Before and After – Wallpapering my stairs

Lest you think that I have completely given up on doing things myself around here, I had what I like to call a Project Day today. First, I cut all the beadboard panels for what will be the new backsplash at the country house (come back for that one!). Then, I grabbed a roll of wallpaper and redid my stairrisers.

Close your eyes. OK, actually, don’t, because you need to keep reading. But picture your house stairs in your mind. Not the walls around the stairs, but the stairs themselves. Are they pretty? I’m going to take a wild guess and say no. If you are really lucky, you have dark wood and white risers. I remember at the last house, when I painted the risers. The internet went wild! How could I paint hard wood? Actually, I think it was more painting all the mouldings than the risers, but still.

In the last 2 months, I have become OBSESSED with staircases. Why don’t we do more to our stairs? Stairs can be so pretty! Check out the Pinterest board I created!

Ok. Are you back? great! Some of you might remember my wallpaper saga of 4 years ago. The Russians hung my hard-to-get UK wallpaper at a 5 degree angle, driving me totally batty in the process. I got them to buy me new rolls of the same wallpaper, but never re-hung it because I was so scared! Then we moved and I found a very elderly Polish gentleman who did not speak English or French but hung my wallpaper with such precision that I had 2 rolls left. Since the wallpaper is in the front hall, I thought it would be nice to carry the color towards the upstairs by wallpapering the risers. Here are the before and afters:




















See? Don’t you want to go up the After with a spring in your step? It was SUPER easy and very quick. I used about 1/2 a roll of wallpaper and 1/2 a gallon of Border and Repair Glue (not actual wallpaper glue, the special stuff for borders).

Because my stairs are 40″ wide, I could not cut the wall paper in the standard direction. So I measured my riser height (5.5″) and cut very long strips sideways on the roll. I cut those strips down to 40″. So technically, the wallpaper is hung on it’s side. If you have a particular pattern in mind, you need to be mindful of this.

I put the paste on the back of the strips and ‘booked’ them for 5 min. That just means letting the glue settle into the paper. Because I was doing it on high-traffic stairs, I also brushed on some glue onto the risers before applying the paper. Then, it was about 1 second of adjusting the paper in place and rubbing it in with a small plastic spatula (the kind I usually use for putty).

I have a lot of suggestions for doing this:

  • if you are staging your house, this is a way to spruce up your stairs and make people want to go see what you have upstairs, all for under 40$
  • if you have debated painting your risers white but were afraid to commit, buy a roll of the paintable white wallpaper and put it up. You can live with it as is, or if you decide to commit to painting, these strips will come off very easily.
  • you could easily do this with fabric. I would probably spray it with sizing first to make the edges sharper when cutting them.
  • Mix and match! some of the pins on my board alternate patterns. You could use 2 complimentary patterns, or mix up a bunch of scrapbooking papers and go wild!

For your enjoyement, here are a few pics of the ‘During’ process


  1. Mrs. Figby says:

    Yeah. We’re totally doing this project on ALL MY STAIRS (not the basement) when you come next time. Just sayin’. LOVE IT.

  2. Wendy says:

    Very nice. I wish I had stairs.

  3. ubercrafty says:

    Wendy: there has to be *SOEMTHING* you can spruce up this way… a door? the back of a kitchen island? I have seen lovely bookshelves with wallpaper glued to the back to liven them up.
    Mrs Figby: you do NOT neet to wait for my next visit (which may be sooner than next january!) YOU can do this, it’s SUPER easy!