How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

With so many beautiful wallpaper borders available, you should be able to find a design that complements the existing decor of the space you would like to freshen up. Installing a wallpaper border is a simple and an inexpensive way of freshening up the look of any room.

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

Application Method

  • Determine if your border is pre-pasted or unpasted, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how to activate or apply the adhesive.
  • Make sure the surface you are applying the border to is clean and smooth. If you’re installing a wallpaper border over existing wallpaper, you’ll get the best results using a vinyl-to-vinyl adhesive.
  • If you’re applying a border over painted walls: Lightly sand the border wall area before applying the border, as this will improve the strength of adherence.

Measure & Cut

  • Measure the length of your first wall and cut a strip of wallpaper border 2 inches/50mm longer, to allow for a little overlap on each end.
  • The easiest way to handle the pasted border is to gently fold the border accordion/concertina style, taking care not to crease the folded areas.

Hang Your First Strip

  • When you’re ready to hang your first length of border, it is important to decide on the best location to start. To hide any mismatched seams it is best to start in an inconspicuous place, such as behind the door used to enter the room.
  • To install the border perfectly, use a spirit level and draw a light pencil line around the room at the desired height.

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

Top of Wall Border

Start in the corner and follow the ceiling around the room allowing a 1 inch/ 25mm overlap for the corners. Fix and smooth the border using a smoothing brush as you go. Clean off any excess paste with a damp cloth or sponge.

Middle of Wall Border

A border at this height was originally called a Dado or chair rail border. Start by using a spirit level and a pencil to mark a faint line around the room at the desired height. Of course, you only need to mark a line for the location of either the top or the bottom of the border.

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

Window or Door Border

When hanging a border around a door or window, overlap both the horizontal and vertical strips in the corner.

Use a utility knife to cut through both pieces on a 45° angle from the corner. Remove the excess paper. Smooth the seams and remove any excess paste.

Hanging Additional Strips

  • Measure and cut the next border strip at a point where you can easily match the pattern to the previous strip, again allowing for a 1inch/ 25mm overlap at each corner.
  • When you have hung the border, cut through the overlap with a utility knife, using a straight edge (putty knife or wallpaper edge trimmer) as a guide, and remove the excess paper.
  • Use a seam roller to flatten the seams and create a perfect Butt joint.
  • Clean off any excess paste with a damp cloth or sponge.

If your room is looking really tired and a wallpaper border alone will not suffice, then there is another way for you to create a whole new look with wallpaper, without the cost of hiring a professional wallpaper installer.

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

Every great journey begins with one small step. And when it comes to hanging wallpaper, the first step is one of the most important. Wallpaper can’t cling to greasy, dirty walls, old wallpaper or paint. That’s why we can’t emphasize enough how critical it is to have your walls properly prepared.

Sizing Things Up

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

One-step primer/sealers have all but eliminated the need for wall sizing. A coat of acrylic primer provides a new, even surface on the wall which makes it easier to slide wallcoverings into position. It also prevents the wall itself from absorbing moisture, which protects against future damage. Alkyd (oil) primers are equally, if not more, effective. However, an acrylic primer or regular sizing should also be used over the alkyd primer to provide adequate slippage.

Something Old

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

Existing walls need special attention. Paint can create problems based upon its original quality or how long it has been on the wall. If it’s old, paint can become unstable and should be sealed with primer/sealer to insure a successful wallcovering installation.

Filling The Holes

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

Nail holes, chips, cracks and wall irregularities should be filled with vinyl spackling compound before primer is applied. Use a broad knife to apply spackle right from the can. Force the compound well into the hole and smooth the surface. When the compound dries, sand, smooth and seal the wall with a primer.

How to Wash Walls

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

Surfaces coated with flat (non-gloss) paint should be scraped (if old and flaking), sanded smooth and washed with an all-purpose cleaner. When dry, apply acrylic primer and hang wallcovering.

Walls covered with high- or semi-gloss paint should be sealed with an acrylic primer. In a room where mildew occurs, wash the wall with a mixture of bleach and water. Rinse, let dry and apply primer.

Cleaning Mildew

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

Mildew can show up on walls as a yellow, green, gray or black colored area. If this occurs, wash walls with a concentrated solution of one cup bleach and one gallon of hot water. Apply with a paint brush or sponge and let sit for one hour. Rinse with warm water, let dry and coat with alkyd primer/sealer. All Wallpapers To Go products are mildew-resistant and will keep the problem from reoccurring if all fungus is removed prior to hanging.

Use Wallpaper Liner For Uneven Walls

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

Wallpaper liner evens the surface of heavily-textured walls and bridges gaps and cracks on other problem walls. It is an easy, inexpensive way to provide an even, porous surface and increases adhesion by absorbing excess moisture. Allow paper to dry thoroughly (36 hours) before applying 2 coats of a white primer/sealer.

How to Strip Wallpaper

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

Most wallcoverings are strippable and easy to remove. However, if you’re having difficulty, your wallpaper can be soaked with wallpaper remover using a large sponge, spray bottle or roller. If your paper is non-porous, score the wallcovering with a “paper tiger.” After stripping paper, wash walls with a cleaner and apply primer.

If you prefer to paper over an existing wallcovering, make sure it is firmly attached to the wall and is as smooth as possible. Cut an “X” in any bubbles and tear the loose pieces away, feathering the edges. Sand seams and glue down any curling corners with seam adhesive. Finally, seal the existing wall with white acrylic primer.

New Construction

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

For new drywall, gypsum wallboard or other porous surfaces that have never been sealed or painted, apply two coats of alkyd primer. This assures that the paper will be strippable. When the alkyd primer is dry, apply one coat of clear acrylic primer and let dry (2 hours) before hanging wallpaper.

Wood Paneled Walls

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

Wash thoroughly with a deglossing solution and water, then sand smooth. Fill vertical grooves of paneling with spackle and apply primer; or apply primer and hang heavy-duty lining paper. Seal with acrylic or alkyd primer, allow to cure, and hang wallcovering.

Misfit Walls

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

Even if your walls are covered in plastic paneling, vinyl, Formica, or glass, you can still apply wallcoverings! Just wash the surface with an all-purpose cleaner and apply a coat of acrylic wall primer.

How To Wallpaper Over Textured Walls

Textured walls might prevent the wallpaper adhesive for sticking like it should. With proper preparation, you can make even heavily-textured walls ready for wallpaper. Here are three simple methods for removing or concealing wall texture.

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

With any home improvement project, doing the job right is a job well done. Although it may take longer than you intend due to unexpected, but inevitable snags along the way, following the proper steps in completing the job produces beautiful work you can be proud of. This is no more relevant than in the case of wallpapering.

Although throwing the paper up right away may be tempting, it may not end up giving you the long lasting results and quality you would expect. Whether hanging wallpaper yourself or relying on a professional, every step should be followed to ensure your paper is properly installed. One of the most important of these steps is priming.

By priming your walls with either an acrylic, alkyd, or PVA primer, depending on the surface type, will ensure your wallpaper adheres properly to the surface without damaging the wall.

Protecting The Wall

Primer creates a barrier between the wall and the paper so that the adhesive doesn’t overly bond with the wall material. An example of this is wallpapering directly onto unprimed drywall. The gypsum material in the drywall overly bonds with the adhesive in the wallpaper, which makes wallpaper incredibly difficult to remove without damaging the wall.

Priming also blocks color from showing through the new wallpaper. This is especially true if you’re hanging wallpaper on brightly colored walls. The last thing you’d want is to hang your beautiful new wallpaper, only to notice that bright green hue from the previous homeowner’s wall color is showing right through.

The Issue Of Latex

You may be inclined towards putting up wallpaper directly on latex paint covered walls, especially since the most popular wallpaper primer is latex based anyway. But, there’s a big difference between latex paint and latex based wallpaper primer.

Latex paint is often porous, allowing the wall to breathe. When the wallpaper adhesive comes into contact with latex paint, there is a real chance the integrity of the paint will degrade, becoming soft, mushy, or rubbery. There’s also a chance the adhesive can pass right through the latex paint, damaging the drywall underneath.

How To Prime Your Walls

The very first thing you’ll need to do before applying primer is ensuring the wall is as smooth as it can be. This means removing any nails or other protrusions, and filling uneven spots, cracks, and holes with putty. Then sand your repairs down so that it’s even with the rest of the wall.

The next step to take before applying primer is giving your walls a good wash. This is simply achieved with a good multi-purpose cleaner, a bucket of warm water, and a sponge. Once the wall has been washed and has dried completely, you can apply your primer.

If you have questions about which primer to use after reading the installation instructions that came with the paper, contact your wallpaper consultant. Although acrylic based primer is used often, there may be some specific surfaces that are best suited for alkyd or PVA primers.

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

Adding a border to your walls can help define the space and add a punch of color or pattern to an otherwise plain wall. If you’ve resisted adding one to your room because wallpaper borders strike you as a bit dated, it may be time to reconsider. There are plenty of alternatives to traditional wallpaper borders that can add personality and character to your home. To find the ideal design for your border, consider the function of the room that you’re decorating and its style, and choose an option that complements the rest of the decor.

Paint It

Painting your border is usually the easiest way to go if you want a custom look. For a simple design, use painter’s tape to mark off a horizontal stripe in your desired thickness and paint it with a solid color that contrasts with the wall shade. Using the same color paint in a different finish provides a more subtle look. You can even use a glitter topcoat or glow-in-the-dark paint to create a subtle border over the existing wall color for your child’s room. If you want a more decorative look for your painted border, however, use wall stencils or stamps to add a pattern along the border of your room. For a child’s room, you might use heart or race car stencils to create a whimsical border. For a more mature look, try a fleur-de-lis or Italianate design.

Go Gilded

Instead of a traditional wallpaper border, use gold or silver leaf to create your own gilded border for your walls. Metallic leaf is available in booklets that contain multiple sheets or as a roll. For a border, the sheets usually work best. Measure your wall so you know how wide you want your gilded border to be and use a straightedge to pencil in a guideline. You’ll need to apply an adhesive size to hold the gold or silver leaf in place – a water-based formula is usually best for indoor application. A roller works well to apply the adhesive. When you apply the leaf over the adhesive, you should overlap the sheets so there are no gaps. Follow up with a soft gilder’s brush to smooth the leaf in place. If you notice any gaps in your border, apply scraps of leaf until the entire line is solid. To ensure that your gilded border lasts, apply a varnish or leaf lacquer on top to keep it in tact.

Hang Photos

For a personal twist on a wall border, create a striking edge along your room by using photographs. Depending on the look that you want, you can use photos of family and friends or scenic vistas to form your border. For an elegant look, have your chosen photos printed in black and white and use black photo mats to hold them. Hang the matted photos along the top of the wall for simple, sophisticated look. If you prefer a more eclectic, whimsical look, choose photo frames in different sizes, shapes and colors, and use those to display the photos along the top of the walls for fun, personalized border.

Display Collectibles

If you’re a collector, create a unique wall border from your favorite collectibles. Use decorative plates to create a border around the top of your dining room walls, or hang your teen’s baseball cap collection around the top of his bedroom walls. If you collect objects that you can’t hang on the wall directly, like music boxes, candlesticks or shot glasses, install floating shelves at the top of your walls to hold the objects. It can be a particularly sweet look for a child’s room since you can use the shelves to create a border of your child’s favorite toys or stuffed animals.

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

The removal of old wallpaper borders provides a quick room update without the need for a complete renovation. Wallpaper borders come in two main varieties. Self-adhesive types work like a sticker and typically peel off with minimal damage to the walls. Wallpaper border that use wallpaper glue require more time-consuming removal and prep work before you can begin repainting. When possible, repaint the entire wall after border removal so there is no slight difference in the color of the paint in the border area and the rest of the wall.

Combine 2 tablespoons ammonia with with a gallon of warm water in a bucket. Fill a second bucket with clear water.

Wash the walls, beginning at the bottom and working upward, using the ammonia solution and a soft sponge. Scrub lightly to remove the excess wallpaper paste where the border was located. Wash the entire wall, even if you are only repainting the border area.

Wipe the wall with a clean sponge and the clear water to rinse away the ammonia. Wipe away excess water with a clean towel then allow the wall to air dry.

Sand the border area lightly with a fine-grit sandpaper. Sanding removes any remaining wallpaper paste. Avoid heavy sanding that tears into the drywall.

Tape off molding, outlets, and door or window frames with painter’s tape before proceeding. Cover the floor with a painter’s tarp to protect it from drips.

Pour an interior latex primer into the paint tray. Paint over the border area with the primer and a paint roller. Apply primer only to the border area if you are only repainting this area. Primer the entire wall if you are repainting the room. Allow the primer to dry for two hours.

Fill a clean paint tray with the interior latex paint of your choices. Paint the entire wall or just the border area, as desired. Allow the paint to dry for two hours then apply a second coat. Allow this final coat to dry overnight before touching the walls.

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

After all the time, effort and money that went into finding your new home, personalizing it can be a daunting prospect. You don’t need to repaint an entire room or paper all its walls to give it a stylistic facelift: A decorative border packs a lot of aesthetic punch for much less work. Select a prepasted border, and you cut down the installation effort even further. Hang the border immediately below the ceiling or crown molding for the simplest installation, or hang it along the top or bottom third of the wall to make a more dramatic design statement.

Sand the paint on the walls where you plan to hang your border to roughen the surface. Clean the strip of wall thoroughly with soapy water and a sponge, and rinse with clean water. Allow it to dry.

Paint a wallpaper primer-sealer onto the strip of wall. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that the primer-sealer is effective.

Use a measuring tape, a level and a pencil to mark a line on the wall where you want the bottom or top of the border to rest, or use a laser level to indicate the line. If you are hanging the border at the joint of the wall and the ceiling, you can use the ceiling as your level.

Stand facing the room’s least conspicuous corner. Hang a plumb bob and line immediately to the right of the corner. Using a pencil, mark the vertical line it indicates on the wall at the level where you plan to hang the border. Corners are seldom perfectly square, and this mark will help you hang the border straight.

Measure the length of each wall with the tape measure. Because corners aren’t usually perfectly square, facing walls can be slightly different lengths, so measure each one individually. Cut a strip of border for each wall with a utility knife. Leave three or four extra inches on each strip.

Fill a water tray with warm water. Roll a strip of border into a loose tube shape, with the adhesive side facing out. Soak the border in the water for the amount of time specified by the border’s manufacturer.

Pull slowly on the end of the tube of border paper, unrolling it from the water. When you have pulled out a few feet of paper, fold it back on itself, with the pattern on the outside. Continue pulling out feet of border and folding the strip accordion-style, always with the pasted sides together. This is called “booking” the border, and it allows the paste to activate and the paper to expand to its true size. Allow the border to book for the length of time the manufacturer specifies.

Unfold the strip of border. Align one end with the plumb line you drew in the least conspicuous corner of the room. If you have marked a level for the border, align the paper with the level; otherwise, align it with the joint between the wall and the ceiling.

Smooth the border onto the wall using a vinyl smoother or wallpaper brush. Work slowly and carefully, keeping the border aligned with the penciled level or the ceiling. Continue this way until you reach the next corner.

Wrap the extra inches at the end of the border strip over the corner, and smooth the border on the wall you’ve been papering all the way into the crease. Smooth the excess onto the next wall. Trim the excess to 1/4 inch, using a sharp utility knife and a straight edge.

Book and unfold the next strip of border. Match the pattern on the new strip to the pattern on the strip already in the corner, trimming if necessary to ensure the pattern is continuous. Attach the new strip over the excess 1/4 inch of the previous strip, using the plumb bob and line to make sure the new strip is straight. Trim off the top layer of the overlap, leaving the bottom layer.

Continue applying the border around the remaining walls in the same manner. Use a clean, damp sponge to wipe off excess paste from the walls and the front of the border as you go.

Here is everything you need to know about how to hang a wallpaper border perfectly!

Step 1

Determine Border Application Method

  • Establish if your border is pre-pasted or unpasted and follow the pre-pasted instructions or unpasted instructions to adhere your border to the wall.
  • Applying Vinyl Border Over Vinyl Wallpaper: Use a “vinyl-over-vinyl” border adhesive.
  • Applying Border Over Painted Walls: Lightly sand the border wall area before applying the border.

Step 2

Measure & Cut Wallpaper Border

  • Measure the length of your first wall and cut a strip of wallpaper border 3 inches longer to allow for overlap on each end.
  • For easy handling, gently fold the border accordion style without creasing the folds.

Step 3

Hang First Wallpaper Border Strip

Hang from Top of Wall

  • Follow the ceiling line around the room, allowing at least 1/2 inch overlap at corners.

Hang Around Middle of Room

  • Also known as a chair rail border, use a level and pencil to make a faint line around the room at the desired height before you start.

Hang Around Window/Door

  • Overlap the horizontal and vertical strips at the corners.
  • Cut through both strips at a 45° angle at the corner.
  • Remove excess pieces.
  • After applying the border to the wall, smooth with a wallpaper smoothing tool to force out any air bubbles.
  • Wipe off excess glue with a clean, damp sponge.

Step 4

Hang Additional Strips

  • Measure and cut the next border strip at a point where you can easily match the pattern to the previous strip, allowing for an inch or so of overlap.
  • Cut through the overlap with a utility knife, using a 6-in putty knife as a guide.
  • Remove excess paper for a clean seam and wipe off any glue with a moist sponge.


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Hello. Are you going to paint the walls? If so I would suggest removing wallpaper border otherwise you’ll see the defining edge if you paint over it. If you’re going to ship lap or cover the wall with the paneling of course you could leave it existing.

I have always use the chemical wallpaper remover and the paper Tiger to remove my wallpaper.

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper border

alt=”” width=”43″ height=”43″ /> on Jun 10, 2020

The easiest thing would be to remove it – is there a reason you can’t?

This can help you to remove the border rather than to try and hide it.

I am unable to remove the border as it is framed by small pieces of wood as a rail. If we remove the rail, the sheet rock comes off too. I need something to cover the border between the wood rails.

alt=”Naomie Moore aka baileyanddaisey, Castaic CA” width=”43″ height=”43″ /> Naomie Moore aka baileyanddaisey, Castaic CA on Jun 10, 2020

Remove the wood rails, then the wallpaper. If you can post a photo, we can offer suggestions on how to properly remove the rails. I am assuming the rails are a shelf? If you just yank the shelves / rail off, yes, the sheet rock will come off with it, then that too, will need to be repaired.

alt=”Chloe Crabtree” width=”43″ height=”43″ /> Chloe Crabtree on Jun 10, 2020

I would recommend not just covering it, but removing it. The extra thickness of the border will make it show even if painted and primed!

I am unable to remove the border as it is framed by small pieces of wood as a rail. If we remove the rail, the sheet rock comes off too. I need something to cover the border between the wood rails.

alt=”Nan W.” width=”43″ height=”43″ /> Nan W. on Jun 10, 2020

Lana: this is a project. but you’ll be happier in the long run

I am unable to remove the border as it is framed by small pieces of wood as a rail. If we remove the rail, the sheet rock comes off too. I need something to cover the border between the wood rails.

alt=”Kathy Gunter Law” width=”43″ height=”43″ /> Kathy Gunter Law on Jun 10, 2020

The best thing to do is remove it. The steps aren’t difficult.

Peel as much as possible from the walls.

If you can’t get to the backing, you may need to score the paper with a tool. Paper Tiger is easy to find. Light pressure because you don’t want to damage the wall behind the paper.

Mix 50/50 fabric softener & warm water in a spray bottle or garden sprayer. I’ve read that vinegar is as effective but I have never used it.

Allow the mixture to sit for 5 – 10 minutes so that it saturates the adhesive on the paper backing.

Scrape with a plastic scraper.

Once it is all removed, wash the walls with warm soapy water (blue Dawn is my go-to) and a microfiber cloth.