Stairs Wallpaper Ideas And How to Apply Them

Stairs wallpaper is a magical decor item and wall covering that often gets a bad rap. But the truth is that wallpaper if done right can be amazing when added around your stairs or on the steps of your staircase.

stairs wallpaper

Wallpaper is an amazing tool that should be appreciated. Since a staircase can be a tricky thing to work with, the effects can be even grander than when using wallpaper in a powder room or living room. 

Why Add Staircase Wallpaper?

staircase wallpaper design
Image from Rikki Snyder

There are multiple ways to add wallpaper to your staircase. You can add it to the wall around the stairs or you can add it to each step on the stairs. Both ways are quite attractive and can transform a space.

Continuing Staircase Wallpaper 

Continuing Wallpaper 
Image from Peter Zimmerman Architects

One easy way to add wallpaper to your stairs is to simply continue the wallpaper that you are using in the room below or above the staircase. This will make it easier to pick out wallpaper and save the trouble of putting it up twice.

It also creates great flow for your room, especially if the stairs are in the entryway. Mudrooms and entryways usually appear small and need all the help they can get to look larger. So this is a great hack!

Doing Both

Doing Both
Image design from Bel Arbor Builders, Inc.

This is probably the most advanced and difficult to achieve without going overboard, but it can have fantastic results. You can add wallpaper to both the staircase and the walls around it if you are careful. 

Just make sure not to choose something too loud as it can overwhelm the room. You can also choose two different wallpapers. One for the walls and one for the staircase which can tone things down a bit.

Choosing A Staircase Wallpaper

Choosing A Wallpaper
Image from Fry Homes

Choosing wallpaper can be difficult. You can’t try it out beforehand and you can’t take it down easily if you don’t like it. So it feels like quite a commitment and that can be scary in the interior design world.

Your best bet is to choose something that you like every time you look at it. A good trick is to buy the wallpaper, keep it for a few months, or as long as you can, and still be able to return it. Then, take it out again and see if you still like it. 

If you do, then put it up. You can also try the same technique without buying by finding a wallpaper and looking at it regularly, only buying if it is low in stock. Make sure you still love it before buying. 

Matching Your Design Style

Matching Your Design Style
Image from Lisa Frantz Interiors

One of the best ways to ensure your wallpaper looks good is to match your design style. You can either choose the wallpaper first or you can choose the decor first. Either way, the results will be the same.

Mismatched wallpaper can ruin a space. So make sure that you feel like the two are cohesive. You may need to opt for a wallpaper you like over one you love unless you are okay with switching up the design style of your room.

Opposite Staircase Wallpaper Technique 

Opposite Wallpaper Technique 
Image from Carolina V. Gentry, RID

This technique is more about not putting wallpaper on the stairs or around it. It’s simply another way to showcase the staircase if you will. This works especially well for alternatively mounted staircases.

Which means spiral staircases, staircases mounted to pillars or freestanding staircases. Because if you put wallpaper everywhere except where the staircase is, it can make a similar statement to wallpaper around the staircase. 

Feature Wall Technique 

Feature Wall Technique 
Picture design from Hansen Architects, P.C.

Putting up wallpaper is all about creating a unique space for your family. You can use it anywhere that you want and still have amazing results. One technique is the single wall technique where you only use one wall. 

This is perfect if you can’t afford much of the wallpaper you want or if you want to keep things simple. It is also another amazing way to ensure that the eye is drawn to the staircase before anywhere else. 

Pairing With Carpet Technique 

Pairing With Carpet Technique 
Image from Amy Kartheiser Design

Putting carpet over your entire staircase isn’t ideal but you can put a runner down that is easy to clean instead. When you do this, you forfeit putting wallpaper on the steps but allow a different vibe.

It is also sort of a hack that makes it where you don’t have to use as much wallpaper, which can save money. Not to mention, the carpet protects those stairs. You can replace the carpet but stairs are difficult to replace. 

How To Apply Staircase Wallpaper

How To Apply Wallpaper To Staircase
Image from Lynne Parker Designs

Now it’s time to learn how to put up wallpaper on the steps of your staircase. The best place to put wallpaper is on the front of each step. You can actually use contact paper instead of wallpaper for this too.

Step 1: Measure The Steps

Measure at least three times. Measure that each step is the same size. The width and the height of the area you are going to put the wallpaper are what you need to know. Then, add half an inch to each end. 

Step 2: Attach The Staircase Wallpaper 

Today, most wallpapers for this use are peel and stick. This is so much easier than the classic way of dipping the wallpaper in adhesive or applying adhesive to the walls. This way is super easy, anyone can do it. 

However, you do have to do it slowly to prevent bubbles. Start at one corner and slowly peel away the back as you stick the wallpaper down just as you would when applying a screen protector on your phone. 

Step 3: Remove Stray Bubbles And Paper

As hard as it is to get rid of bubbles, there will still be a few remaining if you do your best. So use a squeegee to smooth out bubbles and creases as you go. This will save you a lot of heartaches so take your time doing it. 

After you finish applying the paper, you can cut the excess paper off and smooth the rest back down. Only use a very sharp utility knife and don’t use scissors at all. A dull knife will only wrinkle your paper. 

Now you’re done! This is way easier now than it was ten, twenty, or thirty years ago. Now it’s just like applying contact paper! So you can DIY this design as often as you want. 

How To Apply Traditional Staircase Wallpaper 

How To Apply Traditional Wallpaper 
Image from Elza B. Design, Inc.

We all know that even today, not all wallpaper is a simple peel and stick. Some of the more high-end wallpapers are actually still traditional. You can also get some good bargains are large amounts of the traditional type too.

Step 1: Clean The Walls

Clean the walls thoroughly with warm water and soap, allowing the wall to dry fully before doing anything else. It’s not a good idea to saturate the walls but rather wash them with a damp rag so as not to damage them. 

Step 2: Even The Area

It’s important that there are no cracks, dents, or imperfections in the wall, or else they will stick out once the wallpaper is applied. So use mud and spackling to ensure you fill every crack and sand it down.

Step 3: Prime The Wall

It’s a good idea to prime the wall before hanging wallpaper as it will stick better to a freshly primed wall. So dust the wall after sanding and apply a simple primer so that you can have a fresh wall base.

Step 4: Measure The Walls

Now it’s time to measure the walls. Do so a few times. Measure and cut paper, adding a few inches to each side. Roll the paper backward to stop it from curling while you are getting it ready and then cut it.

Step 5: Apply Adhesive

Use a figure-eight motion to spread the adhesive evenly over the surface of the paper. Be sure to cover as much of the paper as you can without saturating it to the point of damaging the paper or poking holes. 

Step 6: Apply Paper

Starting at one corner, apply the paper carefully. You can fold the end over to give a dry spot to hold onto. You should also use a smoothing brush to smooth the paper down as you go, being careful not to leave any bubbles. 

Step 7: Finish Up

After you have finished one wall, cut the excess and begin with the next wall. Each wall should be pressed down at the seams to make sure that they stick. They shouldn’t overlap nor have a gap. Once you’re done, sit back and enjoy the view! 

Letting The Staircase Wallpaper Shine

Letting The Staircase Shine
Image from TM5 Properties

It’s all about letting the staircase shine, as it will be your feature piece. So whatever you need to do to do that will be perfect. Use any wallpaper, put it anywhere you like. Find a way to make your staircase stand out. 

If your staircase is already special then it won’t take much. Try applying it to the front or even around the spindles if you dare. Experiment and create an amazing room with the wallpaper that you love.