even really see many wallpapered rooms in my lifetime. I was a total wallpapering newbie. I was really excited to try wallpapering for the first time, but I secretly pictured the paper tearing, lining up crooked, and gluing in place before I could fix it. But that was NOT my experience at all! Installing the Spoonflower prepasted removable wallpaper was a dream.
With my Mom’s help, the wallpaper installation went really, really smoothly and we didn’t have any problems. It took us two days to wallpaper the small powder room, but that’s largely because I wanted it to look perfect in photos so we worked slowly and carefully. Spoonflower provides really detailed instructions for installing the wallpaper (including a video), so you’ll find lots of great resources and support if you decided to try wallpapering your own space. To offer some encouragement, I’m going to share my experiences below – and hopefully dispel any fears you have about wallpapering as a newbie. And if you’re a wallpaper pro, share your wisdom with us in the comments!
Disclosure: As you know, Spoonflower generously provided the wallpaper for my One Room Challenge makeover, but I wasn’t asked or encouraged to provide a positive review. I also wasn’t asked to share a tutorial or how-to, but I got so many questions about the process from fellow newbies, I wanted to share my experience.
DIY Wallpapering Supplies:
- Paint roller (clean)
- Paint tray (clean; here’s a kit with paint roller and tray)
- Clean water
- Drop cloth (waterproof is best)
- Sharp utility knife (I used this one)
- Large and small sponge (look for large grout sponges in the tiling department)
- Wallpaper buddy
- Merci chocolate (for wallpaper buddy)
Preparing Your Wall for Wallpaper:
Before wallpapering, make sure the wall is smooth, clean and free of any dirt or dust. I found the wallpaper to be really forgiving. It even covered up an area of drywall tape that we didn’t put enough mud behind. I was so worried that would show through or create a ridge but nope, totally covered. Having said that, the better condition your wall is in, the better the wallpaper will look. So take the time to patch and sand any holes or sharp areas that could tear the wallpaper. And, a tip from my Mom: don’t wallpaper bare drywall – she used removable wallpaper too (back in the day), but it didn’t want to let go of the drywall when she tried to remove it decades late. She really regretted not priming/painting the new drywall first! So make sure to paint or prime walls, and tackle that at least 4 weeks before wallpapering. A solid, light color wall ensures the best look (avoid high texture or scrubbable paints). I had previously painted the one window wall a light green when we got our windows replaced and enlarged, and I was worried that if the top edge of the wallpaper wasn’t installed perfectly, or if I had gone over a bit with the green paint, that it would show. So I quickly gave the ceiling a fresh coat of paint and brought down the paint line an inch from the ceiling – just in case (see the photo below).
Getting Ready to Wallpaper for the First Time:
First, coax a friend into helping because wallpapering is definitely a two-person job. Ply them with chocolate if you need to – but not wine, lol, because their job is to check for straight lines. And you want to get an early start because working in the day light helps a lot. Set up an area to work – I chose the kitchen counter, and I covered it with garbage bags to protect the surface. I filled a clean, brand new paint tray with water, and grabbed a fresh roller. We also corralled the dogs in the bedroom so they wouldn’t trip us as we carried the wet wallpaper from the kitchen to the powder room. That was back when I was worried about the wallpaper – I pictured Szuka tripping me and me tearing the sheet in half as I fell. Totally unfounded fear! But it was easier to work without them underfoot.
Planning the Wallpaper Installation:
Before starting, we planned our course of action. We decided to start in the corner where the sliding barn door would hide the seam, and work clockwise from there. If you’re wallpapering an entire room, you might not have the pattern line up perfectly at the end so we decided that corner wouldn’t be noticeable, especially when the door was closed. In the end, it lined up really, really well, but I still wanted the seam somewhere less noticeable.
Hanging the Wallpaper:
For this wallpaper, you apply the water to the prepasted side with a roller dipped in water. The roller really helps evenly distribute the water and it isn’t messy.
Then you book it for 2-5 minutes – see the photo below. This activates the adhesive. We set a timer for each strip so we didn’t lose track of time and then carried it over to the powder room when the time was up. It was easy to carry still booked – it’s tough and not flimsy or thin as I imagined.
We unfolded just the top, keeping the bottom booked, and aligned it with the ceiling, keeping the edge straight and even with the wall. Once it was in position, we unfolded the bottom and began smoothing it downward with a damp sponge. This was a really easy process, but took some time. The wallpaper was easy to reposition if we needed to and it was also easy to smooth out any bubbles. We were able to take our time to position and smooth the wallpaper – the adhesive dried at a really good pace. We used a large sponge for the main area and a smaller sponge when we did seams and worked around edges and corners, etc.
Then we repeated the process around the room. The interesting thing about this wallpaper is that you don’t meet up the edges – you overlap them. That makes matching up the seams easy, but it wasn’t what my Mom was used to. After the first couple of rolls, it went much faster. We trimmed any excess so that there was only a few inches left around trim and doorways, and kept working.
When the wallpaper was completely dry, we used a sharp utility knife and trimmed the excess wallpaper. In a couple of spots around edges, it hadn’t stuck 100% so we wet the smaller sponge and were able to reactive the adhesive and get it to stick down perfectly. Any spots with extra adhesive were wiped with the big damp sponge as we inspected our work.
It turned out so beautifully!! All of my fears: glue sticking, paper tearing, dog tripping, never happened and when we finished this room, I was actually eager to wallpaper again! I can see how people end up with 16 different wallpaper designs in the house because it’s so rewarding. A couple of days and we made a HUGE impact! I love the pattern I chose (Sprigs on Ocean) and the wallpaper has luster and movement that were missing in my life.
I don’t plan on EVER taking this down, so I probably can’t speak to how well it can be removed, but I’ll definitely update you on the wear. In the meantime, check out this book, Bitten by Witch Fever: Wallpaper & Arsenic in the Nineteenth Century Home. I haven’t read it yet, but it sounds really interesting!