I’ve finished the graphic wallpaper for the kitchen, and I have a wallpaper tutorial for you!
Long time readers may remember that putting up wallpaper has always been one of those things that really scared me. More about that later, but I’m glad that I was finally able to mark this DIY project off my list for my quick and cheap kitchen update.
Here’s the wallpaper that I chose:
It’s by York Wallcoverings.
Let me be straight with you all about exactly why I chose this wallpaper. I found 5 rolls of this stuff at a thrift store, still in the package and in perfect condition, for $8 a roll. So I got over 300 square feet of wallpaper for forty bucks!
I had been on the lookout for a graphic wallpaper for the kitchen for awhile anyway- my Pinterest boards are full of them- and my budget is non-existent so this was an amazing find!
Here’s how I put up the wallpaper!
A wallpaper tutorial
Tools you’ll need to put up wallpaper
I’m linking the tools you’ll need here for your convenience (and these are affiliate links) but note, I had a lot of these or variations of these on hand…plus, I was on a serious budget and made do with what I had. I’ll make note of this as I go along.
Step by step: wallpaper tutorial
Here’s how I applied this wallpaper, including a before shot- you can see I had already taken down the wall shelves:
As I mentioned, I have always been super scared of hanging wallpaper. In fact, this is my first time hanging it. So I read tons of articles about how to hang it. This one by The Family Handyman was super helpful. One thing that they said was that even professional wallpaper hangers always read and follow the instructions included with the wallpaper- so I made sure I did too- for the most part.
Prepping the walls for wallpaper
- First, repair any dings or nail holes in the wall. I just used spackle and then sanded them down smooth. You’ll regret not doing this later (ask me how I know- I might have missed a hole or two). Then, clean your walls.
- You should apply a wallpaper size to the walls. According to all of the research that I did, wallpaper size helps provide a base for the wallpaper so that it is easier to remove later on. It also makes it easier to reposition the wallpaper around as you are applying. Size should be applied and allowed to dry several hours before you plan to wallpaper.
Soooo….I didn’t do this part. As I mentioned, I’m on a serious budget for this makeover. Our walls in the kitchen are fairly freshly painted in a satin finish, so they have a pretty good, shiny sheen. I figured that the wallpaper would move around okay with that base. I was right! Hopefully when it’s time for removal, I won’t regret that decision.
(Even though I didn’t use the size I linked above, it’s highly rated, so I’m linking it for your convenience should you choose to use size for your project.)
- Find the least visible corner of your room. The directions on my wallpaper said to measure out from that corner the width of the wallpaper, minus one inch. This is where you will begin your first piece. Looking back, I wish I would have only measured out one inch from the corner and began the first piece there- I’ll share more about why later.
- Measure your area from ceiling to floor, then add 4 inches. This will be the length of your first wallpaper strip.
- Using your level, mark a plumb line from ceiling to floor. This will give you an absolutely straight, plumb line to start your wallpaper with. Don’t start at the corner- corners in houses aren’t usually plumb. I used a pencil and marked a very light line from crown molding to baseboard.
Prepping the wallpaper
Prepare your wallpaper. Be sure that you follow your wallpaper directions for this, because they are all a little different. Here’s how I did mine:
- Measure the wallpaper and cut using the measurement you got before. My walls were 87 inches, so I cut my first strip 91 inches long.
- Activate the paste by putting the wallpaper in a shallow container for the amount of time stated on your wallpaper. Mine took 30 seconds.
Also, I didn’t have a pan quite wide enough for the wallpaper, and didn’t want to spend the money on the wallpaper pan, so I used a big BBQ tray that we had on hand. After just a few seconds of submerging, the wallpaper was super soft and pliable- so I was able to fold it and fully submerge it in the pan like so:
It worked perfectly fine! There were no tears, wrinkles, or creases doing it this way, and the wallpaper paste activated perfectly well. And, the BBQ pan was super cheap compared to the wallpaper tray so… just sayin’ 🙂
We call that Redneck Ingenuity around here.
- Then, book the wallpaper by folding it in on itself. Mine had to book for 5 minutes. This helps activate the paste.
Hang the wallpaper
- For your first strip, line your strip up exactly against your pencil line. You should be able to easily reposition it to place it where you need it.
- Now, this part can get tricky. Once you get the wallpaper in place, you’ll need it to stay in place so it can stick. Easier said than done- especially for the long pieces! The key is to use your wallpaper sponge and the smoother to smooth out all of the excess water, paste, and bubbles from the wallpaper so it will adhere to the wall. I also used it to get a tight fit against the baseboards- you can see that below.
- When you have the wallpaper in place, use your sponge to wipe down the wallpaper to get the extra paste off.
- Use the wallpaper roller to roll the seams in place so the wallpaper won’t budge later.
- The directions on my wallpaper called for trimming the excess wallpaper immediately after placing each strip. I initially started out doing this. However, I found that I had better luck with this after the wallpaper had a chance to dry out a little bit. So, I started trimming it after I had every other strip placed- this worked better.
- Be sure your utility knife and blades are super sharp and that you have several blades to trade out with! I tried to get a little stingy with how often I’d trade out- and this is what happened:
- Once you have your first strip hung, hang your next strip right next to your first using the same steps as before. Butt the strip right next to the first. Don’t overlap the seams- the strip should go right next to the first.
This picture is right up close to it- they really aren’t noticeable at all though-
I accidentally overlapped the seams over a doorway where I couldn’t really see that well- and here’s what it looks like:
How to deal with challenges of hanging wallpaper
There are some tricks for the inevitable challenges that come with hanging wallpaper- here’s how I dealt with them:
- Paper right over them, then cut a diagonal mark over the switch:
Then, simply trim the excess paper. Easy!
Obstacles, such as doorways and windows
- Don’t try to measure and cut your wallpaper to fit the doorway/window ahead of time! I read tutorials that advised against this and tried it anyway. It was a total fail. Just measure and prepare your wallpaper as usual. Hang your wallpaper over the doorway. Once you have it in position, then trim the excess from the doorway or window. When the excess is gone, go ahead and hang the wallpaper as usual.
I forgot to get a picture of this, but when you are going over the corner of the doorway molding, the wallpaper will pull a bit- just cut across it with some scissors. Hope this graphic makes it a bit clearer:
- If there are big obstacles, try to remove those if you can. I removed my hood vent, but it was one I bought off Amazon and it was easily removed.
What I mean is, the end of wallpapering your room. This is so, so tricky. Because you hope that when you get to the end of your room, the pattern would magically line up. But it usually doesn’t.
This is why you should start in the least obvious part of your room as possible- because you don’t want the pattern mismatch to be noticeable. With a different paper than the one I used, it would probably be a lot less obvious- but with this large, graphic print, it was pretty obvious.
So, that’s why I wish that I had started just an inch from the corner of my room instead of following my wallpaper’s directions and starting the width of the wallpaper minus an inch- it would have been much less noticeable that way.
My advice? Be sure to think really hard about your pattern and how it will look mismatched, as well as where the least obvious place in your room for that will be. Even if you have to go against the advice of your wallpaper- you may need to do that.
Can you see where I ended my wallpaper, below?
Oh, all right. Might as well show you some other “after” pics, right? 😉
I’m still working on this room- need to paint the counters and the lower cabinets, and hang a row of shelving. But wallpaper definitely succeeded in giving me the graphic punch I wanted in this space!
I hope this tutorial was helpful for you!