How To Wallpaper High Ceilings? (Step-by-Step Guide)

Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray

house with high ceiling

If the last couple of years indicates the popularity of wallpapering ceilings to create a bold look, I think this trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. With all the other design choices you have to choose from, wallpapering high ceilings is the one that certainly stands out. I was curious to see how you can wallpaper high ceilings.

To wallpaper a high ceiling yourself, you need to rent scaffolding, and you need a helping hand. Measuring the ceiling will help you cut the wallpaper to the correct size. Putting the right amount of paste on the ceiling with a roller and sticking the wallpaper flush to the ceiling is the easiest.

I have seen how stunning a room can be with the right wall color and decorative pieces, but wallpapering a ceiling takes it to another level. The bold statement wallpaper with light neutral-colored walls draws the eye. It’s not easy, though, and I wanted to share my experience and the other information I found about how to wallpaper high ceilings. 

Factors To Consider Before Wallpapering A High Ceiling

When I decided to wallpaper my high ceilings, there were a few things I needed to consider before starting the actual wallpapering.

Is Your Ceiling Conducive To Wallpapering?

Before you wallpaper your ceilings, you need to ensure your ceiling will support wallpaper. You might want to make a solid and bold statement by wallpapering your high ceiling, or you might want to cover up imperfections in the ceiling. Remember that the ceiling needs to be structurally sound, smooth, and clean to wallpaper a ceiling.


If your home is old and the walls and ceilings tend to crack, I wouldn’t advise wallpapering it. As the new cracks develop, it will cause the wallpaper also to crack, warp and eventually, it will start to peel off. Popcorn ceilings are another prime example of a ceiling that you can’t wallpaper until the popcorn ceiling is safely removed.

Choosing The Right Wallpaper Type To Suit Your Needs

wallpaper high ceiling

When choosing the wallpaper for your ceiling, you need to consider ease of application as high ceilings are hard enough to navigate safely, so having an easy-to-apply wallpaper will be an advantage. Remember that the easy-to-apply wallpaper might not last as long as the traditional wallpaper. 

There are three types of wallpaper available: 

  • The traditional glue and wallpaper: This wallpaper requires wallpaper and wallpaper paste or glue. You apply the glue to a clean, dry, smooth ceiling first, then stick the wallpaper to the adhesive. 
  • The pre-glued wallpaper: This type of wallpaper is easier to install but can be messy. You need to activate the wallpaper adhesive on the back of the wallpaper with water before applying it to the ceiling.
  • The peel and stick wallpaper: This type of wallpaper is the easiest to work with as you peel off the back and put the sticky side of the wallpaper to the ceiling. The drawback to this type of wallpaper is that it might not last as long as the traditional wallpaper.

The Pattern And Color You Pick Is Crucial

wallpaper pattern

When you pick the color and pattern of the ceiling, it’s important to remember that it will be on the ceiling for a while. It is especially true for children’s rooms; as they grow older, their tastes will change, so here are a few suggestions to simplify your wallpaper choice:

  • Try to stick with a pattern and color that no one will get tired of,
  • Wallpaper that has more than one color will fit in easier if you decide to change the theme or décor in the room,
  • If it’s you’re first time wallpapering a ceiling; you can stick with smaller patterns as they easily hide mishaps,
  • Dark colors give a cozy feel and will help make a room look smaller and more inviting,
  • Light or pastel colors will make a room feel brighter and bigger and work better for children’s rooms or bathrooms.

You Need To Properly Prep Your Ceiling Before Starting

Prepping your ceiling before you start wallpapering can greatly impact the outcome, how easily the wallpaper applies and how long the wallpaper will last. Here are some tips you need to look at before you begin to wallpaper your ceiling:

  • Lay down plastic on the floor, so you don’t get wallpaper paste everywhere, remove the furniture or cover them in plastic.
  • If you have any imperfections or cracks in the ceiling, you need to repair them with spackle or joint compound, wait until it’s dry, and sand it down with fine-grit sandpaper.
  • Disconnect the electricity and remove any light fixtures and air vents.
  • Clean the ceiling with a long duster or use a shop vacuum with a brush attachment to remove all dust. Go over the ceiling with a rag or cloth to ensure a dust-free surface.
  • Lastly, you want to prime your ceiling with a specialty primer made for wallpaper application. It needs to dry for at least 48 hours. It helps protect your ceiling from damage when you choose to remove the wallpaper.

Planning Is Key To Successfully Wallpapering Your High Ceiling

It’s always best to plan when you tackle any DIY job. Remember, there can be problems with even the best-laid plans, but you can easily get back on track with proper planning. One of the hardest parts of wallpapering any surface is to keep the patterns aligned and the sections straight.

Solving The Height Problem

Wallpapering is hard as it is; wallpapering a high ceiling can be even harder. You will need specialized equipment and a helper to get the job done. You can rent scaffolding from hardware stores, home improvement stores, or stores like Home Depot, depending on how high the ceilings are.  

You will need to rent the scaffolding for the prep work and the wallpapering because the height will be a factor regardless of the work you’re doing.

What You Will Need To Hang The Wallpaper

hang wallpaper

When you have done all the proper prep work, it’s time to get to work. Here is a list of the equipment you will need:

  • Ensure that you have enough wallpaper; you should measure the size of your ceiling before you buy; you don’t want to be run out before you are done.
  • Hired scaffolding if you haven’t done so yet, it’s an easy way to get that high and safer than using a ladder,
  • A spirit level that has a straight edge,
  • A bucket to mix the wallpaper paste or adhesive in, or if you are using the pre-glued water-activated wallpaper, it will be for the water,
  • The wallpaper paste you will use,
  • Wallpaper scissors,
  • A measuring tape and pencil for marking,
  • Pasting roller or brush and a tray to pour the paste in,
  • A Stanley knife to help cut around corners and light fixture spaces,
  • Wallpaper smoother or brush to ensure the wallpaper sticks to the ceiling,
  • A damp, clean cloth to wipe off any excess paste or spills,
  • A seam roller to ensure the seams are smooth and level.
  • Delicate painter’s tape (not regular)

How To Wallpaper High Ceilings

Depending on the room’s shape, you can start in the middle; that way, if you have a skew seam at the end of the wall, you can cover it up with trim if needed. If you have an oddly shaped room and thus ceiling, start with the longest section first and work from there. Otherwise, start from the left or right side.

It’s important to wallpaper the ceiling lengthwise and away from the windows, as it might create unsightly shadows that will ruin the ceiling look. Here are the steps I followed to wallpaper a high ceiling:

Step 1 

You need to mark out the first strip of wallpaper on the ceiling to get it as straight as possible, as it will determine how straight the rest of the sections will be. You can easily use a chalk line to do this, as it will be easier when working on a high ceiling.

Now measure the ceiling to figure out the length the wallpaper needs to be. Add 5cm at the ends and the side that meets the wall for trimming. 

Step 2

Now lay the first two stips of wallpaper side by side on the floor. Line the second piece up with the first piece and cut off the end, so the patterns line up. Now cut them the same length, so you have two strips that are the same length, and so the patterns match up. 

Repeat this until there are enough strips of the same size and length, with patterns matching up to cover the entire ceiling. To keep track, use a pencil and number the back of each strip so it’s hung in the right sequence. That way, you won’t get confused and accidentally have the wrong placement of the strips.

Step 3

Using delicate painter’s tape, loosely tape off the section where the first strip of wallpaper should go, leaving a piece of tape dangling (it will help keep the wallpaper in place as you go). Don’t use the normal painter’s tape as it might remove the design on the wallpaper; delicate painter’s tape will work best for this.

Step 4

Next, following the mixing instructions on the back of the wallpaper paste container, mix the paste to the desired consistency; it needs to be just right; if the consistency is too thin, it will run down the sides and won’t stick properly, but if it’s too thick, you will have lumps.

Step 5

Now take the roller and put the paste on the ceiling where the first piece of wallpaper will go. Take the first strip of wallpaper, attach it to the ceiling and use the dangling part of the painter’s tape to keep it in place. Roll more paste on the ceiling, going in arm-length sections, and stick the wallpaper to the pasted ceiling.


Use a smoother to smooth out any flaws or bubbles as you go until the wallpaper is flush with the ceiling. Continue to do this until the entire section is on the ceiling. Don’t remove the tape yet; it must dry a bit, or the wallpaper will fall off. After smoothing it out, use a damp cloth to remove the excess paste from the seams. 

Remember to leave the extra flap of wallpaper dangling to the side while it dries, you will cut it off later, but it helps to have it in case your wall isn’t straight so you won’t have any gaps between the wall and the ceiling.

Step 6

Continue with the rest of the pieces as you did with the first, ensuring the patterns match up and the wallpaper is straight. You can remove the first few pieces of painter’s tape when you start on the next row but replace the tape, letting it overlap where the first and second sections meet (where the side seams line up).

Continue with the same process until the entire ceiling is finished. Once all the wallpaper strips are dry (the next day), you can remove the painter’s tape. 

Step 7

It’s important to check each section after putting wallpaper up for bubbles or flaws and add a bit of paste if the wallpaper doesn’t stick to the corners. After hanging the wallpaper, it’s crucial to leave it to dry overnight. 

There are several reasons for this: 

  • It’s easier to cut dry wallpaper as wet wallpaper tends to tear
  • You won’t risk the wallpaper falling down while trimming the overlap
  • Removing the painter’s tape once the wallpaper is dry will ensure it won’t peel
  • You can see if there are spots that didn’t stick

When To Rather Call In The Experts?

No one likes to admit defeat, but certain circumstances require you to call in someone to hang the wallpaper for you. Wallpapering a high ceiling on your own has a few dangers and can be challenging to do if you don’t have the right equipment, knowledge or you are afraid of heights. I would suggest not to try and hang wallpaper on your own if your ceilings are higher than 15 ft.


Hanging wallpaper on a high ceiling is not easy, but it can be done if you follow the proper steps and remember to plan the steps you will follow to have the best outcome. Having someone to help will make this project more manageable. Suppose you are scared of heights and have medical issues that will make staying at heights a problem, then it’s best to call a professional to install the wallpaper. 

Photo of author

Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.