wallpapering the guest room | pasted vs. unpasted

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, Decorating, Guest Room, home improvement, My House, Room Makeovers, Tutorials26 Comments

I have been looking at wallpaper patterns for a couple of rooms in our house for months, but I haven’t pulled the trigger on any of them for one main reason – almost all of the papers I liked came unpasted.  To me, “unpasted” might as well have read “you cannot install this on your own and will have to hire a professional.”  Unpasted seemed complicated and intimidating and, perhaps, easier to mess up.

Well, now that I have installed both pasted and unpasted paper, I can tell you that my assumptions were wrong.  Not only that but I now prefer unpasted.

I used prepasted wallpaper for the upstairs bathroom in our PA house.  It was THIS beautiful mural from Anthropologie.

The upside to prepasted is that you don’t have to go through the extra step of applying the paste.  The downside is that you don’t have any control over how much paste is on the paper and, in the case of that particular paper, it was a lot!  I mean a lot, a lot.  It was squeezing down the seams and running down the wall.  My wallpaper sponge would be saturated with just one wipe and I was using towels to sop up the excess that was running down the baseboard and onto the floor.  It was a mess.

Worth it, but a mess.

So, as we were preparing to hang the wallpaper in the guest room, I bought plastic dropcloths to protect the carpet and brought down towels and rags to deal with the inevitable mess.  Well, I don’t think we had one drip of wallpaper paste.  Since I could control the amount of glue, I applied a generous amount, but not so much that there would be an abundance of glue to squeeze out from under the paper and clean up.

My mom and I would cut the piece of paper to size, leaving about 2-4″ on the top and bottom to give us plenty of over-hang.  We laid the paper flat on a plastic folding table, rolled on the glue with a 6″ microfiber roller…

…and then booked the paper (folded it in on itself like a book) and let it sit for 3 minutes.  I learned that the amount of time you let the paper sit while booked depends on the paper, not the paste.  So, read the instructions for the paper and the glue.  The purpose of letting the paper sit is so the paste can “bloom”.  It actually expands a bit.  Booking the paper prevents the paste from drying out.

I didn’t apply quite enough wallpaper paste to the first piece, so we took it off the wall, applied more paste and booked it again.  That’s probably not ideal, but it worked!  I learned that I needed to apply a pretty generous amount of paste, so I could slide it around the wall better and it wouldn’t dry too quickly.  I also learned I really need to slop it on the edges, so they would lay nice and flat against the wall.

We hung the wallpaper in half the room the first night and joked that it might all be on the floor when we woke up, but it wasn’t.  The paste did its trick.

I think the key to hanging unpasted wallpaper, though, is having the right paste.  I used two different kinds and one was awesome and the other one was just as you’d imagine wallpaper paste to be!  I will share a comparison of the two in my next wallpapering post.

PS – The paper we’re hanging is Antigua Oak by Annie Selke.

wallpapering the guest room  | pasted vs. unpasted

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26 Comments on “wallpapering the guest room | pasted vs. unpasted”

  1. I have only worked with pre-pasted wallpaper, so it is interesting to hear about your experience.

    I particularly like the barbell holding the paper down. A much more fun way to use a barbell, in my opinion, than its real job. 🙂

  2. The wallpaper is just lovely and the room is going to look beautiful. How is your sore shoulder holding up with all that work? You are so lucky to have your mom helping.
    I am looking forward to see the finished room. Your talent and creativity is so impressive and inspirational. When this cold, dreary, wet Michigan weather permits, I am going to use your milk paint to redo my dining room set. I hope that you post more furniture painting in the future.

  3. Your guestroom will be beautiful! Thank you for the tips on using unpasted wallpaper. Your description and photos have made it seem less intimidating for sure! Can’t wait to see it all finished 🙂

  4. Unpasted is so much better, less messy, easier to control. I think the dripping you experienced is more due to the water from the soak aspect for prepasted. I used prepasted for a bunch of rooms, then tried unpasted, and will never go back.

  5. I have recently wallpapered two rooms in my house. I papered the ceilings and top of the walls in both of the rooms. One wallpaper was a traditional Sanderson which had to be pasted, the other was a modern Elle Cashman floral where you pasted the wall, and not the paper. This seems the most common type of wallpaper now. It’s called “Paste the Wall” paper. This process is even easier than pasting each individual sheet, as you just roller the paste onto the wall and then apply your cut lengths of paper. This means there is no handling of messy pasted sheets and no bookending needed. (The Elle Cashman paper even came pre-cut to the lengths I needed – so I didn’t even need a table to cut, measure and paste on!)

  6. I have used both and I prefer the pre-pasted strippable wallpaper. It is also much easier to remove when the time comes to replace it or paint the wall.

  7. Many years ago we used a paper that required the paste to go on the wall and I agree that is the easiest way to hang wallpaper.

  8. my husband and i pasted paper every time ( which was often in the 70-80s ) we used a wall paper brush
    and yes, = it was applied pretty liberally and then folded onto itself. Not hard at all, the cutting is still much trickier.

  9. Hi..Marian. Though it is tough enough to choose wallpaper for guestroom and I always get confuse but after reading your article I think I have generated some idea. Thank you for sharing.

  10. While wallpaper is the subject, I must mention Bedford Springs Hotel in Bedford PA. The hotel is a fantastic renovation of an early 19th- century masterpiece. All the decor is wonderful especially the many beautiful wallpaper patterns. You and your mom could have a lovely getaway there.

  11. Hi Marian, I remember a friend teaching me to wall paper in the 80s. Every house I moved into I used those learned skills to do at least one focal wall in the bedroom and the bathroom. She taught me to use a thick nap paint roller to wet the prepasted paper, less messy than a wet sponge and you got great coverage to the edges…

  12. The most interesting wallpaper I have used is beadboard wallpaper, in which paste is put on the wall, apply the wallpaper, and after completion paint it. The paper is three dimensional and looks real. It is suitable for places that are not going to get a lot of abuse. After the paint cures the wallpaper is harder. I have used it below a chair rail in my dining room and in a room that fairly dark and covered two thirds of the wall below a chair rail we had installed. It was easy to install. Here is a link:
    https://www.homedepot.ca/product/martha-stewart-living-beadboard-white-paintable-wallpaper/1000667069

  13. We have always pasted our wallpaper irregardless if it’s prepasted or not! Also used bead board wallpaper in our bathroom and kitchen lower walls and the kitchen backsplash…the great thing is you can’t tell it’s not bead board and when you’re tired of the color..just paint over it!

  14. Hi Marian,

    I remember my grandmother coming to help me with my first wallpaper attempt. It was not the pre-pasted kind. When Gran got there I asked ‘How do we do this’? She said, “well honey, we make our own paste”! It was flour and water, using a whisk, not too high heat on the stove, let it cool and Viola!
    I bet that paper is still on those walls:) But it was the memory of us working together and laughing the entire day that I truly treasure.
    Love your blog and style.

    Susan

  15. My mother and I did quite a bit of wallpapering in the 80s, and we developed a good routine. We mixed our paste to , what we thought, was a perfect consistency for sliding, butting, etc. We also learned, of rather were taught, to mske sure the ceiling paint went down a bit onto the wall below it. The reason being that it’s important to keep the visual line and pattern level at the ceiling, rather than following the actual physical line of the wall. The eye will notice the pattern, not the hiccups in the physical ceiling/wall joint. And, i know you mentioned the tip for having wall paint that matches the paper to avoid peek throughs. The room looks quite nice.

  16. I really love the look of wallpapered rooms, but I’ve only done one in my house and it was a pre-pasted kind. The next time I get the itch to paper something, I’ll be sure to try out the unpasted kind. It sounds like, from reading your post and the comments, that that’s the way to go!

    Your wallpaper choice is beautiful!

  17. Hi Marian! This was very informative. I’ve only ever used unpasted wallpaper and have always used a roller and a good quality wallpaper paste. That makes a huge difference. We’ve always folded and booked it like you said. I’ve never used prepasted so have no experience to speak from on that. I just know we’ve always had great results with the nonpasted and it’s always removed easily as well. Good luck with the papering!

  18. I first wallpapered my bedroom when I was a teenager… I’m 70 now so you can imagine… it was a flower bower and I loved it. Fast forward to now and I am still loving the botanicals and the awesome sense of space that wallpaper gives to a room. Your room is beautiful. Good job! What will you do with the seam where the two sides come together over the door?

    1. The pattern didn’t line up, but it ended up looking great. I don’t think anyone will be laying in bed at night staring at the seam. 🙂

  19. I love your selection of wallpaper. Your home is turning into such a beautiful treasure. However, I didn’t see where you told your readers that you ‘sized’ your walls first with wallpaper sizing. This is a very easy and important step. It’s like painting the walls with a clear paint. Why size a wall before papering? Well, have you ever had to take paper down and it only comes down in tiny pieces, or you have to spend hours steaming it? Well, if you size your walls first and let that dry, when you put on the paper, the paper will go on easier and into place. When you want to remove the paper, the top layer should just pull off then you just spay warm water on the backing that is still on the wall from the wallpaper and it will pull off in sheets just like you put it up. Wipe down the walls then paint or repaper. It’s a must.

  20. I’m curious to know if you will be installing crown molding. I think it always gives the papered wall a nice finished stop. Lovely the way it is, though.

  21. I papered a bathroom not long ago and I pasted the wall. That had to be the easiest way ever!!! I also used two different brands of paste and one was much better.

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