Easy Steps To Install Pre-Pasted Wallpaper

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Pre-pasted wallpaper is becoming more and more commonplace in today's growing DIY home improvement world. Manufactured with a thin layer of dry glue on the back side, pre-pasted wallpaper needs only a brush of water to be ready for in-home installation.

In all fairness, pre-pasted wallpaper is not installed any differently than traditional wallpaper. But instead of applying glue to the back of your wallpaper, you dip the paper in water, which "activates" the already-placed glue. While pre-pasted wallpaper is more expensive than traditional wallpaper, it saves the hassle of purchasing glue separately and applying it yourself, usually considered the most difficult part of wallpapering.

What You'll Need

All the supplies you'll need for installing pre-pasted wallpaper, you can buy at a home improvement center. You will need a vinyl smoother, a snap-off razor with an extra pack of blades, a seam roller and two 6-inch-broad knives. Other essential tools are a 6-foot-tall stepladder, a 5-gallon bucket, a paint roller and a 3/8-inch nap roller cover, sharp scissors, a 4-foot level, a 10-foot or longer tape measure, and a sponge. Of course, don't forget your wallpaper.


Before beginning a project in any room, line any trimming, wall borders, floors, etc. with masking tape and newspaper, if needed. This will protect window sills and other room additions from being stained or damaged during the installation process. Before unpacking the wallpaper, repair any dings or cracks in the walls with a joint compound and drywall tape. Mask the trim and apply an acrylic undercoat, also called sizing, over the surfaces that will be wallpapered. Apply paint around the edges and corners with a brush ("cut in"), and allow it all to dry overnight.

It's much easier to paper an empty room. If you can't remove all your furniture from the room, then move it to the centermost point of the room and cover it with plastic. Be sure to turn off the electrical power to the switches and outlets and to remove the cover plates. Place a canvas drop cloth over the floor to catch any dripping primer or water. If the ceiling or woodwork needs painting, then do it before you hang the wallpaper, avoiding any risk of paint drips or residue on your new wallpaper.

Particularly with pre-pasted paper, which dries much faster than traditional wallpaper glue, you should pre-plot your application area. Lay out your strips so that any patterns match at corners, where they're most noticeable, and avoid hanging strips that are less than a few inches wide. Narrow strips pose problems with flattening and bubbles. Measure your strips using your level and the roll of wallpaper, which will give you accurate estimates of where the strips will be. If your layout leaves strips less than 2 inches wide against a door or into a corner, then adjust your starting point by about 6 inches. In the best layouts, paper strips end in a less noticeable corner.


  1. Before starting, cut your paper into two or three strips that are 4 to 6 inches longer than the height of your wall, leaving space for trimming at the top and bottom. You should always install your paper top to bottom. To start, take one strip at a time and lay it on your work table. Roll your pre-pasted wallpaper into a tray of water to activate the paste. Some wallpaper suppliers recommend a special activator to guarantee it'll stick to the wall. Follow any specific directions provided with your product.
  2. Paste the back of your paper evenly on the designated wall destination. Roll it sideways to move paste to the edges, then back and forth vertically again until the paste is evenly spread. Repeat as necessary. Strips of pre-pasted wallpaper need to relax, allowing them to expand due to moisture in the paste. To prevent your paste from drying out while the paper adjusts, try "booking" your paper before applying. Simply fold the bottom half of your paper to the top half so the pasted sides face each other. This will keep the paste fresh while you're waiting to install the paper. Wallpaper packaging usually comes with booking instructions. You can safely let a sheet sit a little longer than the booking time, but never less, so plan ahead.
  3. Once your paper is applied, use a vinyl smoother across the paper, moving it up and down along the edge, then diagonally away from it, to work out bubbles and wrinkles. Align and flattern the bottom half of the paper the same way.
  4. Trim any overhanging paper with a sharp razor knife, using a 6-inch-broad knife as a guide. Slide the knife across while leaving the tip of the razor in the paper until the cut is complete. Corners are never perfectly straight, so always end paper at an inside corner and start your next strip on the other side of the corner. To conceal a seam, leave a quarter-inch strip of paper wrapped around the corner from one side.
  5. To cut around any windows and doors, trim the paper around the moldings by pressing it to the edge of the molding and making relief cuts with scissors and a razor until it lies flat to the wall. Using the razor, trim off the excess paper following the contour of the moldings. Guide your cuts with the broad knife on straight sections.
Last Updated: January 19, 2012
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About Emelie Battaglia Emelie Battagila is a contributing writer for Idealhomegarden.com

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