How to Wallpaper a Feature Wall


Creating a focal point elevates the mood and style of any space. One method that packs major "wow" factor is a wallpapered feature wall. With a little bit of pre-planning and concise application, this interior design technique can be mastered in a weekend for decor that can be enjoyed for decades.

Adding wallpaper to a wall in your room creates a budget-friendly focal point.
(Adding wallpaper to a wall in your room creates a budget-friendly focal point.)

Things You'll Need

  • Dry towel
  • Wallpaper primer
  • Stepladder
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint roller
  • Paint trays, 2
  • Wallpaper paste
  • Measuring tape
  • Utility knife
  • Straightedge
  • Small detail paintbrush
  • Squeegee
  • Sponge
  • Bucket of warm, soapy water
Step 1

Prep your feature wall by first removing all outlet covers and wiping the wall down with a clean, dry towel to remove dust and debris. Then paint on two coats of clear wallpaper primer right on top of the existing paint.

Pour a liberal amount of primer into a paint tray (the exact amount will depend on the size of your wall), and then use a paintbrush to cut in at the top, bottom and sides of the wall. Use a paint roller to coat the remainder of the wall with primer. Allow each coat to dry for one hour before putting on the next. After the last coat, allow the primer to dry overnight.

Specially formulated wallpaper primer ensures easy application and a long-lasting finish.
Carrie Waller
Step 2

Measure the height of your wall and note the number. On a clean, dry section of flooring, unroll the wallpaper and measure out to the height of the wall. Then add an extra 12 inches to allow for 6 inches of overhang on either end. Finish by cutting the strip off with a razor blade.

Cut a piece of wallpaper off the roll that is 6 inches longer on each end.
Carrie Waller
Step 3

Pour wallpaper paste into a clean, dry paint tray. With your wallpaper laid out on a clean, dry, flat surface (such as your floor) and with the backside of the wallpaper strip facing up, cover the entire surface in a thin and even layer of paste, using a roller.

It's OK to get the paste on your flat surface or floor as you roll it over the outside edges of the wallpaper strip. Just have a bucket of cleaning solution and a sponge nearby to wipe it up after lifting the paper up and off of your flat surface.

Choose a high quality wallpaper paste to ensure a strong bond between wallpaper and wall.
Carrie Waller
Step 4

Take each end of the wallpaper and fold it in toward the center so that none of the backside of the wallpaper is showing. This is called "booking" the paper. Allow the wallpaper to sit like this for five minutes.

Booking the wallpaper allows the paste to activate and become tacky.
Carrie Waller
Step 5

Unbook the wallpaper and, while holding the topmost two corners, climb onto a stepladder and situate the edge at the top of the wall where it meets the ceiling. Take advantage of the extra inches and allow for overhang on either end — both the top of the wallpaper strip and the bottom. Smooth loosely with your hands.

Situate the wallpaper against the wall with several inches of overhang on each end.
Carrie Waller
Step 6

Use a squeegee and then a slightly damp, clean sponge to straighten the wallpaper and to gently work out any bubbles that may have formed while hanging the strip. Finish by using a utility knife and straightedge to trim off the excess wallpaper at the top and at the bottom where it meets the molding.

Use a squeegee to work out bubbles that may form under the wallpaper.
Carrie Waller
Step 7

Repeat the steps across the entire wall, cutting additional strips of wallpaper, pasting, booking and hanging them in the same manner. To match up a pattern, unroll the wallpaper and hold it up on the wall without pasting it. After the pattern lines up, make a mark with a pencil at the top and the bottom of the wallpaper strip to denote your cuts later on (don't forget to add 6 inches off each end).

The wallpaper primer that you added earlier will give you about five minutes of wiggle room before the paper is in its permanent placement, so if anything needs to be straightened or any seams need to be tightened, do so by slowly and gently scooting the paper around with flat palms. Start with your large pieces of wallpaper and then move on to the small ones.

Repeat the steps across the wall until you reach the end.
Carrie Waller
Step 8

For smaller detail strips of wallpaper, measure the height as you did before, but also measure the width, because an entire strip of wallpaper isn't needed. Use a straightedge and measuring tape to cut this small strip of wallpaper to size.

For cutting in around windows, it's easiest to cut individual stripes of wallpaper to fit each edge and line up the points where they meet (as opposed to cutting out a large hole for the window).

Trim detail strips of wallpaper using a straightedge and razor blade.
Carrie Waller
Step 9

Paste and book the final small strip using the same technique used for the larger strips. Hang as you did the other strips, and trim as needed using a utility knife.

Paste and book detail strips just like larger ones.
Carrie Waller
Step 10

Allow the wallpaper paste to dry and the paper to settle entirely (about 24 hours) before adding nails for art or other wall hangings.

Allow your wallpaper to settle for 24 hours before hanging or leaning art on it.
Carrie Waller

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