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How to Wallpaper Around a Window: A Pro Step-By-Step Guide

Man putting up patterned wallpaper near window
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Thinking about how to wallpaper around a window might fill you with fear, but any competent DIYer will be able to tackle the job. All you need is the right tools, the know how (which you will find here) and a little patience to give a room the finish it deserves.  

There’s a good chance that you will be removing wallpaper before you apply your new wallpaper around a window. You need to make sure that you do this well, otherwise your new wallpaper will not stick properly and it won’t be long before you need to repaper and no-one wants that.

Here we give you the lowdown on how to wallpaper around a recess-free window and a top technique for good-looking wallpaper in a window recess.  

How to Wallpaper Around a Window: Where to Start

Once prepped, with your equipment ready, the starting point when learning how to wallpaper in a room with a window is establishing where you'll hang your first drop.

You should hang the first drop of wallpaper near the window, so you have a full roll to use as your reference point. Take your roll of wallpaper, hold horizontally and place the mid–point on the window edge and mark on the wall where the edge of the wallpaper will sit.

Now take the roll, place it next to the point you just marked and work towards the corner marking where each roll will drop. If the corner drop is going to be really narrow i.e. less than three inches (2.5cm), adjust so that you have a larger gap in the corner. But ensure you do not have too narrow a gap by the window; create a happy compromise. 

Once you have established where your first full roll is going to sit, get a long spirit level or a laser level (opens in new tab), and mark with a pencil to get a level vertical line to work with.

How to Wallpaper Around a Window: The No-Recess Method 

A lot of windows do not have a recess, they often have architrave and are a little simpler to wallpaper around than a window with a recess. 

1. Drop wallpaper and mark

Line up your dry wallpaper next to the mark – or drop of pasted wallpaper – next to the window (as explained above). Mark where the top and side of the window are on the paper, add a couple of inches and cut. Alternatively, use a very sharp knife — a modelling knife is a good choice.  

You should now have a roll of paper that goes from top to bottom with a cut out where the edges just overlap the window architrave when hung. This makes it much easier to put up a roll of pasted paper. It’s not as heavy and you get less paste stuck on the window frame, so less time cleaning up.  

2. Paste and hang
Now paste the paper and hang as you would a normal drop. Butt up against the seam of the starter drop and smooth down from the top to the bottom with a wallpaper brush (opens in new tab). Now use the brush to tap in the edges tight around the window. 

Start at the top and mark with a pencil if you are going to emulsion (in the case of lining paper). If not, use the back of a pair of wallpaper scissors to mark the cut line. Now use the scissors to cut. Create a small 45 degree cut at the corner and dab in with the brush. 

Now use the same technique to do the vertical edge and window sill. Do the vertical edge first and as you get towards the window sill create a small 45 degree cut at where the vertical edge and window sill meet. Dab in with the brush for a close fit. Now mark where the window sill end is and cut. Finish by marking under the sill – with pencil or scissors and cut.

3. Finish up
Now go back over the whole drop with the wallpaper brush and smooth out and check that the seams are still in place. If not, adjust by gently pushing into position. Dab any edges down for a clean finish. 

Finally get a bowl of water and a damp clean cloth and wipe off any excess wallpaper paste from the edges and window frame. Repeat if necessary and wipe dry with a clean dry cloth.

4. More drops
With the first cut drop in place, measure up the next drop. This should be short as it goes from ceiling to top of window. Butt up to the seam, dab top and bottom with the wallpaper brush and mark your cut with a pencil or scissors. 

Pull the wallpaper very slightly off the wall and cut. Now dab into position and repeat until you get to the other window edge. Use the same method as the opposite window edge to finish wallpapering around the window.

Don't forget once you have finished the job you will need to make sure that you dispose of your wallpaper paste properly.  

How To Wallpaper Around a Window With a Recess 

If you have a window recess that needs wallpapering there's a little more work involved and a slightly different method to a window with no recess.

1. Mark and cut
This method will ensure that you get a full width drop rather than cutting in line with the recess. This makes it easier to ensure that you have straight seams as there is no need to try and match. 

Line up your paper and roughly cut where the edge of the recess is. Now paste the paper and hang.

Create a small 45 degree cut where the vertical and horizontal meet and use a wallpaper brush to smooth out. Now fold over the edges and dab into the recess. The edges should go around 5mm into the recess, cut with scissors or a very sharp knife if needed. Use a seam roller (opens in new tab) to get a flat clean edge.

2. Wallpaper the recess
Now measure and cut a strip of wallpaper that fits the vertical recess. Make sure to measure from the straight edge of the wallpaper. Leave an extra inch all around for adjustments. Paste the paper and put the straight edge of the wallpaper and line up with the outer edge of the recess.

Dab down with a wallpaper brush and mark the inner edge of the recess with pencil or scissors and cut to fit. Do the same for the top and bottom edges. Now use a seam roller to push down both edges for a clean finish. Apply the same principles to the top of the recess.  

If using lining paper, wait until it has dried out – leave for 24 hours – before painting. There are plenty of options here, but choosing the best wall paint will ensure that your wallpapering efforts are fully complemented.     

Should I Overlap Wallpaper Seams? 

For most wallpapering projects there is no reason to overlap the seams. They should be butted together as tightly as possible and if needed smoothed down with a wallpaper seam roller.

However, you can overlap in corners and edges where necessary by around 5mm when wallpapering around a window. This helps create a neat corner with no gaps and is less likely to be spotted. 

If you're hanging liner paper and you know how to paint a room like the pros then this will help hide any overlaps even more. 

Steve is an avid DIYer with over 20 years of experience in transforming and renovating homes. He specialises in painting and decorating, but has strong all-round building skills, having previously worked in the industry for 10 years.