How to wallpaper your stairs – add personality, pattern and colour to your hallway

With a little cleaning up, your stairs may be the perfect platform for a makeover

Want to know how to wallpaper your stairs?

A staircase is often overlooked as a vehicle for adding texture and colour, particularly in a hallway. It is often just thought of as a means of getting from one floor to another. But it can become a welcoming focal point and add amazing interest to your home.

Staircases are not the easiest of spaces to work with and simple staircase ideas often involve leaving them painted or carpeted. But with the right preparation and a little vision they can easily be transformed.

The risers (the vertical area under the step or tread) lend themselves to all kinds of wallpapers with patterns and strong colours, especially when matched with natural wood or bright painted treads.

If you're after a spot of DIY and decorating, it tends to be easier undertaking the project on stairs that are already stripped or painted. But preparation is always key, so if you fancy a change from carpet, take a peek to see what is underneath.

white wall corridor with stairs with red leaf wallpaper and wooden floor

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jake Curtis)

'Wallpaper doesn’t have to be just for the four walls. The staircase can also be a great space to express our creative side. Those in-between places within the home, like corridors and the stairs, can often be neglected. But when you make the most of them with trendy patterns and prints, they can transform the home in very positive ways.

'Pops of bold colour can draw attention and unusual designs can also help bring a flair into your home,' explains Paula Taylor, Colour & Trends Specialist for Graham & Brown.

How to wallpaper your stairs

1. Measure the front face of the stair vertically and horizontally. Then use these dimensions to cut a piece of wallpaper to fit.

2. Go over the front face of the stair with a fine sandpaper. This makes it easier for the paper to adhere to the wooden surface.

3. Apply wallpaper paste to the face. Then press your paper into position, using a spatula to smooth out air bubbles, working from the centre outwards.

4. Once dry, protect the wallpaper with a coat of varnish. This helps avoid scuff marks and makes the wallpaper look good for longer.

girl measuring white stair steps

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Think about colour

Bear in mind the general hallway colour scheme around the stairs. For maximum impact, decorate the hall or stairwells in a uniform colour. Neutral paler shades are preferable, as this helps to emphasise the drama of the wallpaper details. Try geometric or abstract patterns for an eye-catching entrance. Or, alternate with a painted step and a wallpapered one.

Use this opportunity to be playful with your decoration. Take advantage of the natural rising of the steps by grading strong colour from dark at the base to light at the top. This is very effective set within a white hallway. Or perhaps mix up vintage linear papers for a visual feast.

stair case with mutli coloured stair wallpaper and yellow handbag

(Image credit: Future PLC/Katie Lee)

Choose the right paper

If possible, choose prints that can be used sideways, as the width of wallpaper will not be wide enough to cover the average stair. Plus, trying to match a pattern or join two pieces together can become a bit of a headache. Most abstract paper won’t look out of place, especially if used with a heady collection of other designs.

As each riser is quite a modest space to cover, using a wider range of papers can be more interesting. So ask friends and family for off-cuts or finish up old rolls. Time to update your humble stairs and indulge them in one of the most strikingly simple decorative projects – it’s just a few easy steps away!

We hope this 'how to wallpaper your stairs' guide will help you to achieve the stairs of your dreams!

Deputy Editor

Jennifer is the Deputy Editor (Digital) for Homes & Gardens online. Prior to her current position, she completed various short courses a KLC Design School, and wrote across sister brands Ideal Home, LivingEtc, 25 Beautiful Homes, Country Homes & Interiors, and Style at Home.