Some of the most attractive wallpaper patterns are too busy for an entire room, but perfect for transforming a small area, such as a door
How to Wallpaper Door Panels
Thomas J. Story


  • 1 double roll of wallpaper, pre-pasted or unpasted
  • acrylic wallcovering primer with sizing
  • clear strippable wallcovering adhesive, labeled for all wallcovering types (if wallpaper is unpasted)


  • ruler
  • drafting triangle
  • pencil
  • sticky notes (Post-Its)
  • scissors
  • household cleaner, or deglosser if existing paint has a gloss finish
  • rubber gloves, bucket, and sponge
  • synthetic-bristle brush or sponge brush, 2 inch
  • wallpaper smoothing tool
  • wallpaper sponge


1. Measure and cut. With the ruler, measure the door panels. Then, using the ruler, drafting triangle, and pencil, lightly outline the shapes on the face of the wallpaper. On the sticky notes, mark the placement of the shapes and which end of each shape will face the top of the door. With the scissors, cut the wallpaper exactly to fit.

2. Prep and prime. Wearing gloves, wash the door with water and the cleaner or deglosser. Let dry. With the brush, apply a thin, even coat of wallcovering primer with sizing to each door panel. (This helps the wallpaper stick to gloss paint, which is commonly used on doors. The primer with sizing also makes the wallpaper easier to remove later.) Wipe away any drips with the damp sponge. Let dry.

3. Apply the wallpaper. If the wallpaper is unpasted, use the clean brush to apply a thin, even coat of the adhesive onto one door panel. If you’re using pre-pasted paper, brush water (instead of adhesive) onto the back of the paper and wait the recommended “booking” time. In either case, press the wallpaper onto the door panel. If you see that the paper isn’t aligned properly, slide it gently into position. Smooth the paper with your fingers as you go. Then go over the sheet with the smoothing tool, working from the center toward the edges. Sponge off any excess adhesive with the wallpaper sponge. Repeat for the other door panels.

4. Press the edges and complete. After applying wallpaper to each panel, wait about 15 minutes and then press around the edges of the wallpaper with your fingers one more time. Wipe the surface again with the wall-paper sponge.

Save money 

A typical minimum order of wallpaper is a double roll of 11 yards or more, which can be pricey. For a project like this, search online for “wallpaper by the yard” to find companies that sell shorter lengths. The price per yard might be twice as high, but the overall cost will be lower.

Style note

To get a symmetrical look, have matching images on each door panel. To do this, select a wallpaper pattern that repeats often enough so that you won’t waste a lot of paper between the design sections you want. 

First-timer tip

Pay attention to how the pattern repeats. If you want the design to appear as if it runs uninterrupted from the bottom of the door to the top, leave intervals for the door rails between your cutting lines.

Alternate method

Instead of pasting the wallpaper to the door panels, you can use permanent double-face tape. The process is neater, but the tape will be harder to remove than the wallpaper paste if you change your mind later on.