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Wallpapering Stair Risers Tutorial/Tips

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

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As promised, I want to give you some pointers on how to wallpaper stair risers.  You may read my post about it and see more photos here.  The hardest thing about the process is it's awkward, and you have to be careful not to fall.


1.   Look online (especially Pinterest) and get an idea of what pattern and color(s) of wallpaper you want to use.

2.   You will need to take a paint swatch with you to look at wallpaper samples so you can make sure the wallpaper will look good in your stairwell. You can either closely match colors, or maybe use complimentary colors.

3.   Have a nice flat surface for applying wallpaper paste.  I used a zinc top work table, but I've also used our glass top dining table.  Taping waxed paper with low tack tape to a wooden table works well, too.

4.   Remember that wallpaper is sold by the double roll, but priced per single roll.  You will have plenty of paper for this project with tons of leftovers for other projects if you use three or four different wallpapers.  If you choose only one pattern, pay close attention to the wallpaper's repeat.  If it is a large one, order two double rolls.

5.  If ordering multiple rolls of the same pattern, make sure they're from the same lot (have the same lot number).

Tools You'll Need:

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1.   Wallpaper
2.   Glue suitable for your wallpaper if it isn't pre-pasted.  Mine wasn't, and I used a universal border paste.  I liked the foam roller on it.  It was very helpful!
3.   Sharp scissors
4.   Exacto knife
5.   Seam roller
6.   Stiff wallpaper brush
7.   Small stiff brush for corners

I was lucky with the first three steps because I used two strips of wallpaper without any cutting.  Two strips fit perfectly!  I was not so lucky with the rest of the steps.  I used two rolls plus about another 1 1/2".  This caused me to waste a lot of wallpaper!

Papering the Risers

Very important:  Before you begin, vacuum and mop your stairs.  Clean your risers with a non oil based soap, like a dishwashing liquid. 

1.   Cut a strip of paper about three inches longer than your riser.  
2.   Apply paste making sure you apply plenty to the edges.
3.   Start on the left and place paper perfectly against the wall.
4.   Use brush to remove air bubbles and cut paper using exacto knife.  It is important to replace blades often during the process because when the blade dulls, it will tear your paper!
5.   If you have to match wallpaper, carefully align pattern and cut paper about three inches longer than riser.  
6.   Make sure you perfectly match the pattern next to the first strip and use the seam roller.
7.   Use a warm soapy rag to remove paste that gets on stairs and on wallpaper.  I did this step as I went along after each riser.

The entire process from vacuuming the stairs to cleaning-up took me about six hours.  But our stairs are wide, and I had a lot of cutting!

Until next time…

Ricki Jill


  1. Suzanne of Simply Suzannes at Home

    Your stairs are so pretty, Ricki!
    Thanks so much for sharing your tutorial!!

  2. When I joined Pinterest a couple of years ago, one of my first boards was about staircases. It made me miss our former home. I would have done something fun with the staircase by now.

  3. I love love love! I stenciled mine but would love to eventually tile them or something. I think the wallpaper is gorgeous!

  4. That looks very pretty. I have seen that on PInterest.

  5. WOWZA! This looks incredible! You did a great job and it looks fantastic. I would have been stuck trying to figure out which pattern to go on each one to get that neat look! I love it, Ricki Jill! What a great project my friend! Hugs!

  6. Your stairs are lovely! What a clever idea.

  7. This is an amazing idea. I love this project. The wallpaper is beautiful. They turned out gorgeous. Thanks for sharing this great idea.

  8. I love this. It makes me want to have stairs! ♡♡♡

  9. This is a beautiful idea! I love the floral wallpaper.

  10. How did you 'toughen up' the paper on the outside? I desperately want to do this, have the paper etc ready, but with kids and hoovering, brushing, cleaning the treads, I'm a bit concerned that my work is going to go to waste and the paper will get damaged

    1. Three of the four papers are very thick to begin with, and only one was not....I just took a risk with that one. The paper is much tougher than I thought, and the few scuffs I've had came off easily with a washcloth, warm water, and a little washing-up liquid. I wring-out the washcloth very well and then immediately dry the area. The hoovering hasn't hurt them, but when I mop the treads, I try to take my time and be extremely careful.


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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