Before you attempt to hang wallpaper, you’ll need to have the proper tools.
First, you’ll need a ladder. You will also need a pasting table, a drop cloth and a pasting brush or paint roller. Pasting brushes are flat brushes about six inches wide.
A good sharp razor knife does the best job of cutting wall coverings. I prefer the type that uses single-edged razor blades. Be sure to get extra blades. You will also need a length of heavy string and a plumb bob. This plumb line will allow you to start your application with a straight edge that is perpendicular to the earth, not necessarily the room. You could buy a chalk line that could double as a plumb line.
A yardstick comes in handy for measuring and layout. I prefer a good metal yardstick, as they work better as a straight edge for cutting. A putty knife, 6 inches wide, is used along with the razor knife for trimming. Smoothing brushes, normally 12 inches wide, are used to smooth out the wall covering and remove air bubbles. These brushes are long with no perpendicular handle — they come with long bristles for paper wall covering and short bristles for vinyl wall covering.
Two plastic buckets, one for clear water and the other for paste, are a must unless you use pre-pasted paper. With pre-pasted paper, you need only a water tray to soak the rolls. You will also need a little hard plastic roller that is called a steam roller and makes the joints between rolls fit better against the wall. Some stores offer all of these tools, except the ladder and drop cloth, in kit form.
Keep in mind that if you can measure and match patterns, you can hang wallpaper or other wall covering materials. There are some things that you will need to do to prepare your walls or ceilings before beginning the job of covering them with any material.
First, remove any old wall covering. Strippable wall coverings can easily be removed by peeling up a corner and then pulling the strips off. Strippable is a designation of manufacturers. Wall coverings that are impervious to water will need to be sanded to allow water to get through to the paste. After sanding, the walls can be sprayed with a mist of water, and after the water has soaked in, a scraper can be used to peel away the covering. Steamers can also be used after sanding to speed up the process. It is possible to apply a new covering over an old one, but the old wall covering must be in excellent shape and a smooth surface is preferred.
Prepare your walls by removing picture hooks and nails and any other accessories like switch and outlet covers and light fixtures. Switch covers and wall outlets are more easily covered off the walls. Fill in any cracks or holes with drywall compound or a similar material, let it dry, and then sand it smooth. Wash all the surfaces that you intend to cover, giving special attention to any areas that are greasy or have soot or other carbon-like substances on them.
Check the sizing recommendations for the wall covering you select that is specified by the manufacturer. Sizing is described as any of various gelatinous preparations made from a glue or starch and used for filling in pores in paper of cloth and so forth. A porous wall should be sized with a diluted glue mixture or the wall could be primed with a latex primer. You should apply sizing over any painted surface. You should not apply wallpaper over a drywall that has not been painted with at least a latex primer. Remember to check the manufacturer’s recommendations. If you plan to do any painting as part of this project, such as painting trim or door and window molding and doors, do these before you begin your wall covering.
Unroll and look at each roll of wall covering before you do any cutting or pasting. You want to make sure that there are no flaws in the roll, sometimes manufacturers slip up and let a mistake through their doors. Unrolling also helps the paper to begin to relax its curl and makes it easier to work with later.
If you are going to hang non-patterned textured stuff, check the wrapping for instructions for “reverse or non-reverse.” This is an alternating of the top and bottom of successive strips. Use a pencil and mark the top with a “T” and the bottom with a “B” on each strip. This will be a great help when you’re working on the job.
Take the time to move as much furniture as possible out of the room and properly spread your drop cloths. You can make holes in the wall where you had picture hangers by sticking toothpicks in them. As you smooth the wall covering over that spot you remove the toothpick momentarily and stick it through the wall covering to remark the hole. Never use newspaper to cover your pasting table because the newsprint comes off too easily and can soil your new wall covering. Keeping these things in mind should make the job go smoothly.