Wallpaper – The Complete Guide To Avoid Screwing It Up!

Actually, I could write a week’s worth of blog posts and then some about what you need to know about wallpaper. However, suppose you are considering decorating with wallpaper. In that case, there are some critical pitfalls that if you don’t already know about, you could very well find yourself with a frustrating and (expensive) mess.


So, please allow me to dive in here and get the nasty out-of-the-way before we get to the pretty pictures. What I’m going to try to do with these more informative posts is to put most of the photos on a separate post because not everyone wants to hang onto my every (pontificating – lol) word. :]

Please go and grab a cup of Jo– and a sandwich, maybe.


Laurel, before you begin, is wallpaper back in style?


Well, in my opinion, it never went out of style. However, what I am hoping is forever gone is cheap wallpaper with either a pseudo-quaint ditzy design. Or, just a bad overall design.

Today, I’m not going to go into what constitutes terrible design. However, if it’s cheap paper, it’s likely not going to be well-designed, either.


Well, Laurel, the high-end wallpapers are not in my budget, so I have no choice but to use something that might not be as refined.


Sure. I get that. You don’t have to do any wallpaper. In fact, I would rather folks just paint instead of putting up some cheap, tacky wallpaper.

Or, you could always learn how to stencil and go that route. However, please be warned that it’s difficult work as it takes quite a while to do. Plus, your arms will feel like they’re going to fall off after a couple of hours of intensive work.

Let’s talk wallpaper materials and some of the pros and cons.


Most wallpaper is actually paper.


Now, some wallpapers have a protective coating, and some do not. But, did you know that you can have wallpaper laminated? Yes, you can. This is a great option for areas that need protection, either from water or possibly high-traffic areas.

Remember the post about fabric nightmares? Well, one of the places that do knit backing, Custom Laminations, can apply a matte lamination to your wallpaper before it goes up.


Well, could you apply something to the wallpaper, like a glaze after it goes up?


You know, I have never done that. Years ago, I bought some wallpaper to put up in my bedroom. The plan was to apply a very light film of diluted paint to further soften the tone on tone design. I loved the effect. Alas, it never happened, and I no longer have the wallpaper.


However, you are probably talking about putting on something akin to a polyurethane or varnish.


Or, maybe the kind of glaze that artists use for faux finishes. Yes, you could do that. But, here’s the thing. Using a poly or varnish will be the same issue as doing a heavy paint job over wallpaper. And, it will render it exceedingly difficult to remove the wallpaper. In fact, the paper will likely need to be sanded off. Or else, the walls will need to be skim-coated, which is quite costly, before painting.

In addition, please experiment on a sample before putting anything on the wall. And, I would also begin in a discreet place (like behind a piece of furniture) before committing to the entire wall.


What about lining paper?


My paper hanger is recommending doing that. Is it essential? I mean, it’s double the price for the installation, and I don’t want to get ripped off with something no one is going to see, anyway.

The reason one might need a lining is if the paper is thin or fragile. And, another common cause is if the walls are not in perfect shape. If your paper hanger is recommending it, it is most likely because if he doesn’t do it, you’re not going to be happy with the result.


Please note that it’s possible for the lining paper to shrink a tad.

So, I would talk to your paper hanger about maybe running the lining paper horizontally. And, of course, there needs to be a super-strong glue, and if not, it could pull everything down. Ugh.


Let’s go back to materials.


Of course, there’s vinyl, but most of the vinyl papers are the self-sticking kind. More about that, in a bit. However, some contemporary wallpapers made from a synthetic fiber mimic leather or animal skin—something like that. But, if they are from a high-end source, they will not be self-sticking.


Fabric is another possibility that you may not have considered.


While I have never done this, I have seen it done. To be clear, this is not the same as upholstered walls. If you don’t realize already, Upholstered walls have padding underneath the fabric, the same as furniture upholstery.


So, how do you apply fabric to the walls? Won’t the glue seep through?


Yes, it will! Therefore, the fabric requires a paper backing, and it’s done at the same place that puts on knit backing and lamination of fabrics. Of course, the material is usually 54″, which is at least double the width of most regular wallpaper. So, you’ll also have fewer seams. I recommend confining this treatment to smaller areas. You might also need to do both lamination and paper backing to the fabric for protection.


LR_Miramar_Sofa-grasscloth wallcovering cactus Serena & Lily

All home furnishings on sale at Serena & Lily! (use code: NEWSEASON)


Next up are natural fibers, like grasscloth.


WP_GrassCloth_Serena & Lily

GrassCloth Serena & Lily


These wallcoverings were prevalent decades ago and have become hugely popular these days. They run the gamut in the price range. Please be careful. We will be discussing pitfalls about wallpaper pricing, and this is where you can definitely get screwed.

And finally,


Anaglypta and Lincrusta.


Binegar Original 33' x 20.5 Damask 3D Embossed Wallpaper

Binegar Original 33′ x 20.5 Damask 3D Embossed Wallpaper


These are paintable, textured (embossed) wallpapers. They are often used for wainscoting or on the ceiling to mimic a tin ceiling. What’s the dif?

Lincrusta is made from gelled paste of linseed oil and wood flour and is quite heavy and durable.

Anaglypta is made from pressed wood pulp and cotton usually. It is far lighter. But, really great for ceilings. And, it is fine to use on the walls, too. This wallpaper is meant to be painted after it goes up. However, yes, it will still be tough to take down.


Okay, here’s something I said over seven years ago:




Professional wallpaper hangers are exceedingly skilled technicians akin to a neurosurgeon. No exaggeration. I mean, would you attempt to repair your own slipped disk?

Yes, I know, you read somewhere how easy it is to do it yourself. They are lying. It’s not even close to being easy, and you may very well end up having to have someone redo the mess you make, thereby spending double or more. There ARE tons of things you can do yourself, but hanging wallpaper is not one of them. That is unless you’ve had years of experience training under a master-craftsman.


Does it still hold that we lay folks should not attempt to hang our own wallpaper?


Yes, absolutely, if it’s an expensive high-end wallpaper.

However, there is such a thing as pre-pasted wallpaper. Basically, it’s like a postage stamp. It gets dampened on the back. I am less familiar with this product. I imagine that it’s still challenging to put up, and you need to be able to work super-fast before the paste dries. In addition, I would think this would only work for thin wallpaper. It sounds pretty icky-poo. However, if anyone has any more light they can shed on this product one way or the other, that would be helpful.


The third kind of wallpaper is vinyl wallpaper that is self-sticking, moveable, and easily removable.


Therefore, there’s no rush, and if you mess up, no problem; just gently pull it off and start over.

So, yes. This is the only sitch where I can say that you could probably do it yourself. It’s also a wonderful solution if you’re renting and need a temporary solution.


Okay, here’s where we get into the heavy stuff.


It has to do with two things.


  • roll size
  • terminology.


Fair warning. This is going to be wildly confusing. Therefore, I recommend that you have another sandwich. I will try to make this more palatable with a few pretty pics woven in. Indeed, I’ll try to explain it as briefly as possible. But, if you’re confused, it’s not only you.


Wallpaper is sold in a few different ways:


  • By the yard
  • Per roll, or double roll, or triple roll.
  • Or, sometimes, in a minimum number of feet, yards, or rolls.


So far, so good? Great, because that’s not the confusing part about ordering wallpaper.


Now we’re on our way towards the abyss of absurdity because wallpaper is also sold in different widths.


Wallpaper can be anywhere between 21″ and 54″ wide.

In addition, a single roll could be 4, 5, 5.5, 11 yards long, etc.

For example, a single American roll is usually 27″ wide by 5.5 yards long., And, of course, a double roll is 27″ x 11 yards long.

However, there is another SINGLE roll that is known as a Euro Roll. It is 21″ wide by 11 yards long. So, yes, it’s the same length as an American single roll but six inches narrower.


But, here’s where people get messed up when ordering wallpaper if they aren’t familiar with these marketing tricks.


Sometimes a Euro roll will be called a “double roll.” And, sometimes companies will sell wallpaper priced as a SINGLE ROLL but sold as double rolls of wallpaper.

I’ll let you chew on that one for a bit.

Yes, wallpaper often will say something like, “one roll covers 37 square feet or 54 square feet.”

Well, sort of.

Good God, Laurel, I hope you’re finished because I have a splitting headache.

Yeah, me too. Here’s some Advil because I’m not finished. No sirree. Not even close. Sorry. However, we can take a brief break to discuss that Serena & Lily is having a 20% off sale on their entire product line, including, yes, all of their beautiful wallpaper! And, some are brand new designs, all on sale.



Artichoke wallpaper by Serena & Lily


Newbury_Tucker_Priano Wallpaper - Serena and Lily - blue and white color scheme

Priano Wallpaper and also available in new colors at Serena & Lily


Now that your brain has had a breather, time for more pain. This is because sometimes wallpaper is sold by the square foot or by the yard. (not necessarily a square yard) But, sold in perhaps increments of five yards, of various widths. So, for example, a wallpaper might sell for $98/yard.

Hey, that doesn’t sound too bad. But, hold on a sec.

It is bad. Here’s why.

The wallpaper, frequently a grasscloth, is 21″ wide and comes in 5-yard rolls.

Well, that’s less than half of a SINGLE Euro roll and smaller than a SINGLE American roll. But, at 98 bucks a yard, that means that your minimal roll of wallpaper will be $490 bucks! If you need 20 of these rolls to wallpaper a medium-sized bedroom, yep. That’s 10k, just for the wallcovering, not including installation.


Of course, there’s another layer of confusion added when wallpaper is sold by the “square foot.”


But, there’s more. Sorry, I realize this is painful.


Serena and Lily - Entryway - Lamps on Console

Valley Wallpaper


This goes under how much wallpaper to order.


This additional layer is further complicated if there’s a fairly large pattern. Of course, the pattern needs to match. Sometimes the repeat could be 36″ or more. And, sometimes, it’s something called a half-drop repeat.

Please allow me to demonstrate the difference between a full repeat and a half-drop repeat.

A full matching repeat occurs when each repeat of the pattern lines up with the next repeat.

Chiang Mai Dragon not matching full repeat

Above is Schumacher’s Chiang Mai Dragon. Here, you can see that laying the pattern repeat one after the other does not match. This is because Chiang Mai Dragon is a half-drop repeat. Please note, it appears that this colorway only comes in fabric.

half drop repeat Chiang Mai Dragon wallpaperAbove, I used pic monkey to show that the repeat is halfway down. Therefore, there might be some waste. Or, there might be less waste.


Laurel, Pleeeeease!


Thank you. I’m ignoring that. :] Please remember. You don’t have to do wallpaper. These warnings and tips are meant to save you grief, not add to it. I’m condensing 25 years of pain into one single gulp.

Here’s some more salt to pour into the wound. In case you don’t know, wallpaper is NEVER returnable. Don’t even think about it; try to bribe, threaten to sue. No, not even if the roll hasn’t been opened. They. will. not. take. it. back. ever. Hello eBay! lol


However, there is light at the end of this wallpaper-lined rabbit hole.


The last thing to address is the room itself.

Most rooms have at least one doorway, and there might be some windows, too. Usually, there’s about a foot above the window and a couple of feet below the window. Of course, there’s a baseboard and sometimes a crown moulding.


So, the question is:


Do you deduct the amount of paper needed for the doorways and windows?

Most professional paper hangers do not make any deduction at all.


Why is that?


Well, first of all, you should always get about 10% more wallpaper than you think you need, aside from needing an extra roll in case of a disaster. Another reason to order extra wallpaper is in case there’s a problem with the installation or a communication error, and you’re caught short.

That is when you start praying (super hard) that they still have enough rolls of your wallpaper left in that SAME dye lot to complete the job.

There is nothing worse than having to order more wallpaper only to discover when it goes up that the stock you had was five years old, and the new stock that you had to wait five months for is radically different.


Serena and Lily - Bedding and Bath Sale

Feather Wallpaper – Available in four colorways at Serena & Lily


If this is the case and you’re the designer,


please be prepared to redo the entire job for your client at your own expense. This is also why you need to work with nice, normal people who will not flip out because you made a booboo in your calculations. I mean, if nobody died, or got permanently maimed, then it’s not a tragedy. It’s annoying AF, for sure, but that’s all.


And, no. Sorry. The paperhanger is almost definitely not going to give you a break in the price to redo your mistake.


You’ll be lucky if he’ll move things around to fit you into his already busy schedule. That’s because you’ve hired the best paperhanger in your area.

He’s swamped.

Sometimes, you can get a CFA (Cutting For Approval) of the wallpaper, but often it’s not available as the wallpaper is prepackaged and wrapped in cellophane.

Wait, Laurel? What about those insanely expensive Chinoiserie panels, like from Gracie and Zuber. Or even the moderately expensive ones like you did from The Mural Source?


Oh, that is such a good question.


You guys are fantastic! I mean, I’m shocked that there’s anyone left still reading this. lol

There is a solution. And, yes, doing this exercise might also help you order less for regular wallpaper.

In fact, if you don’t do this, you’re asking for trouble. That is, you must do a scale rendering, either using a design graphic program like Sketchup, for example. Or, you could do what I do, which is make each elevation in picmonkey. Here’s a picmonkey tutorial.

mural sources wallpaper Anastasia - Sand Bedroom decorating details

If there’s a panel moulding, like in my old bedroom, put that in your elevation. Then, take a full repeat of the wallpaper and start laying it on. This is for straight wallpaper.

For panels, what’s important is where the panel will get trimmed and which one(s) you’ll use. Some murals, for instance, come with 20 or more panels. They are numbered, and you can usually order whichever panels you like.


Here’s why you need to plan which panels you will do and where.


You’ll order the paper, and your favorite part of the panel will have to get cut out due to a window or doorway. Or, it will get covered by a piece of furniture that has to be there.


That’s because if you don’t plan it out, the Universe will, and it won’t be happy that you didn’t do the planning yourself.
Pondfield Rd W - Bronxville apartment for sale - bedroom - Mural Sources - Chinoiserie Wallpaper - Benjamin Moore White Dove wall color


If there’s a lot of separation, you can sometimes n get away with changing the order of things. But, this is why you need to check it out with your elevations.

In fact, I did not do this when I did my gorgeous Chinoiserie wallpaper in my old bedroom. If I had, I would’ve done things a little differently. It’s not bad as is, but it could’ve been better like behind the bookcases.




Here’s why.

Years ago, I had a client found some guys who would put up their not cheap Farrow and Ball paper for cheap. She needed 26 Euro rolls. Days later, the paper started pulling away from the wall at the seams and when I arrived only two years later it was a huge mess and had to be redone. At the time this was a $7,000 mistake.


Therefore, please don’t (attempt to) hang your own paper.


Of course, I realize that at least one of you is going to chime in how you had no issue hanging your own wallpaper. Sure. That’s because you’re a one-in-a-million prodigy. For the rest of us, please believe me. Only use the most experienced, skilled professionals, who will guarantee the job; however, they cannot guarantee against factors beyond their control such as water leaks behind the wall.

Okay, I know this one was on the heavy side, however, I don’t want you to make these mistakes. But, if you have already, please take heart.


We ALL have. I’ve made some colossal mistakes and yes, they cost me.


Well, I’m sure I’ve left out some things that can go wrong with wallpaper. So, please feel free to share your wallpaper horror story if you have one.

And, I don’t mean those horrible natural disasters like leaks behind the wall. That’s inconvenient, but insurance usually covers these calamities.

You may also enjoy these posts that talk about wallcoverings.



PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES!


There are a ton of new things to see this weekend and also more info about the Serena & Lily rare sale.

Oh, and Happy Anniversary to Laurel’s Rolodex, my first digital product, released September 26th, 2015!!! Everyone who orders it gets free lifetime updates. There was one early update, but normally, that occurs right before Thanksgiving.

***For those of you who own the rolodex but don’t know what you did with yours. Please do a search in your computer using ROLODEX.

Or, you can also search your email for SENDOWL or ROLODEX.

That should take you to your download link and you can download another copy, unless you’re out of downloads. If that’s the case, and you can’t wait another two months, then please contact me by responding to any email I’ve sent you.


48 Responses

  1. Le deseo una pronta recuperación y nos conformaremos con un blog al mes si eso ayuda a su mejoría
    Desde España un afectuoso saludo

  2. Laurel, you are so spot on with all your advice but you didn’t mention sizing? My terrific professional installer (not only a great guy but also a 2nd generation installer) is pricey and insists that all walls be properly sized but I’ve found its a lot cheaper to have the painter on the job do the sizing than the wallpaper installer. And for those who don’t know, sizing is like a primer for paint, it goes on first and makes it easier to take the paper off cleanly when you want to change it. It’s important!

  3. Hi Laurel, I have had some very expensive wallpaper hung over the years..by wonderful pros.
    ANd then there’s the story of my last project…paper hung beautifully…a neutral all over soft pattern..in my bathroom and in my private loo within that room. So one day I was ……resting….in my private loo, staring at my lovely paper…and realized it had been hung completely upside down!!!!!!
    Nothing to do…but I always felt it was money down the drain…so to speak.

  4. As a designer I ALWAYS hire a pro to do the paper hanging. Repeat’s gives me a headache, so I let the other guy deal with the math, and the liability, and the labor!

    Once a friend called me to ask me to help him “surprise” his wife by wallpapering her bathroom. He did not take the pattern matching into account when ordering, so we did a lot of creative “patchworking” to finish it. What a headache.

    Another friend, who rented, asked me for and idea to warm up her bedroom. This was before peel-n-stick-removable wallpaper was a thang. So we tried cotton fabric soaked in fabric softener, and applied to the wall which worked beautifully and came off easily when she moved years later. It was by no means a professional job, but it DID improve the feel of the space. Our biggest lesson: use UNSCENTED fabric softener. We didn’t, and the room had an intense laundry-fresh scent for weeks.

  5. I was a teacher on a teacher’s budget. I’ve done lots of papering, lots of removing….some easy, to one room that no one could remove. Since I didn’t want to pay to have new drywall installed I ….ouch….painted over it and used molding to cover seams.

    I encourage anyone on a limited budget to go for it! Do your homework, buy inexpensive paper and practice in the laundry room. It does take time and effort and may not be perfect, but I have owned several homes and the worst job, besides the no removable one, was done by a so called professional.

    Obviously if one has a full budget, buys expensive paper, etc., that’s a different story. I’m just posting to encourage those of us who could never have a nice home without lots of DIYing to not be intimidated. All of my homes sold quickly and above asking price because I always bought a nasty!!!!! house with good bones in the best neighborhood I could afford and rolled up my sleeves. You can do pretty much what you set your mind to do, don’t wait for someday.

    1. All good advice, Susan. As I said, I would stick to the self-sticking vinyl wallpapers if it’s a DIY. They have some gorgeous ones on Etsy. They are a lot easier to put up, too and not as expensive as the hand-made, high-end wallpapers that require trimming, etc.

  6. My mother was also a seamstress and she wallpapered a number of rooms in our houses, most memorably the gold foil optical illusion paper in our powder room and the huge geraniums in the kitchen–the only paper she could find to match our vintage counters (it was the 70s).

    Later she turned pro and papered other people’s houses. The job she was most proud of was the guy who didn’t buy enough expensive wallpaper to allow for the pattern match, so she had to figure out how to deliberately mismatch the paper to fit.

    All those years measuring and matching fabric patterns on seams came in handy.

  7. Ramona–Yes! Starch on fabric stays up just fine in a bathroom. I did a bathroom and once an entire sunroom with liquid starch over fabric. When it is time to remove it, it just pulls off in moments. Not the finest, high-end decor, I suppose, but I was happy with outcomes.

  8. This is regarding wallpaper. We found our “dream” paper at an Ethan Allen store and the sales rep mis-measured and we had only for 2 of the 4. Of course they new rolls we had to buy did not match. Our hanger hung the final paper on the north walls and then the new paper on the east and west walls. It turned out well and you would never know it wasn’t planned that may. Not a bad idea to remember.

  9. Since it is close to Halloween, here is my horror story. Expecting our first child, I wanted to paper below the chair rail in his room with a vinyl paper. It was a new house, so not haunted, but when putting up the paper you would have thought it was. Something about the vinyl and paste caused a reaction. It would be perfectly smooth, my husband would be two panels away, and look back and see swollen lumps behind the paper. Wallpapering and hanging drapes together are serious marriage threateners. We have learned not to do either together.

  10. I had a professional paperhanger do a small power room for me. The last place to do was over the door, and there wasn’t enough wallpaper to do a full repeat. I did not want to spend another $150 to just cover a 10″ tall space. So, I had him continue the pattern at the edges and the top and bottom of the space leaving the majority of the center of this space uncovered. Then, I had a carpenter install a picture molding frame over the door that outlined that bare space and then had the carpenter glue a mirror on the wall inside the frame (sort of like a fake transom). The mirror bounces the light around this small space and the result looks intentional.

  11. I second the advice on this post. Relatively recently, I purchased a designer wallpaper for a feature wall in a room. What I didn’t factor in was that it required a lining paper, and was oversized, requiring two hangers. The installation cost was basically equivalent to wallpapering a whole room with a ‘regular’ wallpaper! As Laurel notes, you really need to factor these things into the total cost. There are some designer wallpapers that require so much extra cost for installation, what seems like a minor splurge becomes a far greater cost than you were anticipating. (To top it off, it was a paper purchased by the metre; because of the price I bought the minimum I thought I could get away with. However, this meant that the placement was not ideal – if you’re buying a mural wallpaper, make sure you factor this in. In the end, I wish I’d bitten the bullet and purchased one more metre, as it would not have made a significant difference to the overall cost.)

  12. I have papered badly, and not-so-badly and have learned to love paint. All of the caveats are only too true. And then there are the (VERY pricey) papers that have a blank ~1/2 inch down each edge. ONLY a professional can tackle those. But they are exquisite.

    1. Oh wow! That’s great advice. I’ve never heard of that, but it makes a lot of sense. It’s also a great use for fabric softener. I stopped using the stuff because except for static in the winter, didn’t notice much of a difference.

  13. I do my own wallpapering. It takes simply forever. But, I have never seen a fat wallpaper installer. Putting up wallpaper is a full body workout and good for losing at least 10 lbs. Admittedly, some jobs I would hire out. And my first and second wallpaper installations were simply hack jobs. Luckily I move a lot, so I have had lots of practice on everything from Anaglypta to grass cloth. My taste is classic styles so every piece of wallpaper I ever hung (even the first, again apologies to that new homeowner, poor Robin) is still installed (I keep in touch). But, you know what I often hate? Most other people’s taste in wallpaper. I have rarely walked into a wallpapered room and fallen in love with the wallpaper. The few that I have, though, are delightfully memorable. I design wallpaper as a side business, so I’m picky.I like to use wallpaper on ceilings (yeah, I hire that out) and as the backing to bookcases, TV stands, and hutches.

  14. I had the same thought, “of course you can install your own wallpaper” I’ve done it plenty of times without any problem.
    But as I think back, I started with small jobs like single walls so I guess I’ve also developed the skill over time.
    I’ve also had the benefit of good tools and a really good helper.
    So after a bit of reflection, I’ve got to agree with Laurel, hire the best pro you can find. Especially if you’re working with expensive paper or something difficult like grasscloth.
    But then again, if you’re just doing something like a single wall in an apartment, with fairly cheap paper, and you’re a handy kind of person, you might want to give it a try.

  15. Laurel, you are so on the money with regards to hiring a “real professional” paper hanger. I made an expensive mistake many years ago when we moved into our first condo. I hired a friend of a friend to put up a dark blue floral paper in our dining room (this was in 1988 and I was obsessed with cabbage roses). We only wanted the walls above the wainscoting papered. So believed this would be a quick and economical job. However paper shrank – it was not high end paper. And to fix the separations he actually colored between the seams with some kind of blue paint or chalk – to this day I am not sure. I was horrified. Not only did I have to pay this person, I had to pay to have it taken down and the walls painted. It was just awful. A few years later when we sold the condo and built our home, I hired a decorator (after doing my homework) and she brought in a professional paper hanger – and everything was beautiful – you could not see the seams as he matched everything so well. And it stayed up for almost 20 years until we remodeled, redecorated and I switched to painted walls. Professional decorators, paper hangers, and painters are worth every penny. Amen!

  16. I’m not even remotely an expert as I have only wallpapered once in my downstairs bath. I had a good friend who did a lot of wallpaper with her mom to help us out. It’s been 4 or 5 years and no issues. I love the drama of it!

  17. When hanging fabric on walls, I always pre-paint the walls with size. I also wash the fabric to pre-shrink it. I have had great success with using watered down woodworkers glue (water soluble, of course). To remove and recycle, just wet the fabric and it peels off. In my experience, it requires three DIY selfers to hang fabric.

  18. My mother was a professional seamstress who created wonders at her machine. She also wallpapered more than once while I was a child. Like her sewing, she wallpapered precisely. However, I have to say that watching her do it turned me off to wallpaper at a very young age. I have some/most of her talents, but I don’t think I could convince myself to wallpaper even if I were thirty years younger. Her wallpapered rooms never had problems. Of course, as some of your other readers have noted, we were of a very modest economic class. I do think I might try fabric with starch on walls as not only do I feel comfortable with fabric, I realize that it can be manipulated repeatedly without ruining the piece. I wonder if starched fabric will stand up in a bathroom. I rather doubt it.

  19. Oh, and I should add that I recently had another room papered in a now-discontinued Serena & Lily pattern. It was a different width than the width of the Priano. So don’t assume the same company always offers the same width.

  20. Talk about timely! I’m having my dining room papered in the blue Serena and Lily Priano by a highly recommended professional paper hanger TOMORROW! I’m so excited! By the way, I have custom floor to ceiling cabinetry in that room painted Benjamin Moore Van Duesen Blue. A perfect match. I think it will be gorgeous.

  21. I papered professionally for 17 years; from Grandma’s kitchen to yachts to large commercial buildings. I was basically self-taught so when you say not to tackle this yourself, my initial thought was “that’s silly.” However when reading on about how much to order, etc. I have to acknowledge that there is a whole ‘nother skill in doing that. It takes some math and logic skills that many people are lacking. So, yes, you’re probably right. Hire a professional and let them do the measuring and ordering and hanging. That’s how we ran our business and people were very happy (and confident) to let us do that. The biggest mistake I see in DIYers is trying to extend paper around an inside corner. ALWAYS cut a corner and lap it very slightly onto the next wall. Then continue on the next wall with a new plumb line. You’ll be able to keep things plumb and your corners will always look crisp. When using pre-pasted paper, we always lightly primed the wall with slightly watered down paste which helped in moving things around; over-working the paper can stretch it and create popped seams. I’ve not hung the new removable papers but it sounds like a nightmare for positioning. My favorite paper was commercial vinyl (usually with no match) that required overlapping and double-cutting the seam. The seams were flawless!

  22. Laurel, very timely post. I’m thinking about wallpapering the upper half of my daughters bedroom with a gorgeous pink floral wallpaper from Brooke & Lou with chair molding below. The issue that I’m confused on how to address is our windows. You see in the Southwest (Vegas to be exact) we don’t have moldings around our windows. Our walls just curve back to the window with no molding. Obviously our home is not modern but this is the norm in the Southwest. How is wallpaper treated around windows with no molding?

  23. I’m definitely no genius or prodigy– I’m a complete idiot– and I’ve hung wallpaper (even the *shudder* pre-pasted kind) without problem. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  24. I have a random wallpaper question….you occasionally hear about wallpaper being moved from one wall to another. I think Jackie O. did this in a room of the White House – re-hung some paper she purchased. It seems like it’s only ever done with the super-expensive, hand-painted papers, so I assume it’s costly. But my question is HOW do they do that? I have removed a fair share of wallpaper and it’s excruciating and certainly does not come down intact. It doesn’t really matter, as I will likely never be able to afford paper like that, but if I ever did, being able to take it with me would be amazing. Did they have to plan for that when it was hung originally? Sometimes it is pretty old. But anyway, it’s a ridiculous question that I wonder about often enough that I thought I would ask.

    1. Hi Amanda,

      Great question. There is such a thing as temporary wallpaper paste. I was going to do it in my old bedroom however, the paper hanger talked me out of it. He said it didn’t hold up as well. Now, I wish I had tried it out. If it’s a very expensive wallpaper panel, they probably also attach it to a paper backing. That way, it’s the backing getting pulled off, not the fragile and insanely expensive wallpaper.

  25. Your posts are always so timely! I’ve decided to wallpaper a long wall in our new kitchen addition that has 2 doorways in it. I want a tried and true time tested pattern so I’m thinking William Morris Willow in blue with a blue painted woodwork. It’s $$ but timeless. Looking forward to your post with the pictures- can you suggest timeless patterns that could be helpful.

  26. One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was “Never wallpaper with your husband. Ever.” I grew up in an economic class that was strictly “DIY or live with it as it is” as the only options that were available. My husband has wallpapered with friends and my siblings but never me, and we celebrated 41 years this year, probably because we never wallpapered together.

    When we moved into our current home we had to removed wallpaper that layers of enamel pain that covered even more wallpaper. It (wallpaper over paint over wallpaper over paint) came off in dime sized pieces and the entire room had to be skim coated. It will be a long cold day before I hang wallpaper here.

    I have made my own lined draperies, slipcovers, quilts, pillow slips curtains, placemats/napkins, and am going to try reupholstering this winter. (Again, I think I am in an entirely different socio-economic status than most of your readers and our standards are probably not as exacting.)

    Would you please clarify what “ditsy” looks like? To me, the Sriana blue and white print looks ditsy but I do think is is beautiful. Thank you for a wonderful column that I always look forward to so I can learn.

  27. I know I’m not a wallpaper prodigy but the first time I did wallpaper I did it right and it was perfectly easy to figure out though a lot of work to do. I was in my twenties (a long, long time ago) and followed the directions provided by the store for measuring, matching and aligning the wallpaper as well as getting out any bubbles. I also purchased the right tools to do the job. I know one was some heavy dangling weight to make sure that the paper didn’t go crooked. Looking back, the only thing I might have altered is the kind of paste I used. I had bought a heavy duty paste that made me dizzy. I had to keep stopping and running downstairs to the front door for gasps of air and then back up to install another panel. But it got done and looked perfect.

  28. Another great post, Laurel. Funny, informative, and always real – like Sunday coffee with a favorite friend. Appreciate you!

  29. Laurel, your sense of humor is always a great start to my Wednesdays & Sundays. You have such a gently funny way of telling us the truth.

  30. I always look forward to reading your posts. I am one of “those people” who has always hung my own. However, a Thibault hummingbird paper above a chair rail is the most expensive paper I’ve done. The biggest trick I learned is to put a skim of paste directly on the wall. (A half wall is definitely easier) The pasted wall makes it easier to slid and adjust, as needed. It also helps that this house has plaster coated walls. That and careful planning of placement of your last seam, preferably behind an entry door.

    Note: My husband and I hung a vertical pattern paper in a non-plumb late 1800’s house the first year in our marriage. We joke we knew the marriage was good when that didn’t end up with a divorce! Ha! Thirty-six plus years now.

  31. One of my favorite blogs, besides yours of course, is “Miss Mustard Seed”. If I am correct Marion has used fabric as wallpaper. The process uses liquid starch and can be easily removed when you are sick and tired of it. The walls can then be washed. I am assuming the fabric could be washed after the use too and repurposed. Marian might even have a tutorial on this process. I have viewed her tutorials on slipcovers and they are quite good.

  32. Hi Laurel,
    Several years ago I saw a picture in House Beautiful of a bedroom that had a black & white floral wallpaper. It was beautiful! Now that I’m moving into a new-to-me house I’m determined to recreate that image for myself.
    And I definitely won’t be hanging the paper myself.
    Also, if you do another post regarding wallpaper I hope you give your advice regarding paper in a bathroom.

  33. No one has ever called me a prodigy before! I love to hang wallpaper. After hiring 2 professionals in 2 different homes, I decided I could do it as well. I was right. However….peel and stick wallpaper is the worst. I hung 3 sheets in my daughter’s nursery and it was a nightmare. Give me paper and paste any day. Much easier to hang!

  34. Dear Laurel
    I am a big DIY’r and I have hung rolls and rolls of wallpaper. Most of the lessons you have posted, I learned the hard way. Fortunately most of my experience was when I was young, dumb and broke. I have had epic failures, mostly helping friends and using inexpensive paper. I have some thoughts for folks doing things without a professional decorator.

    Have a consult with your paper hanger early on. A lot of the success of the project will depend on the carpenters who are doing the remodel or build. Old houses are never perfect and may influence the type of design you choose. ( No stripes on a crooked wall)

    Prepasted wall paper is a joke—you will need paste.

    It does not require a professional to make it look good for a while, but if you plan to leave the decor for a few years, be prepared for continuing repairs, some of which may not be possible.

    If you are using quality paper the investment of a decorator and professional hanger are definitely worth the expense. I have even amortized the cost in my mind to justify the expense.

    I currently live in a house with 27 year old paper. It was definitely done right ( not by me) I have only repaired small spots.

    Thanks for your blog—you are the best!

  35. I have done fabric with liquid starch! Worked really well and lasted the 4 years we were there. I did add molding to the top and bottom edges so I’m not sure if I would have had issues with pulling. The seams between sheets were nearly invisible. I used a huge pattern and really wide fabric and the starch did a great job with the weight too. (It was a cotton duck type cloth)

  36. One of your best posts, both in subject matter and your great sense of humor!
    I just last week had grasscloth installed by a very highly recommended wallpaper installer–a lovely woman at that. Suffice it to say that I double-, triple-, and quadruple-checked my order to make sure I got the right amount. I would NEVER even entertain the thought of installing it myself! Looks great, BTW.
    Oh, and it was a Thibaut, and I was pleasantly surprised that they sent a CFA.

  37. Hi Laurel,

    I always get these bright ideas and then go for it! When we bought our fixer upper home on 12 acres, we knew that every room would need to be redone. We finished the second story before we ever moved in, that way we’d have a peaceful and complete space to get away from the construction mess. The house is small and the second story consists of 2 large bedrooms and 1 bathroom. We’re empty nesters so turned one bedroom into the master and the one into a living room. Wallpaper has just started coming back into vogue and I found a stunning wallpaper that my husband and I both loved! He said, ‘have you ever wallpapered before?’. I said, ‘sure!’ I had only wallpapered one other time and didn’t want him to know that, but I thought if other people can do it then I sure can. I spent about $400 on wallpaper and paste and went to work. My seams aren’t quite seamless, nor did I buy good paste. The seams are starting to come apart, and there are some areas of the paper that are coming unglued. It’s been up for two years but it won’t hold up much longer. The paper is absolutely stunning and brings me so much joy, but I wish to God I had hired a professional!! It’s not a $7k mistake but it’s still a costly mistake that I kick myself for. I’m currently looking at wallpaper for the kitchen and breakfast nook and will definitely be hiring a professional for that. One thing my husband and I have learned in all of this is when to call in the professionals!

  38. Hi laurel you must have read my mind cause I have been wanting to go and find that Rolodex but couldn’t stomach the thought of looking for a few hours for it. Thanks!! Also great post thinking of doing grass type wallpaper, thankfully it’s a very small area. We will see how it goes.

  39. Hi Laurel,

    Great post about the nuts and bolts of buying and getting wallpaper up.

    Can we have more about choosing a pattern that looks nice, where it would be appropriate, and what is downright naff?

    For instance I have walls with picture rails and a dado rail with no wainscoting below. Paper everywhere? Just one section? Etc?
    Is it okay with paintings on top?

    Any thoughts or opinions much appreciated!

  40. It’s an interesting post, illustrating all the pitfalls of wallpaper. I must say that the half repeat is a pain for fabrics too — I’ve got some fabric that I still haven’t dared cut for 2 years because I just can’t get the calculation right, as the pattern doesn’t go selvedge to selvedge either!
    Re fabric on walls: what do you think of the application using starch? — Miss Mustard Seed does this, apparently very successfully, and you can take the fabric with you when you go.
    But what this post tells me is that I’m right to hate wallpaper, just like rhododendrons — I can’t grow them on our limestone soil, so I hate them instead.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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