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How to install wallpaper on a ceiling

Written by David | January 14, 2021

Wallpaper is not just for walls!

Disclaimer- this is not something to tackle on your own!! Installing wallpaper on a ceiling will take two people. This blog details how we installed a wallpaper that is designed for a paste the wall application.

finished dining room wallpaper ceiling

Finished dining room wallpaper ceiling

Now on to the fun- Installing wallpaper really does make a huge difference in the look and feel of your home.  Accent walls are more of what we have been installing over the past year or so.

Here are a few things you need to keep in mind before starting:

  • Are you sure you want this? Wallpaper is not for everyone.
  • Know your budget. Wallpaper itself can be expensive, but the cost to install is typically just as expensive or more expensive than the wallpaper itself.
  • Think of how you want it to look in terms of layout- left to right, right to left, north to south, etc. The width of the ceiling and room layout can provide a few different options compared to a typical wall installation
  • Lighting- are you changing out any lights? If so make sure the installer knows. Better yet just take them down and your new light fixtures can be installed right away without the worry about how large the old light fixture mounts were. (If you have a light with a round mounting bracket and you go to a square or a rectangle- you may end up seeing white walls if this is not thought out ahead of time)

Prepare the ceiling for wallpaper

Each paper has their own instructions. These instructions will typically say something about the surface, what type of primer the walls need and the type of adhesive they say to use.

For this wallpaper we used Gardz wall sealer for the primer.  As we were installing to separate areas, Daniel started in the dining room to apply primer so it could dry.

After several hours (4) he went back to the ceiling and applied a coat of wallpaper adhesive to the ceiling.  This will the help adhesion between the surface and the wallpaper itself.

applying wallpaper glue - wallpaper ceiling

Glue has been applied and allowed to dry before installation

Allow this to dry overnight

Getting ready to install the wallpaper

Proper preparation prevents poor performance. That is what my sons Scoutmaster (Hello DOUG HORTON!!) used to tell the boys before starting any project. It is no different with starting a wallpaper project.

Inspect your wallpaper. We always unroll/reroll each roll of wallpaper.  Just look to see there are no defects before you start to install. Better to know before you begin hanging the wallcovering than to find out while you’re on a ladder on the 3rd piece there is a defect and your not going to have enough wallpaper to finish!

Where will you start? you can pick the middle and go to the edge, you can start on the left or the right. But plan it out!! We will do this portion when we estimate the wallpaper. Sometimes you can use less wallcovering due to the room layout and the pattern on the wallpaper by going a vertical vs horizontal type install.

Measure the wallpaper.  How wide is it? Take that measurement to the ceiling and make a mark. If the paper is 27 inches, mark the ceiling at 26 1/2, this allows for extra room in case the wall/ceiling lines are crooked- not straight or plumb.

measuring for wallpaper

Daniel is measuring the width for the 1st piece of wallpaper we are installing

Now make another mark at 26 1/2 about 3 feet away. This is so you can make yourself a guideline.

wallpaper measuring - wallpaper for ceiling

After marking two locations of the width of the paper- draw a line as a guide to where the edge of the wallpaper will be installed too

Lets hang some paper!!

Quick review:

  • You have enough wallpaper
  • You have primed the walls for wallpaper
  • You have the right wallpaper adhesive
  • All of your tools are ready to be used (see our blog about wallpaper tools here)
  • The wallpaper has been inspected and there are no defects
  • There is a ladder for you and your helper!

This actually goes pretty fast- partially because this wallpaper we demonstrate is a type where you paste the wall.  No glue on the wallpaper makes is much easier and cleaner to install.

Apply the wallpaper adhesive to the area you are installing the first piece – 27-30 inches wide in our case.  Then apply with a brush on the edges.

Get the 2 ladders in position so one person can hold the roll of wallpaper while the 2nd person makes sure it is flat, on the line, no bubbles etc. Once you get the first portion of the wallpaper placed, all you have to do is roll it out and smooth it to the surface to get the glue on the paper – the glue and suction will do the rest.

applying wallpaper to ceiling

You can see the line we use as a guide and rolling out the 1st piece

I didn’t take other pics as I went because we did a time lapse video of two people installing the wallpaper on the ceiling.

Finishing up your ceiling wallpaper install

Now that you have all the paper installed, stand back and look!!  Aside from wiping your brow of sweat, look for shiny spots – that will be adhesive that got on the wallpaper that you will need to wash off. Use clean warm water and sea sponge, it works the best!

ceiling wallpaper - residential wallpaper installation - accent wallpaper

Here is a wallpaper on a ceiling

If you have any questions on installing wallpaper on a ceiling (or you just want someone else to do it)  let us know how we can help you love the space you’re in!

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