Common Wallpaper and Wall Covering Problems

Blue and tan wallpaper on a wall

Following are some of the more common problems which may be encountered when installing wallpaper, along with their likely causes and solutions. Most involve improper or poor surface preparation, inadequate inspection prior to hanging, or installation errors. All of these problems can be avoided if proper instructions are followed.

Seams Opening


  1. Excessive rolling of seams forcing adhesive from behind wallpaper.
  2. Failure to apply adhesive to edges when pasting.
  3. Allowing paste to dry on edges while booking.

Solution: Loose seams can usually be re-affixed using wallpaper adhesive.

Curling or Loose Ends


  1. Improper wall preparation, i.e. not sealed or no sizing.
  2. Not enough adhesive used.
  3. Adhesive dried too fast due to high temperature in the room.

Solution: If problem is restricted to ends or edges, wallpaper can be re-affixed using the proper adhesive.

Streaks on Wallpaper or Other Surfaces


  1. Failure to rinse off wallpaper and walls after hanging to remove all excess paste.

Solution: Wipe with water or proper cleaning solution (check manufacturer's instructions).

Tears When Trimming

trimming the bottom of a wallpaper strip on the wall


  1. Usually caused by a dull blade.

Solution: Fresh blades should be used with every strip.

Gaps Between Strips


  1. If small gaps appear between strips, they are usually caused by improper surface preparation that results in poor adhesion.
  2. Gaps can also be caused by not butting strips tightly

Solution: Customers should be advised of the importance of following the manufacturer's instructions regarding relaxation time after booking strips. If not enough time is allowed, the wallpaper may continue to expand on the wall causing bubbles or blisters. If too much time is allowed, the edges may dry out and thus not adhere. Improper surface preparation may also cause some wallpapers to contract on the wall resulting in gaps. If wallpaper edges are stretched during hanging, as it dries on the wall, it may return to its original shape causing the gaps. They can sometimes be camouflaged by coloring the wall the same color as the base color of the wallpaper with a solvent-based marker. Tinting the primer/sealer approximately the same color as the wallpaper ground is another way of hiding possible gaps.



  1. Varies by wallpaper type.
  2. With natural materials, such as grasscloth, slight variations in colors are natural. If the effect is too stark, reversing each strip by hanging every other strip upside down can minimize the problem. Another method is to sort the rolls by tonal values and hang near matches together.
  3. With flocks, the problem is often caused by not using a non-staining adhesive or by using inappropriate tools when hanging. A short-napped roller or squeegee should be used.

Solution: If the shading is due to the ground color not being consistent from roll to roll, the problem is one that occurred during printing and the wallpaper should not be hung. If the shading has occurred with materials such as suede and corduroy, it is probably due to the nap not all running the same way. Brushing the nap against the grain on the pieces that were hung the wrong way will sometimes provide a more uniform look.

Design Dropping or Rising at Ceiling Line

woman applying yellow wallpaper to a wall


  1. Initial plumb line not truly vertical.
  2. Ceiling not on a horizontal plane.
  3. A combination of the two.

Solution: If caught at end of first wall, new, true plumb line on the next wall can help correct problem or minimize it if ceiling is not horizontal. If caught after the second or third strip, it can be corrected by drawing a new plumb line and double cutting adjoining incorrect strip. There is no way to correct this if hanging has been completed.

Show Through


  1. Some wallcoverings are thin enough to be semi-transparent and thus allow dark images caused by patching, etc. on the wall to show through.

Solution: This potential problem must be avoided by priming the wall with a pigmented wallcovering primer/sealer. If the wall is in particularly bad shape and a semi-transparent wallcovering will be used, lining paper should be used.

Bubbles & Blisters


  1. Not smoothing out a strip smoothly.
  2. Hanging in temperatures below 50' Fahrenheit.
  3. Improper surface preparation.
  4. Not allowing the booked strips to relax for the proper time.

Solution: Some can be eliminated by pricking and smoothing out or, if large, slitting and squeezing in more paste.

Content Provided by the Wallcoverings Association (WA).