Wallpaper Tools

Make wallpaper application easy by using a few simple tools

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Wallpapering a room can completely change its appearance. Fortunately, the tools you'll need to apply wallpaper are relatively inexpensive, and you may even have a number of them already on hand. Even better, each one is easy to use, ensuring that with a little time and patience, you can achieve high-quality results.

Some tools are used to prepare the wall for application while others are used to prepare the paper itself. You'll finish the job with tools designed to remove wrinkles and bubbles and give wallpaper a smooth, nearly seamless finish.

Keep the following questions in mind as you shop for the accessories you'll need to complete your wallpapering project:

  • What tools are needed to apply wallpaper?
  • What tools are required for preparing the wall?
  • What should you use to prep wallpaper prior to application?
  • What tools will help you smooth, cut and finish your task?
  • What special features are available to help with the project?

Preparation, Application and Finishing Tools

There are several tools that will come in handy when you are applying wallpaper that you probably won't need to go out and purchase. Tape measures, levels, pencils and utility knives most likely already have a home in your toolbox.

The tools you may not have, and will need to purchase separately, are generally affordable and easy to use. Always make sure you prepare the wall surface for the paper beforehand, and make sure the sheets line up in straight lines. It's equally important to make sure paper has time to set up properly before being applied and that wrinkles and bubbles are smoothed out immediately.

There are a number of different tools that will help with these tasks. Take things slowly if this is your first time putting up wallpaper, as it can be somewhat tricky. Once you're underway, however, you'll most likely find that care and patience are all that's necessary to give your walls a flawless new appearance.

Measuring and Surface Preparation Tools: Prior to getting started with laying the groundwork for your wallpaper, you'll probably need to prime the wall. Use a putty knife and joint compound to fill in any cracks and holes, and sand down rough spots to make sure you're working with a smooth, clean surface. Use a primer that is oil or alcohol based to ensure the wall is properly sealed.

A level will also come in handy, allowing you to mark straight, even lines on the wall that can be used as a guide for hanging wallpaper sheets accurately. Use a tape measure to find a wall's center point, determine where cuts need to be made and how to best line up the pattern between sheets

  • Both levels and rulers can be used as a straightedge
  • Use a pencil to mark lines with your level for accurate results
  • Mark walls lightly to prevent pencil lines from showing through

Wallpaper Preparation Tools: Once the wall is smoothed, primed and ready to go, you'll need to prepare the wallpaper for application. Some wallpaper is prepasted, meaning that you won't need to use all of the tools discussed in this section. You will, however, need to use a wallpaper tray, which holds water for wetting prepasted strips.

A wallpaper table provides a flat, even working surface, making it ideal for applying adhesive and "booking," the process of folding paper over and allowing it to relax and expand before application. If paper is not given time to set up properly, it may expand or shrink after it has been applied and cause seams to show. In addition to providing workspace, wallpaper tables are designed to withstand nicks and cuts and may be lightweight for easy maneuverability.

Wallpaper should be applied from the top down, so make sure you have a stepladder handy to make it easier to work at the top of your wall. Leave about 4" of extra paper when making your cuts so you have leeway to line up the pattern properly while still covering the entire wall.

  • Use wallpaper scissors to trim sheets of wallpaper prior to wetting or pasting
  • Paste brushes can be used to apply adhesive to small sections of wallpaper
  • Use paint rollers to apply adhesive to larger sheets
  • You may want to rent a wallpaper table if you do not plan to do a lot of wallpapering, but a standard plastic 6 ft. table can suffice.

Finishing Tools: After you've applied the paper, there are a number of tools that will help you achieve a smooth, professional finish. Smoothing brushes, which are available with various nap lengths, are used to smooth out bubbles and wrinkles while seam rollers are used to press down the seams where strips of wallpaper meet.

Avoid rolling over seams repeatedly, however, as you may cause too much adhesive to squirt out, weakening the seal and creating extra cleanup work. Once sheets are up, you'll need to cut a couple of inches of excess paper from the top and bottom of the wall, a task that can be accomplished with the use of a wide broad knife, or trimming tool, and a utility knife or razor blade.

Hold paper in place with the broad knife, and slice through it with the utility knife. Use sponges to wipe up any excess adhesive that may have leaked out around the edges and seams during the smoothing process.

  • Smoothing knives are ideal for working in corners
  • Start in the center and work outward when smoothing wrinkles and bubbles
  • Short-bristled smoothing brushes are ideal for use on vinyl wallpaper
  • Long-bristled brushes are best for more fragile wallpapers, like flocks
  • Smoothing brushes may also be made of flexible plastic
  • Utility knives with breakaway blades are useful, since cutting wallpaper can easily dull blades
  • Clean up excess adhesive quickly before it dries and becomes difficult to remove

Task Tool Purpose


  • Smoothing brush
  • Seam roller
  • Broad knife
  • Utility knife
  • Smoothes out air bubbles and wrinkles
  • Presses down seams where sheets meet
  • Holds wallpaper steady so it may be cut evenly
  • Cuts wallpaper at top and bottom of wall

Surface Preparation

  • Putty knife
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Primer
  • Applies joint compound to fill cracks and holes
  • Makes sure lines are straight
  • Helps determine where to make cuts
  • Gives a sealed base for your wallpaper

Wallpaper Preparation

  • Wallpaper tray
  • Wallpaper table
  • Scissors
  • Paste brush/paint roller
  • Holds water for wetting wallpaper
  • Provides a place for cutting and booking
  • Cuts down sheets to proper size
  • Applies paste to the back of wallpaper


Laser Level: While conventional levels and plumb bobs work just fine for laying out vertical lines, they still require you to use a marking tool, such as a pencil, directly on the wall. Laser levels do away with this necessity, creating sharp, precise lines that won't leave a permanent mark on a wall's surface.

Wallpaper Tool Kits: You may be able to find a toolkit specially designed for wallpaper application. These kits include helpful items such as scissors, a tape measure, a bucket, sponge, spring clamp, straight edge, step ladder and more.

Smoothing/Painting Tool: This multipurpose tool can be used as a paint shield, a straight edge and smoothing tool for heavier wall coverings, giving you extra versatility.

Table Features: If you elect to purchase a wallpaper table, look for one that is lightweight and durable and has a carrying handle, hooks to hold a straight edge and folds in half for easier storage.