Start with the right kit: wallpaper perforator, scraper, pasting table, tape measure, bucket and sponge, pasting brush, paperhanging brush, scissors, plumb line and pencil. If you’re hanging paste-the-wall paper, you don’t need the pasting table, and a paste roller can be used as an alternative to a pasting brush. It is helpful to wear some overalls or an apron with pockets to hold scissors, smoothing brush, seam roller, pencil etc. If walls are more than 2.5 metres (8ft) high use two stepladders and a plank to make a stable platform. For detailed instructions on equipment required and how to hang wallpaper, see below:
Choose the right paste
How to cut paper
Where to start and finish
Papering around corners
Papering window recesses
Papering around a door
Papering around light switches and sockets
Papering around a radiator
Papering external corners
Get the room ready: move furniture to the middle so all the walls are clear. Ideally, remove any radiators from the walls – but only if you’re confident you know what you’re doing.
Strip the old paper. Go over it with the perforator, then soak it with soapy water or wallpaper stripper solution, and attack it with a scraper. A steam stripper (buy or rent) makes the job quicker.
Vinyls are easy to strip: the top surface should peel off, leaving the paper substrate which soaks and strips very easily – or you can just leave
in place and paper over it.
Take great care not to let water get into electrical sockets or light switches. Ideally, strip the walls in broad daylight, so you can switch off the power at the main consumer unit and still see what you’re doing. Fill any cracks or holes in the plaster with filler, and sand it down when it’s dry. Flick water at the wall – if the water is absorbed immediately, the plaster is porous and will need to be sealed with diluted paste before hanging the wallpaper. This is called ‘sizing’ – the paste packaging will give instructions.
If the walls are not in good condition (lumpy or cracked plaster, for instance), it’s a good idea to line them first with lining paper, the heavier the better. Lining paper will help to disguise the lumps, and will provide a better surface for the top paper to adhere to. This applies also with walls which have been painted with gloss paint: the lining paper will give a better ‘key’ for the top paper. Lining paper is best hung horizontally, to avoid any risk of the joints in the lining paper coinciding with the joints in the top paper.
Choose the Right Paste
Make sure you have the right type of paste for the paper you have chosen; read the instructions on the wallpaper label, and on the paste packaging.
There are two sorts of paste: ready mixed, which is more expensive than the other, the usual mix-it-yourself type. Follow any mixing instructions carefully. Mix the paste at least fifteen minutes before you are ready to start using it. If you’re mixing flake or powder paste, make sure you use an absolutely clean bucket – mix it thoroughly and allow it to stand for the recommended time.
These have dry paste applied by the factory and are activated by soaking in water. Ideally, use the water trough supplied by your retailer. Soak loosely rolled, cut lengths as per instructions on the roll label and pull up paper from water trough, ensuring the back of the paper is fully wetted. Do not let paper touch wall until you reach the top, then hang as normal.
Paste the Wall
The latest major development. ‘Paste the wall’ wallcoverings use a special backing containing ‘non woven’ or polyester fibres, which means the paper is dimensionally stable – in other words, it doesn’t expand when wet. This allows the paper to be hung dry from the roll, and reduces the installation time by around half. Also the paper can be easily removed when redecorating is required. No paste table is needed, there’s no soaking, and it’s easier to cut round light switches and sockets, because the paper is dry. Paste the Wall’s dimensional stability also means there’s less risk of bubbling, creasing or edge curl. Overall, it’s a much easier product for the newcomer to paperhanging. The best adhesive to use is an all-pupose ready-mix, although ordinary powder or flake adhesive will perform satisfactorily. A mohair paint roller is good for applying the paste to the wall.
It is best to cut several lengths before starting to paste.
Divide up the surface of your pasting table with pencil lines about 305mm (12") apart. This will help you to measure paper lengths easily without a ruler.
Measure the ‘drop’ – the length of the paper from top to bottom – and add 125mm (4"-5") to each full length (ceiling to skirting board) to allow for trimming.
If using a design with a pattern repeat, allow enough extra length on each piece to ensure that the pattern matches in sequence.
Roll up any cut, unpasted lengths and number them to avoid mistakes.
Mark the wall where you want the edge of the first length of paper to hang, then use a plumbline to mark a perfect vertical at this spot.
Fix the top of the plumbline close to the ceiling with a drawing pin or masking tape, wait until the line is perfectly still, then make pencil marks down the wall to show the vertical. Or chalk the plumbline first with coloured chalk, and ‘snap’ it to the wall to leave a chalked vertical line.
Position the pasting table so that it is between you and the nearest window, so you’re not standing in your own light. Unroll the paper face down on the table, and hold it flat with a length of timber or a long ruler.
|When the soaking time is up, unfold one end and position it against your vertical line at the top of the wall, allowing 50mm (2") to overlap at the top for trimming. Use a paperhanging brush to smooth it onto the wall, smoothing vertically down the centre of the paper first, then brushing out to the edges. One edge will wrap around the corner by about 20mm (3/4"). Any bubbles under the paper should brush out to the edges. If the paper creases, lift it gently away from the wall and brush it down again.|
With paste-the-wall wallcoverings, use a brush or roller to apply a generous, even layer of paste where the first length is to be hung. Ensure the pasted area is slightly wider than the wallcovering. Apply the wallcovering directly from the roll: slide the length into position, aligning one edge with the vertical line and allowing the other edge to wrap around the corner by 20mm (3/4"). Any bubbles under the length should be brushed out to the edges. When you’re satisfied that the top half of the length is right, unfold the bottom end and brush that down to the skirting board. Check that the paper is perfectly aligned with the vertical, and that there are no creases or bubbles.
|With the back of a pair of scissors, crease the paper along the top where it meets the ceiling or picture rail, and the bottom where it meets the skirting board, then peel the top and bottom away from the wall enough to let you cut carefully along the crease with scissors. Discard the trimmings, and brush the paper back into position. Sponge off any surplus paste. Stand back and admire!
Cut the next length, remembering to allow for the pattern drop – the amount of surplus you need to ensure the pattern matches. Repeat the ‘paste, soak, and hang’ process, making a butt joint against the first piece: the two lengths should just touch, but not overlap.
back to top
Decide where the first length of paper will hang.
Measure 500mm (20") out from a wall corner, preferably adjacent to a window, and work away from the light towards the longest unbroken wall. Then go back to work from the other side of the window. This will minimize the risk of ‘shadow lines’ if you happen to overlap any paper.
On chimney breasts, it is usually best to 'centre' a length exactly in the middle and work left and right to the edge. Lap around the edge of the chimney breast at least 15mm (1/2").
When you reach the first corner of the room, measure the width into the corner in several places (walls are never perfectly vertical) and add 10mm (1/2") to the widest measurement. Trim the length to this width, and paste and hang it, smoothing the paper into the corner and leaving the 10mm (1/2") turn on the new wall. Then use the plumbline to mark a vertical on the new wall, 25mm or so (1") less than the width of the offcut from the last length, and paste and hang the offcut to the new vertical so that it can be creased and trimmed into the corner. With vinyls, use a special overlap adhesive at this point.
At a window recess, follow the order shown in the illustration.
|First hang a full length on the wall, cut carefully along the horizontal above the window and turn the paper into the vertical side of the recess. Then hang the next length above the window, turning it into the horizontal face of the recess. Cut a small piece to fill the horizontal gap between the first and second lengths, with a small overlap in the corner and with enough for a small overlap at front and side, which is tucked behind the first and fourth pieces. Finally, cut and hang a fourth length to fill any gap in the vertical face of the recess if necessary.
At a door frame, paste and hang a full length, then cut away most of the surplus paper, leaving an overlap of 25mm (1"). Cut diagonally into the top corner so you can smooth the overlap into the edge of the door frame, then score and cut as you do at the top and bottom of a vertical length.
At an electric switch, first turn the power off at the main consumer unit, then loosen the screws on the switchplate.
Paper over the switch, then cut a diagonal cross into the paper covering the switch, peel back the four triangles of paper and cut them off, leaving enough surplus to tuck under the switchplate. Re-tighten the screws, and turn the power back on. Treat electric sockets the same way.
The best way to paper behind a radiator is to remove it completely – but only do this if you’re sure you know what you’re doing.
Alternatively, make a special tool for papering behind the radiator: a thin length of wood such as a ruler, with the end wrapped in cloth, so you can reach behind the radiator and smooth lengths of paper into place. Cut away surplus so as to leave 150mm-200mm (6"-9") and tuck down behind the radiator with this 'tool', top edge first followed by the sides.
|As shown in the illustration, hang the first piece to fit to the edge of the external corner. Cut the second piece to fit just beyond this corner by 10mm (1/2"). Fold overlap round corner when hanging.
Always hang a lining paper under your wallpaper if:
If you are hanging lining paper vertically, make sure that the joins of the top paper do not fall in the same place as the joins of the lining paper.
Do not overlap lining paper - it is in fact better to leave about 2mm (1/8") gap between strips.