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How to hang wallpaper

Hanging wallpaper Wallpaper goes in and out of fashion. How to hang wallpaper is a question many have when considering updating the home. Today it is back on trend and is a great way to refresh your walls, create a signature wall and give a new look to your home.

However, you may feel unsure about reviving your wallpapering skills or trying something new. How do you hang wallpaper correctly? What if you can’t line it up just right? What about all that sticky paste getting everywhere? How do you get around the radiator and light switch?

If you want to hang wallpaper like a pro, you’ll need to know how to get it looking good. You can master the basics with the right skills, tools and practice but – beware – it is not as easy as it looks!

Follow this link for advice on a tool kit to help!

Let’s have a look at how to prepare and put paper on a wall.

Preparing a wall

Move all your furniture out of the way and protect it using a dustsheet. Wear overalls to protect yourself – the next job can be messy!

Your walls need to be free from old paper, cracks and imperfections. If the walls are painted, lightly sand them first. Any old wallpaper needs to come off with a steamer and scraper (Click here for example). Freshly plastered or absorbent surfaces need to be sealed with size (diluted wallpaper paste or PVA mix), applied with a brush or roller.

Use lining paper if your walls have imperfections. This off-white paper provides a smooth surface for paint or wallpaper. It is applied horizontally underneath wallpaper so it lies in the opposite direction to the wallpaper. This is called cross lining.

How many rolls?

Before you buy your wallpaper you need to work out how much you need.

  • Measure the area of the walls: length x height = area (m2)
  • Divide this by the area (m2) of a roll of wallpaper to give you the number of rolls you need to buy (a standard roll is 10 x 0.56m = 5.6m2). Note that some papers have different dimensions to the standard wallpaper.

How to hang wallpaperBe generous with your calculation, especially if the paper has a pattern that needs matching up. With a repeat pattern you need to allow more paper due to more wastage. Check that all the rolls you buy are all part of the same batch number so the colour matches.

Try the online wallpaper calculator, it can also assist you in making correct calculations.

Cut and paste

Some types of wallpaper allow you to paste the wall first rather than the wallpaper. You won’t need to soak the paper as the adhesive goes straight on the wall, hanging dry from the roll.

With more traditional wallpaper you need to apply the paste to the paper and allow it to soak in first.

  1. Measure the height of the wall adding 50mm top and bottom before cutting the wallpaper. For patterned paper, make sure you follow any instructions about matching up the pattern before you cut your lengths.
  2. Make sure the first length of wallpaper is hung straight. Use a plumb bob and string and pencil to create a vertical line, placing some guide marks on the wall behind the string and join the marks. This is the position you want to start papering. Alternatively draw a vertical line using a long spirit level.
  3. Measure from ceiling to skirting board at your chosen starting point. Add 100mm to allow for trimming. Look at the paper and find the starting point on the roll. This is not always the start of the pattern.
  4. Unroll the wallpaper face down on the table and cut to length. Gently mark on the back which end is the top to help you when you hang the paper correctly.
  5. Brush on the paste in the centre from the bottom and work the brush using a criss-cross motion to the edge that is lined up with the table. Now do the same with the other edge, fold the section and concertina it and apply more paste. Wipe the table to clean it and wait for the paste to soak in before hanging.

Hanging the wallpaper

  1. Start with top right edge aligned to the vertical pencil line and 50mm above the height of the wall. Hold the paper in one hand. Gently smooth it on and allow it to unfold, making sure the paper is straight. Use a smoothing brush to brush from the centre out. Try and remove air bubbles by lifting the paper and replacing it again so allowing it to dry flat.
  2. Gently tap the paper into the crease between the wall and ceiling to create a line, peel back and trim the wallpaper using scissors. Do the same at the bottom. Make sure all the paste has been removed and smooth with a brush.
  3. Cut your next piece, allowing any pattern repeat. Paste and soak as before. Hang up next to the first piece, aligning the pattern exactly. Use a seam roller to gently roll between the pieces. Carry on in the same way until you have covered the whole area of the wall. Leave it to dry.
  4. Job done! Step back and admire your work. Now…

How to hang wallpaperThe tricky bits

Don’t underestimate how tricky it is to wallpaper an entire room. You will need to go round corners, windows, radiators and around electrical fittings and plug sockets. Even the walls might not be entirely straight.

You will find that some wallpapers are more difficult to hang than others. Plain paper, stripes and random patterns may be easy but drop match wallpapers (where you need to match up patterns) are tricky to hang and can create a lot of waste.

A skilled amateur can usually solve everyday wallpapering problems. However, some obstacles may be a real challenge – even for the professionals, so it is as well to know your limits when it comes to wallpaper decorating.

There are a number of mistakes that newcomers make. This may include not reading the wallpaper instructions properly. The wall may be poorly prepared or the paste poorly mixed and applied (including not cleaning up properly afterwards). If incorrect smoothing techniques are used, this may result in air bubbles and a disappointing finish.

A poor job is visible to all and imperfections have to be lived with for years to come.

Getting a professional in

Remember that a skilled professional can be the ideal way of doing a wallpapering job. If you have chosen an expensive, good quality wallpaper you may want to show it off to its full potential.

You can find decorators with these skills through findacraftsman.com the Guilds directory of experts in your area. It can be worth the investment to get in an expert to do who can overcome unforeseen problems and create a beautiful space you can be proud of!