How to Hang Vintage Wallpaper

In my opinion, it is really not that difficult to hang vintage wallpaper...it just takes a little more time and patience. It's definitely worth it all too, because when finished, you will be rewarded with a look like no other! 

Tools of the trade are wheat paste, a large sponge, a straight edge ruler, and a roller cutter. I highly recommend that you use wheat paste, just like they had back in the day, and if you cannot find it locally, I order mine online. After mixing with water, wheat paste can sometimes be lumpy. On this day, mine turned out extremely lumpy and after much mixing on my part I finally gave up, and used an old strainer to push the paste through. Voila! lumps removed. I then like to apply the wheat paste directly to the wall to be papered and allow it to dry for a couple of hours. This gives the paper a little something extra to grip to when applied to the wall, kind of like sizing. 

I also recommend that you use a straight edge and a roller cutter to trim the wallpaper.  If you try to use a box cutter-type knife on wet paper it will rag up and you will have a real mess. 

While the wall was drying, I  measured, matched the pattern and cut the pieces I would need to cover the wall. I left a little extra on both ends. Then I trimmed one selvedge edge from the paper. There are two schools of thought regarding the selvedge edge: some hangers like to trim both edges and some like to leave one edge and overlap the paper. I prefer the latter just because I think it gives the whole thing a more authentic look. 

I then use a large paint brush to apply the paste to the back of the paper and hang it immediately. As I apply it to the wall, I match the pattern at the center of the piece and, working from the middle out, use a damp sponge and a light hand to smooth the paper. Try not to stretch the wallpaper and don't worry about small bubbles, as they will dry out smooth.  Carefully wipe away any excess paste. Then proceed with the next strip, overlapping edges and smoothing lightly until your wall is finished...and that is my method of hanging vintage wallpaper.

This is the finished project. I am really proud of my bathroom re-do!


  1. Have you ever tried to paper on a wall that's been textured? If so do you sand it first, or just hang it?

    1. Keeping in mind that most wallpapers magnify imperfections in the wall surface, rather than hide, I would definitely sand the walls first. Good luck!

  2. I will be putting my wallpaper up on new drywall. Prior to hanging it, should the drywall be primed? painted? Thanks!

  3. Yes, prime the drywall and after it dries I would recommend applying a thin coat of wheat paste. Let it dry before hanging your wallpaper.