A Beginner's Guide to Wallpaper

This Guide is meant to act as a general supporting document for those looking to install their own wallpaper projects. ALWAYS carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions, as many rolls have specific requirements.


    When calculating the amount of wallpaper needed for a project, you must identify not only how many rolls wide the wall space is, but also how long each strip will need to be when the pattern repeat is added.

    You can use these simple calculations to determine how many rolls you will need (be sure to convert numbers to the same metric):

    1. # of Rolls Wide that the Wall Is = “Width of Wall” divided by “Width of the Wallpaper Roll”
    2. Total Length Needed = ( “Height of Wall” + “Pattern Repeat” ) x # of Rolls Wide that the Wall Is
    3. Total # of Rolls Needed = “Total Length Needed” divided by “Total Length of One Roll”

    The amount of rolls needed will be the resulting amount for calculation #3, rounded up to the nearest whole (because you cannot purchase fractions of double rolls, and must thus buy them in their entirety). 


    Surface preparation is the key to successful wallpaper installation. The walls that will be papered over must be clean, dry and smooth (any surface imperfections/bumps should be sanded out and primed to ensure that uneven texture does not show through your wallpaper).

    You can also prime the wall beforehand with a Wallpaper Primer. This primer is meant to make it easier to remove wallpaper in the future, especially where sticky wallpaper paste is used. If you are dealing with a glossy or unusual surface like vinyl or paneling, use the Wallpaper Clear Acrylic Wall Size to help the wallpaper adhere better to the surface.

    Product and paste will not adhere to unclean, textured or nonstick surfaces. Allow for newly painted/primed surfaces to fully cure for 2-4 weeks before applying wallpaper for the best results. This is especially true for Peel-and-Stick wallpaper, as the glue is less adhesive to allow for easy removal/repositioning.



    To begin your wallpaper project, it’s important to have the correct tools to make the process easy and efficient. Make sure you have the following tools on hand for the installation (Italicized are optional, but recommended)

    1. Wallpaper paste*
    2. Wallpaper Primer (this makes future removals easier)
    3. Wallpaper Stripper (for removal of old wallpaper)
    4. A Wallpaper trough (for pre-pasted wallpaper)**
    5. A sharp exacto-blade / razor knife
    6. A ruler / straight edger
    7. A Tape Measure
    8. A plastic smoother (used to smooth out bubbles under the paper)
    9. A Seam Roller (in conjunction with a smoother to help keep seams flat)
    10. A pencil
    11. A leveler
    12. A friend (Trust us, it’s much easier with another set of hands!)

    * Omit if you have prepasted or peel-and-stick wallpaper. (Check individual patterns/manufacturer’s instructions for pasting options.** )

    ** See below for specific pasting information.



      There are multiple methods of application for wallpaper. The most common types are: Unpasted, Pre-Pasted and Peel & Stick. You may see a symbol on the roll or packaging similar to one of those in the above figure.



      As the name suggests, unpasted wallpaper is packaged without the adhesive glue needed to adhere it to the wall. For these types of rolls, the adhesive paste is sold separately and then needs to be applied either to the back of the wallpaper OR directly to the wall. Your specific pattern should indicate which of these two methods is recommended, but generally the two can be interchangeable. However, it is always recommended to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent user error.

      For Paste-the-Paper style adhesives, it is often recommended that you apply the paste to the paper and then “book it” inwards (meaning you fold the pasted sides in towards the middle without creasing in a similar shape as a dust-jacket on a book), leaving the paste to seep into the wallpaper backing for a few minutes before applying it to the wall.

      For Paste-the-Wall style, the paste can be applied evenly (but not thickly) over the wall that will be papered. It is best to do the pasting of the wall in small sections one roll wide at a time to prevent the glue from drying.


      Pre-pasted wallpaper comes already packaged with dried paste on the reverse side of the wallpaper pattern. This style of wallpaper pasting requires water to activate the dry glue. While there are several ways to wet the backing, the best and most reliable way is to use a wallpaper trough and run the paper through it. This ensures that the paste is wetted evenly and prevents some areas from being too dry. Other methods, such as using a spray bottle with water, are not as reliable and can lead to unnecessary tearing or peeling in areas where the glue was not properly wetted.


      A favorite of DIY-ers, Peel-and-Stick wallpaper is easy to apply and remove. This style is packaged with a removable backing similar to a large sticker. The sticky backing of Peel & Stick wallpaper allows it to be adjusted and removed easily both when applying the wallpaper and when taking it down later.

      For removing this type of wallpaper from the wall: start at the top corners, peeling downward slowly and evenly with a firm grip. Be cautious of over-stretching the paper material, which can warp the shape/pattern. Do not allow the sticky backing to come into contact with the wallpaper, as it is very difficult to separate it without damaging the wallpaper in the process.



      The pattern repeat is perhaps the most important factor when measuring wallpaper quantity.

      The pattern repeat indicates how much excess/waste occurs on each strip when another is put up adjacently. For the pattern to line up correctly when putting up a new strip of paper, the excess paper left at the top/bottom of the roll after lining up the seams is the pattern repeat. (ie. how much wasted paper occurs between strips when lining up the pattern)

      There are many types of Pattern Repeat Matches with varying symbols. The three most common are the Free Match, the Straight Match, and the Offset Match (for our purposes, we will consider this type to includes such methods as ‘half drop’ and ‘random match’ methods)


      The free match is the easiest repeat style to work with. This style can be matched up anywhere, and as such there is no real pattern repeat. You are free to line the strips up together however you please. This also means you get more out of the rolls because you do not have large amounts of waste between strips. This match style is common in grass cloth patterns, for example.


      A straight match will line up in the same place on every strip. This makes it easy to locate your “anchor point” when lining up the vertical seams. This also makes cutting your strips to length easier, because they can often be cut in the same place on the pattern every time (just make sure your strip is long enough and still has a bit of excess length!)


      Offset and Drop matches require more careful consideration to the pattern repeat. It is likely that these patterns will line up differently for each consecutive strip, meaning you will need to manually factor in the length of the pattern repeat every time you cut a new strip to ensure you can line up your seam will maintaining enough excess length on both horizontal seams to give you space for trimming. These types of matches typically have longer repeat lengths as well, which will need to be factored in to any calculations you are doing to determine the appropriate number of rolls.



      Proper hanging methods can make or break a wallpaper project. Follow our easy steps to ensure that your patterns line up properly with minimal wastage.


      1. Measure your wall’s height and determine how many rolls will fit across the total length of the wall. You can do this by holding up the roll to the wall and marking with a pencil where the edge of each roll/strip will be. It also helps to use your ruler to draw faint vertical lines down from these points to help you keep the wallpaper as straight as possible. 
      2. Choose which side (the left is often recommended) of the wall you will begin with, and plan to work towards the other end one row at a time. Some manufacturers recommend cutting all your strips ahead of time, but it is safer and more manageable to cut your strips one at a time to ensure that even if there is a slight printing discrepancy, you can adjust for it as you go.
      3. Cut your strip to length. This is based off your wall’s height. Make sure to add an extra inch or two to allow for trimming at the top and bottom of the wall, especially if you suspect your ceiling or floors are uneven.
        1. For subsequent strips, SEE STEP 5 for how to cut your strip so that it will line up along the vertical seam. * See above “Understanding Pattern Repeat” for more information relating to this step.
      4. Depending on your wallpaper’s paste type, this is the step where you will need to apply your wallpaper paste or activate your pre-pasted wallpaper using the recommended method. We recommend doing this one section/strip at a time to prevent the glue from drying before you can get the next strip up on the wall. 
        • ** See “Understanding Wallpaper Symbols and Hanging Styles” to determine the proper hanging method.
          1. Put up your strip of wallpaper, leaving a bit of excess paper overlapping at the top and bottom edges so that you can trim this later on. Adjust it until you have the paper sitting flush against the seam of the wall and that the appears appeals straight all the way down.
          2. (IF THIS IS YOUR FIRST STRIP, SKIP STEP 6 AND 7) BEFORE putting up an adjacent row, find your pattern “anchor”. To do so, find/choose a spot along the vertical edge of the now-adhered strip (nearer the top is easier) that you will use as a guide when lining up the pattern for your next strip. Before cutting the next strip, look for the point in the pattern that will match up with your “anchor”. Make sure you leave enough room ABOVE the anchor point to have some excess length at the horizontal edges for trimming.
          3. Add paste to the wall for the next strip, and begin to line up the vertical seam with the adjacent row. You should have a bit off excess length at the top and bottom of the wall. This excess will be trimmed later to make sure the pattern appears flush with the edges of the wall.
          4. Once your strip is glued down and positioned to your liking, use the wallpaper smoother with a firm but gentle pressure to push out air bubbles that form between the wall and the paper. Push the air starting from the center moving out towards the sides of the paper. Start from the top down to avoid unwanted wrinkling. Firm pressure is important in this step to properly adhere the wallpaper to the surface and remove all air pockets. If air bubbles reappear, smooth them back out with firm pressure.
          5. Carefully trim the excess width from the top and bottom of the roll. A steady hand and a straight edge can help you keep the trimmed line as straight as possible.
          10. Repeat these steps with the next strip of wallpaper. Be sure to align the vertical seam with the previous strip before trimming it or rolling out air bubbles.

             Have More Questions? Contact us at 416.767.5171 or info@westtorontopaint.ca

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