Description of Job
• Consult with homeowners on wallpaper projects.
• Measure walls and order paper.
• Hang wallpaper and special treatments, including trim and borders.
Wallpaper is an attractive way to decorate a home, but most homeowners lack the
time or the expertise to do a professional job by themselves.
Here’s a secret: It’s not that hard to do and does not require great feats of
strength. You can learn to hang wallpaper in your own home or by working with
someone else on a project, and then you can use your skills to start a profitable
No two jobs are the same. The shape of walls and their condition will vary
greatly. Some wallpaper patterns are much more difficult to match panel by
panel. Some wallpapers are heavier or in other ways more difficult to work with
You need to know how to accurately measure walls and how to apply those
measurements to standard widths and lengths of paper.
You should also become an expert on wallpaper itself, able to make recommendations to your clients on the best products and to warn them off of a selection that will not work well in their home or that is extremely difficult and
expensive to install.
Sometimes the most difficult part of the job is in preparing the walls for the
paper. There may be layers of old wallpaper to be removed, rough paint surfaces
that need to be smoothed, holes to be filled, and any number of past sins to be
Any liability you accept should be limited to the value of the paper itself. In
general, you should have the homeowner remove any paintings or other wall
hangings and move furniture out of the way before you arrive to do the job.
Know the Territory
Visit home supply stores and wallpaper specialists to become familiar with all
the different types of coverings. Contact some of the manufacturers and ask for
samples and technical advice. You’ll find a wealth of information on web sites
from stores and manufacturers.
You need to learn which types of paper work best in particular rooms. For
example, wallpaper in a bathroom is subjected to a great deal of humidity, and
paper in a kitchen needs to resist food and grease splatters. You should learn
about different hanging techniques for various types of paper.
An important skill is learning how to match patterns from panel to panel;
some wallpaper allows for easier matching than others, and some room designs
may make installation much more difficult.
Make contact with wallpaper wholesalers and find out about programs they
offer to small businesses. You may be able to direct-order wallpaper on behalf of
your clients, offering them a discount from retail prices or building some additional profit into your business by reselling the wallpaper at retail price.
When you purchase wallpaper for a job, make sure the store or wholesaler is
willing to take back unopened rolls of paper; you should generally order more
paper than you think you will need to account for errors and problems you may
You may also be able to work out a deal to receive a discount or a commission from a retail store on wallpaper and supplies you purchase on behalf of a
Look for information about wallpaper companies on the Internet and in ads
(many of which you’ll find in women’s and home improvement magazines).
How to Get Started
Post ads and flyers at home supply stores, in community centers, and elsewhere.
Place ads in neighborhood newspapers.
Make yourself known to area contractors who may need to hire wallpaper
subcontractors for new construction or renovations.
Ask friends and relatives to spread the word, and offer discounts or referral
fees to satisfied customers who recommend you to new clients.
In addition to advertising and promotion expenses, you will need ladders, buckets, drop cloths, and brushes. You will also need measuring equipment.
Depending on your level of experience, you may want to practice on walls
and rooms in your home before seeking outside work.
How Much to Charge
Jobs can be priced on an hourly or square-foot basis; if you charge per square
foot, adjust the rate upward if the walls require extra preparation or if there are
any extraordinary demands on your time.
In addition to the cost of time, the customer should pay for the wallpaper
and supplies, including paste. If you order the wallpaper from a wholesale
source on behalf of your client, you can mark up the price to retail prices or
Be realistic in any estimate you make on the number of hours the job will
require, and don’t promise completion of a job by a particular date unless you are
certain you will have all of the supplies and the job entails no special effort.