How To Cover Wallpaper

How To Cover Wallpaper

How To Cover Wallpaper

Understanding Wallpaper Coverage: The Basics

Having a solid understanding of how much area a wallpaper roll can cover is key to a successful wallpaper installation project. Doing so will ensure that you buy an appropriate amount of wallpaper and reduce waste or shortage while working on your project.

Know Your Wallpaper's Specifications

Firstly, it is essential to hand at hand the specifications of the wallpaper you wish to use. There are two crucial numbers to look for: the width and the length of the roll. Typically, in the United States, most wallpaper rolls measure 27 inches in width and 27 feet in length. Nonetheless, these dimensions can vary. Therefore, always verify the specifications of your wallpaper before purchase.

Calculating Wallpaper Coverage

When you have your wallpaper's dimensions, calculate the square footage it can cover. You can obtain this by multiplying the width and the length of the roll. However, remember the result will be in square feet, so if your room measurements are in another unit, conversion may be necessary.

Example of Wallpaper Coverage Calculation

For instance, with a standard U.S. roll that is 27 inches wide and 27 feet long, the square footage that roll of wallpaper can cover is roughly 60.75 square feet. This calculation factors in a 25% waste allowance, usually sufficient for pattern repeats and trimming.

Factor in the Pattern Repeat

You also need to factor in the 'pattern repeat' if your chosen wallpaper has a design. Wallspace may be wasted to align the pattern correctly as you hang each strip. Depending on the complexity and size of the pattern, the waste could be significant. Adjust your calculations accordingly to ensure you purchase enough wallpaper.

Measuring Your Space

To determine the number of wallpaper rolls you'll need, you must also measure the area you intend to cover. Add up the width of each wall, then multiply by the room's height. This gives the total square footage of your wall space. Don't forget to subtract the area of doors and windows, as they won't need wallpaper coverage.

Your Wallpaper Needs

By dividing the total square footage of your space by the coverage of one roll, you'll determine the needed number of wallpaper rolls. Our advice is to always round up and buy an extra roll. This surplus can account for any mistakes, or future repairs.

This basic knowledge of wallpaper coverage is instrumental in planning your wallpaper project. It prevents buying excess wallpaper or having a shortage mid-way. Happy wallpapering!

Factors to Consider before Covering Wallpaper

Covering existing wallpaper can be a convenient alternative to removing it, especially when trying to revamp your decor. However, there are several factors to keep in mind before proceeding with this decision. These factors include the condition of the existing wallpaper, the type of new wall covering you intend to use, and the surface you’re working with.

Condition of the Existing Wallpaper

Before covering the existing wallpaper, it’s essential to assess its condition. Damages such as peeled corners, ripples, or bubbles can hinder the new wallpaper's look and adhesion process. In these cases, it might be better to remove the old wallpaper before installing the new one. If the existing wallpaper is vinyl, it may also be challenging for the glue of the new wallpaper to adhere.

Type of New Wall Covering

The type of wall covering you intend to use will also influence your decision to cover or remove the existing wallpaper. For instance, paint, thin wallpapers, or fabrics may show texture or patterns from the old wallpaper through. On the other hand, thicker or textured wallpapers can successfully mask the patterns and lines of the existing wallpaper underneath.

Know Your Surface

It's critical to know the type of surface beneath your wallpaper. If your walls are made of plaster or drywall, they can generally handle layers of paper. However, if you're dealing with wood paneling, it may not take the weight of multiple wallpaper layers.

The Room’s Humidity

Humidity can affect the adhesion of the new wall covering, especially in areas like the kitchen or bathroom. If the existing wallpaper in these areas is at all loose, it's best to remove it to avoid future issues.

Preparation Steps

Deciding to cover old wallpaper implies certain preparation steps that you can't overlook. This may include cleaning the walls, filling in any holes or dents with joint compound, and sanding down the surface for a smoother finish.

Professional Consultation

When unsure, it's always wise to seek professional advice. A skilled decorator can evaluate the condition of your walls and the existing wallpaper, recommending either covering or removal based on their assessment.

Cost and Time

The cost and time involved in covering the wallpaper versus removing it also factor in. If removal requires a professional, the cost can add up, and the process might be lengthy. On the contrary, if the existing wallpaper is in good shape and adheres well, the immediate cost and time savings may justify covering it with the new material.

Tools and Materials Needed to Cover Wallpaper

Before starting the process of covering wallpaper, it is essential to gather the correct tools and materials. Using the right materials can streamline the process and ensure a smoother application and better end result. Here are the tools and materials that you will need:

High-Quality Wallpaper

Find wallpaper that appeals to you and matches your interior design. Keep in mind, the quality of the wallpaper is paramount. Select a durable and robust wallpaper that can withstand wear and tear. Additionally, the color and pattern should synchronize well so that once it's applied, it would stand out and add aesthetic value to your space.

Wallpaper Paste

Wallpaper paste is used to bond the wallpaper to your wall. It's advisable to select a high-quality paste, as it will affect how your wallpaper sticks and stays on the wall. Some wallpapers come with pre-pasted backings; however, buying additional wallpaper paste can be useful in achieving a firm bond.

Smoothing Tool or Wallpaper Brush

A smoothing tool is used to flatten the wallpaper onto the wall and remove any air bubbles that may form during application. A wallpaper brush can also be used for smoothing out the wallpaper. Using these tools will guarantee a clean and smooth finishing that is free of creases and bubbles.

Utility Knife

A utility knife is used for cutting and trimming the wallpaper to accommodate windows, doors, and electrical outlets. It can also be used to trim excess wallpaper. Remember, to achieve a neat and clean cut, it's crucial to use a sharp blade and replace it regularly, particularly when working with thicker wallpapers.

Roller and Paint Tray

If you choose to paint over your wallpaper, you'll need a paint roller and tray. The roller helps spread paint evenly without the brush stroke marks that brushes often leave behind. The paint tray helps to distribute the right amount of paint onto the roller.


A step ladder is essential for reaching higher parts of the wall, especially when applying wallpaper or painting in rooms with high ceilings.

Level Line Maker

A level line or chalk line tool helps to ensure wallpaper is hung straight. This is crucial, as even a slight slant can affect the final appearance of your wallpaper.

Now that you have knowledge about the necessary tools and materials required to cover wallpaper, you can confidently prepare for your home improvement task. Remember, the better the quality of your tools and the more precise you are in using them, the better the outcome will be.

Step-by-step Guide to Preparing Your Walls

Before we unveil the magic of how you'll transform your space with wallpaper, it's essential to understand the value of rigorous preparation. Here's a detailed guide to prepping your walls for wallpaper.

Identify and Repair Wall Imperfections

Begin by cleaning the wall surface, paying careful attention to minor and significant imperfections. Small holes and cracks can be covered with a thin coat of joint compound or spackle. For larger cracks or holes, it may be necessary to use a patch or plaster. After the repairs have dried, lightly sand the surface for smoothness.

Remove Existing Wallpaper or Paint

Wallpaper adheres best to a clean, smooth surface. If there's already wallpaper on the walls, it's crucial to remove it before proceeding. For painted walls, remove loose or peeling paint, and lightly sand glossy surfaces to achieve an optimal surface for the wallpaper to cling.

Clean Your Walls

After the surface is free of old wallpaper or paint, give it a thorough cleaning. Wash your walls with mild dish soap and warm water, rinse thoroughly and allow them to dry. It's crucial as it helps to eliminate grease, dust, and other residues that could prevent proper adhesion of your new wallpaper.

Apply a Wall Primer

Wall primers are not always essential, but they play a key role in providing added adhesion, reducing the possibility of seams separating and assisting in the ease of future wallpaper removal. Thus, consider applying a thin layer of wall covering primer. This step is especially important if your walls have heavy stains or are painted with a glossy paint.

Measure and Cut Your Wallpaper

Measure the height and width of your wall and cut the wallpaper accordingly. It's advisable to add a few extra inches to the height to compensate for uneven ceilings and floors.

Mark Your Walls

Before hanging the wallpaper, mark your starting point with a pencil. This should be just slightly wider than the width of the wallpaper. Using a level, extend this mark upwards to the ceiling to create a straight vertical line. This will act as your guide when hanging the first strip of wallpaper, ensuring that it’s hung straight.

Prepare the Wallpaper Paste

If your wallpaper doesn’t come pre-pasted, you'll have to prepare the paste. Depending on the type of wallpaper and paste you are using, this process could vary, so be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions closely.

As you can see, proper wall preparation is the foundation of a successful wallpaper project. Adhere to these steps and you're guaranteed to have a smooth and rewarding wallpaper experience.

Primer Application: Process and Tips

Importance of Primer

Applying primer is an important step in the wallpaper covering process. Primer helps to ensure a smooth and durable surface that the wallpaper can adhere to consistently. By using primer, you not only enhance the durability and longevity of your wallpaper but also improve its appearance.

Choosing the Right Primer

There are several types of primer available in the marketplace, and choosing the right one can make a significant difference in the outcome of your project. For covering wallpaper, it is best to use an oil-based primer or a shellac primer as they adhere best to the wallpaper's surface.

Preparing Your Walls

Before applying primer, it is crucial to adequately prepare your walls. This includes cleaning the existing wallpaper, smoothing any rough patches, and filling in any cracks or holes. Notably, the better prepared the wall is, the better the final result will be.

Apply Primer

The primer can be applied using a brush or a roller. For best results, apply a thin, even layer of primer across the entire surface. Let the first coat of primer dry completely before applying a second coat. This added layer will provide extra durability and ensure the wallpaper adheres properly.

Let it Dry

After the last coat of primer is applied, it is important to allow it to dry completely before continuing to the next step. The drying time will depend on the type of primer used, the room's temperature, and the level of ventilation in the room. Check the primer's instructions for specific drying times.

Getting Ready for the Wallpaper

Once the primer is dry, you are ready to apply the wallpaper. The primer should create a smooth, even surface that can easily take the adhesive. To test if the wall is ready, you can lightly touch the primed wall. It should feel slightly tacky but should not stick to your fingers.

Final Thoughts

Applying primer can seem like an extra step, but it is crucial for achieving a professional-looking finish when covering wallpaper. By following the steps mentioned above, you can ensure your primer application process is successful and allows for a flawless wallpaper application experience.

Selecting the Right Paint for Your Wall

Selecting the right paint to cover your wallpaper requires careful consideration to ensure the paint adheres well, hides the wallpaper pattern, and provides a suitable finish. The type of paint you choose should align with the purpose of the room and your personal aesthetic preferences. Here are some factors to consider:

Type of Paint

The most common types of paint used to cover wallpaper are latex-based and oil-based paints. Latex paints are water-based, easy to work with, and have quick drying times. They're a popular choice because of their wide range of colors and finishes.

Oil-based paints, on the other hand, take longer to dry but provide a more durable and shiny finish. They can be tougher to work with due to their strong smell and more complicated clean-up, but they may be preferable in high-traffic areas or rooms exposed to moisture, like bathrooms or kitchens.


The finish or sheen of a paint can drastically change the appearance of a room. Matte and flat paints offer a non-reflective finish, perfect for hiding imperfections in the wallpaper. Satin and eggshell finishes provide a lightly shiny surface that is easier to clean than flat paint. Semi-gloss and gloss paints are highly reflective and durable, suitable for rooms with heavy usage or moisture.


The color of paint you choose should complement the room's decor and shape. Light colors can make a small room seem larger, while dramatic or dark colors can add depth and coziness. Neutral colors are a safe and versatile option, while bold colors can create a strong statement.

Primers and Sealers

Before applying your final coat of paint, it may be necessary to use a primer or sealer. This substance prepares the wallpaper surface for the paint, ensuring better adhesion and a smoother, more consistent finish. A primer can also help hide dark colors or patterns in the original wallpaper.

Specific considerations for wallpaper

When painting over wallpaper, choose high-quality paints and consider using a sealer or primer specifically designed for wallpaper. Also, be mindful that heavy-duty, gloss finishes may cause the wallpaper to bubble or peel.

The Benefit of Professional Advice

If you're unsure about what type of paint to choose, consult with a professional. They can guide you in choosing the right paint type, finish, and color to suit your room and cover the wallpaper effectively.

Techniques of Painting Over Wallpaper

Despite the traditional approach of removing old wallpaper before redecorating, there are circumstances when painting over wallpaper can be a practical solution. Here are few techniques you can use when you decide to go down this road.

1. Preparing the Wallpaper for Paint

Thorough preparation is key to the success of painting over wallpaper. This involves making sure that the surface is smooth, clean, and free from any loose sections. You should also fill any holes or cracks using a fast-drying patching compound, properly applied with a putty knife. Once dry, smooth over the surface with a sanding block for the best results.

2. Sealing the Wallpaper

It is advisable to seal the wallpaper with a primer. This isolates the wallpaper color and pattern from the paint, preventing undesired mixing. It also provides an ideal surface for the paint to adhere to, and can prevent the wallpaper from soaking up paint and peeling off. A shellac-based primer works great for this purpose.

3. Using The Right Type of Paint

When painting over wallpaper, using an oil-based or latex paint is usually the best choice. These types of paint adhere better to the wallpaper surface and are long-lasting. Always apply two coats, allowing the first to dry before applying the second, for full opacity and max color payoff.

4. Choosing a Painting Technique

There are several painting techniques to choose from. The choice depends on the desired effect. Some techniques like sponging, ragging, and stippling can be great for adding depth and texture to the walls. When using such techniques, ensure that a base coat is applied before starting the decorative process.

5. Taking Care of Problematic Areas

Some parts of the wallpaper, like edges and seams, can prove tricky during the painting process. To deal with these, you might need to apply extra primer or adhesive to these areas to ensure they do not peel off after painting. In case of any noticeable seams after painting, lightly sand them and repaint.

6. Final Touches

Once the paintwork is done and dry, if necessary, you can apply your desired finish. This can be high-gloss, semi-gloss, satin, eggshell, or matte, depending on your preference. Finally, reinstall any fixtures or cover plates removed during the process to complete the look.

7. Drying Time

Patience is key during the drying process. While it may be tempting to hasten the process, it is advisable to allow the paint ample time to dry between coats and even more after the final coat. This will result in a strong, durable finish for your newly painted wall.

8. Maintenance

Last but not least, maintaining the paint over the wallpaper is essential. You can do this by cleaning your walls regularly while being careful not to soak them. By maintaining them well, you ensure your walls remain looking fresh and new for a longer period of time.

Final Steps: Cleaning and Maintenance After Wallpaper Coverage

Once you've successfully covered your wallpaper, it's essential to follow-up with proper maintenance and cleaning methods to maintain its fresh look and longevity. This involves routine dusting, occasional deep cleaning, and promptly dealing with stains and spills.

Regular Dusting

Vacuum the surface of the wallpaper with a soft brush attachment to remove dust at least once a week. This simple routine prevents dust buildup which can stick onto the wall and create a dirty look over time.

Deep Cleaning

Occasionally, your wallpaper may require more than just a dust down. Use a natural sponge dampened with a solution of warm water, white vinegar, and a drop of dish soap for this task. Rub the sponge gently over the wallpaper, rinse it regularly to avoid re-soiling the wall, and avoid overwetting the wallpaper as it could cause damage.

Handling Stains and Spills

Spills and stains should be dealt with immediately to prevent them from seeping into the wallpaper and causing potentially permanent damage. Blot the stained area with a white cloth or sponge dipped in a mild detergent solution. Do not rub, as this could spread the stain.

Wallpaper Longevity

Careful and regular maintenance not only keeps your wallpaper looking its best, but it also enhances its durability. It's wise to keep a few extra rolls of the same wallpaper for future repairs and patching. Match the pattern carefully to ensure a seamless blend.

Protecting Wallpaper

Take preventive measures to protect the wallpaper from potential damage. Keep potential stain-causing materials like crayons and markers away from walls, especially if there are children in the house. Also, avoid placing furniture close to wallpapered walls as it can cause excessive wear and damage over time.