Decorating + Accessories
All About Wallpaper
If your room feels a little lackluster, wallpaper could be just the thing to give it some punch. Wallpaper is enjoying a revival, thanks to modern patterns and easier application with pre-pasted or peel-and-stick papers (perfect for renters!). This is not your grandma’s wallpaper—there’s a wealth of options, from metallics to dramatic, large-scale patterns to nature-inspired textures to transform your rooms. Wallpaper is also great for camouflaging imperfect walls or creating an accent wall that’s like a work of art.
But if wallpaper seems a little intimidating, we’re here to break it down for you and make it easier to choose and use.
TYPES OF WALLPAPER
Removable wallpapers have a peel-and-stick backing with a light-tack adhesive, so they’re easy to install and remove, and are repositionable if you don’t get it right on the first try. They won’t leave behind adhesive residue, so they’re usually fine for rental apartments.
Pre-pasted wallpapers come with adhesive already applied on the back, saving a step—just soak panels in water for 15 seconds to activate the glue. These are hung like a traditional wallpaper and similarly need to be removed with wallpaper stripper and a scraper.
Traditional wallpapers will need wallpaper paste applied to the back.
Wallpaper murals are designed to cover one wall or part of a wall, and look like a scene or artwork, rather than an overall pattern. They come in multiple panels, but once installed, look like a single image. They’re a great way to make an impact without having to paper a whole room.
Should I hire a pro?
Removable, peel-and-stick wallpapers are a fairly easy DIY project. The keys to success: Make sure you hang the paper straight (use a level or plumb line) and map out where you’ll start and end, so any smaller end piece is in a less-noticeable area.
For traditional (not removable) wallpapers, it’s a good idea to hire an installer, unless you have experience hanging wallpaper. However, if you’re a confident DIY-er, it’s doable as a two-person job—having a helper really makes a difference. You can find instructions on our product pages and the tools you’ll need at a paint or hardware store.
For specialty papers, such as mylar, cork and mica papers, professional installation is recommended.
How much wallpaper will I need?
To calculate the square footage of your walls, you’ll just need to do some basic math:
1. Total the width (in feet) of each wall, then multiply that number by the ceiling height (in feet); round up to make it simpler to calculate. Don’t worry about subtracting for doors + windows; it’s better to allow a little extra for matching patterns, trimming, and mistakes.
For example: A 12’ x 16’ room with 8’ ceilings would be calculated like this:
12 + 12 + 16 + 16 = 56’.
56’ wide x 8’ high = 448 total square feet you’ll need to cover.
(If you’re only papering one wall, you’d just multiply that wall’s width—say, 12’—by the ceiling height—8’ = 96 square feet.)
2. Check the square footage per roll of the wallpaper you want to use, which will be listed under “Details + Dimensions” on our product pages.
3. Divide the total square footage of your room’s walls by the square footage of one roll of wallpaper.
For example: One roll of many of our papers measures 24 square feet. Using the sample room above, 448 ÷ 24 = 18.66. It’s always best to round up, so you would order 19 rolls of wallpaper.
Can I wallpaper any room?
For rooms with a lot of moisture, like bathrooms, good ventilation is necessary and a vinyl paper is recommended. For playrooms, kitchens or high-traffic areas, washable or scrubbable wallpapers are best. If a room has uneven, rough walls or cracks, it’s not a good candidate for wallpaper. And rooms with lots of doors and windows can be harder to paper and may break up the pattern too much.
Great rooms to wallpaper are often bedrooms, powder rooms, dining rooms, foyers and hallways.
TIPS FOR CHOOSING WALLPAPER
- Do you want your wallpaper to be a dramatic focal point, a subtle backdrop or something in between? Bold or deep colors, large patterns or strong contrasts will make your wallpaper stand out, so you may want to reserve it for an accent wall or smaller space such as a powder room or foyer. More tonal patterns, subtle colors and small, allover patterns will add interest, but serve more as background, so they work well for bedrooms, living rooms and larger rooms. Solid-color textures; materials like grasscloth, cork or mica; or papers that mimic natural materials such as marble add depth without dominating a room.
- Get a sense of scale: Be sure to look at pictures of the wallpaper in a room (look on websites + Instagram), so you can judge its scale + impact. If possible, always order a sample first and see how it looks in your space, and how it’s affected by light, both natural and artificial.
- Vertical stripes help ceilings feel taller. If you live in an old building with crooked walls or sloping floors, however, stripes will call attention to those issues. In a room with angled dormers or imperfect walls, a smaller scale or “busy” overall pattern will help camouflage problems.
- Think beyond the wall: Wallpaper is also a great way to add interest to the back of bookshelves, the inside of closets, on a backsplash (though not recommended above a sink or stove), or even a ceiling.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Wallpaper costs more than paint, but it will often last longer and not show marks and scuffs as much.
- When hanging traditional wallpaper, priming walls with a wallpaper primer first will help it adhere better and make it easier to remove.
- Metallic papers can sometimes scratch, so they’re not ideal for kids’ rooms.