Wallpapering a ceiling is best accomplished with two people.

How to Get Wallpaper to Stick to Ceilings

by Lisa Monroe

Wallpapering a ceiling gives your children something interesting to look at when they are in bed. The task is best accomplished by two people because while one person holds up the wallpaper, the other can accurately position it. When you are decorating, start with the ceiling and work your way down to make the design flow across all of your walls. Non-patterned wallpaper is easier to hang because the patterns don't need to match up. This technique will not work on textured ceilings.

Preparing the Ceiling

Disconnect the electricity that's leading to the room you are wallpapering. Remove the lighting fixtures by unscrewing them with a screwdriver and disconnecting the wires.

Hold a non-contact voltage tester near the wires. If the current is live, the light will activate; otherwise, cover the hole of the fixture with masking tape.

Don safety goggles and a face mask. Remove flaking paint by scraping a putty knife over the ceiling surface.

Wrap 220-grit sandpaper on a sanding block and sand down the surface of the ceiling to give it uniform smoothness. Use a palm sander to speed up the process.

Preparing the Wallpaper

Measure the length of the ceiling in the direction you want to wallpaper with a tape measure.

Unravel the wallpaper on a work table so the underside is facing upward. Use sharp scissors to cut the wallpaper at least 4 inches longer than the length of the ceiling

Brush wallpaper paste on the underside of of the wallpaper using a wallpaper brush. Make sure you cover the entire surface.

Climb your ladder while holding the wallpaper. Get a friend to climb the second ladder on the opposite side of the room while holding the other end of the wallpaper. Having a friend holding it in the air makes it easier to attach.

Press the wallpaper against the corner of the ceiling, leaving at least 2 inches to overlap. Work out any bubbles by running a wallpaper brush over the surface.

Match the wallpaper across the entire ceiling. Use the excess wallpaper overlap to make sure patterns line up together.

Press the seams of the wallpaper with a wallpaper roller. This squeezes out any excess wallpaper paste.

Cut a hole in the wallpaper around the light fixture with a utility knife, leaving at least 1 inch of wallpaper on the inside. Wallpaper only requires a small amount of pressure to cut. Too much and you could gouge your ceiling underneath. Reinstall the light fixture.

Items you will need

  • 2 ladders
  • Screwdriver
  • Non-contact voltage tester
  • Masking tape
  • Safety goggles
  • Face mask
  • Putty knife
  • Sandpaper, 220-grit
  • Sanding block
  • Palm sander (optional)
  • Tape measure
  • Decorating table
  • Decorating scissors
  • Wallpaper brush
  • Wallpaper paste
  • Wallpaper roller
  • Utility knife


  • If you have someone helping you, get them to hold the ladder to keep it secure when you are removing the flaking paint or sanding the surface.


  • Refrain from turning on electricity in the room until you have finished wallpapering.

About the Author

Based in Somerset, Lisa Monroe has worked as a professional interior designer since 1998. In 2012, Monroe started putting her knowledge into practice, writing articles for both online and offline publications. She holds a degree in creative arts from Bath Spa University.

Photo Credits

  • Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images