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How To Wallpaper The Ceiling (The Easy Way)

How To Wallpaper The Ceiling (the easy way) | Step-by-step instructions for how to wallpaper the ceiling (the easy way!) that will simplify the process and enhance your room.
How To Wallpaper The Ceiling (the easy way)

Wallpaper implies by its name that it is only meant to be applied to walls and, of course, that is where we usually see it. However, there are embossed and ‘tin look’ wallpapers available that are paint-able and that provide a nice textural interest on the ceiling.

Installation is the challenge! Years ago, when my children were young, my son wrote an essay for his English class entitled,”When your Mother starts wallpapering the ceiling, run away from home.” I have learned a few tricks since then. The most important one being, apply the paste to the ceiling directly. In fact, this is now, how I hang all wall papers. There is no messy water tray, the paper goes on smoothly, and matching patterns is easier. So don’t be daunted!

If you’re afraid that you won’t be able to take down the wallpaper later, click here to read our post on installing wallpaper so that it can be removed.

Click Next to learn how to wallpaper the ceiling (the easy way).

What You Will Need

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Paint and/or glaze (optional)



Prepare the Ceiling

The wallpaper adds texture to the ceiling | How To Wallpaper The Ceiling (The Easy Way)
The wallpaper adds texture to the ceiling

1. Remove ceiling fixtures

2. Wash the ceiling with TSP* to remove dust and grime.

3. Most ceilings are painted with a flat paint. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure good wallpaper adhesion by applying a primer* to the ceiling using the paint roller and an extension pole. Let dry recommended time.

Apply The Wallpaper

The wallpapered ceiling finishes the room perfectly | How to Wallpaper The Ceiling (the easy way)
The wallpapered ceiling finishes the room perfectly

1. Measure the length of the room. Cut wall paper this length plus 4”. If the wallpaper has a repeating pattern, make sure to match the pattern when measuring (you will likely need a longer length of paper).

2. Apply adhesive to the ceiling the width of the paper and its entire length. Use a roller with the extension pole for this.

3. Starting in one corner smooth the paper onto the ceiling with the plastic smoothing tool, moving along its length. It is helpful to have a second person hold up the end as you work.

4. After the paper is smooth and straight, place the straight edge against the ceiling at the wall and carefully cut off the excess with the utility knife.

5. Gently roll the edges with the seam roller to make sure they are adhering.

6. Now wipe the edges with a damp sponge to remove any excess glue.

7. Continue in this manner, applying glue to the ceiling, aligning the pattern, smoothing, trimming, sealing edges, and sponging until the ceiling is covered.

8. When the adhesive is dry, and if the paper is a paintable one, paint the ceiling in the color of your choice.

9. If desired, when the paint is dry, wipe a thin coat of metallic glaze onto the ceiling paper using a wad of cheesecloth.

10. Replace fixtures, survey your handiwork and feel proud!

Note: In the picture above, I painted a 1 foot wide strip around the entire room. Then I painted 1 inch wide half round molding and installed it 1 foot from the wall around the perimeter of the room. (I painted the molding prior to nailing it up, so the edges would be very crisp). The adhesive and paper are then applied inside the rectangle as described above.

Have comments or questions about How to Wallpaper the Ceiling?  Tell us in the section below.


This post was originally published on March 12, 2015 but was updated with new content on April 17, 2020.

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  1. Pat Turner says:

    My ceiling has wallpaper on it but it has turned yellow at the seams. How can I tell if this ceiling can be painted? I looks like vinyl but I am not sure.

    1. Hello Pat,
      As a rule of thumb, I never paint over wallpaper. Vinyl wall paper is usually designed to be easy to remove. Just be sure to wash all the glue off of the ceiling surface before you paint. Yes, that is a lot of work.
      If the seams are well adhered then it is possible to paint over the paper at the risk that at some future date the paper will start to deteriorate. Once it is painted it is virtually impossible to remove.
      Is your paper embossed with a raised pattern? Then it could be one of those papers designed to be painted. Is it white now? I suspect that since the edges are yellowing that this is what you have and if so I would paint it. I suggest that you have a look in Home Depot at their paintable papers to see whether your ceiling is similar.

      1. Pat Turner says:

        Thanks for answering my request. My paper is embossed with a raised pattern. It is an off white. I will take your advice and check out Home Depot to see if I can find something similar.

  2. Do you have to use the primer if you painted the ceiling recently?

    1. Hello Penney, I would use primer if the ceiling is painted with a flat paint. If it is a satin finish, primer would not be necessary.

      1. I have painted over vinyl embossed wall paper on my bathroom ceiling. No problems at all. Don’t apply too much on roller. You don’t want to saturate the paper and pull it down. Give it a try before you pull it down. Mines been up 5 years now. No issues

        1. Thank you Rhonda for sharing your experience. The main reason I don’t like to paint over wallpaper is the difficulty it presents if I ever want to remove it.

  3. Chandrashekar says:

    I want to wall paper my ceiling and the living room

    1. Good luck with it. I hope you enjoy the results.