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How to apply wallpaper borders to a wall

Lick and Kelly Hoppen modern wallpaper border designs

WordsMegan Lambert


The writing is on the wall: wallpaper borders are back. But, if you're worried about tackling a wallpaper border, it might give you some much-needed confidence to know that they were once created to make the task of hanging wallpaper that little bit simpler! So if you’re looking to add some stylish detailing to your home, then follow this step-by-step guide for failsafe DIYing. 

What tools do I need to apply a wallpaper border?

  • Wallpaper paste
  • A wallpaper brush or roller
  • Sponge, cloth, or smoothing brush
  • Measuring tape 
  • Pencil 
  • Stanley knife

How do I apply a wallpaper border?

To make you feel more at ease, we spoke to Alex Glover, Lick's Specialist Decorator and Colour Consultant, about his top tips for how to apply a wallpaper border.

Step 1: Prep your walls 

First thing’s first, you’ll need to prep your walls (even just the area you’re bordering) the same way you would prep a room for wallpapering

Step 2: Visualise your wallpaper border 

There’s a lot more creative license when it comes to wallpaper borders as you can use them just about anywhere. Alex recommends you “think about how it will look visually as well as how it will work mathematically. Think about the design and what areas of your room your want to accentuate”.

Step 3: Measure your wallpaper border 

Now for the (slightly) maths-y bit. Once you’ve decided the areas that you will be pasting your wallpaper border, measure up. Mark in pencil along your wallpaper border and cut the strips accordingly, leaving a few centimeters on either side for error. 

Step 4: Get pasting 

The choice is yours, but according to specialist decorator Alex Glover, “I'd avoid applying the paste directly to the back of wallpaper borders, as it can get quite messy if you use too much and makes transferring the wallpaper to the wall that bit more difficult”. Instead, he recommends applying one coat of paste to the wall and letting it dry (slightly) before you apply your wallpaper border.

Step 5: Smooth down and trim off any edges 

Get your cloth and trusty Stanley knife and smooth down any bumps or bubbles, taking care not to create creases. Trim off any excess borders or rough edges for a clean and flawless finish. 

From accentuating period detailing in a centuries-old home to adding character in a more modern space, wallpaper borders are a great decor project to tackle for the first-timer. Want to try your hand at something a bit more intermediate? Take a look at our guide on how to hang wallpaper.