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