Hanging wallpaper has never been easier. Follow our simple step-by-step guide to create the ultimate professional finish... without professional help! Weíll take you right through the process, from getting everything ready to the finished masterpiece.
By assembling the correct tools and preparing well, even a newcomer to the skill of wallpapering will soon get the hang of it. For first timers, we recommend using a lining paper first. This will give you some practical experience and also provide you with the perfect backing for your wallcovering, ensuring a smooth finish.
If youíve never tried hanging wallpaper before, start with a vinyl. These papers are the easiest to hang as they are more resistant to over-soaking or handling. Other papers may be a little more delicate but by carefully following our easy-to-use guide, youíll be well on your way to creating a fantastic new look in no time at all.
All you need are a few basic tools to help you do your job quickly and easily. You will need a bucket of water, a pasting table, brush and paste, a sponge, a pencil, a spirit level, a tape measure, a sharp knife and a pair of decorating scissors...and of course, your lining paper and wall covering!
Ready? Then letís get going...
ITíS ALL IN THE PREPARATION
Before you start papering, you will need to make sure that you have the best possible wall surface to work on. By preparing the base for your wall covering, you will save valuable time and effort Ė and also avoid having to call in the professionals to sort out your mess!
First of all you need to remove all existing paper from the wall. This will involve stripping off the paper with a stripping knife. Soak the paper until saturated in wallpaper stripper, or soap and water. The paper should come away easily from the wall. If the paper is particularly resistant, such as woodchip or richly-textured coverings, you might need to score the paper or scrub it with a wire brush before you soak it, or you might prefer to employ the use of a steam stripper to make large jobs quicker.
Some wallcoverings like vinyl or peelable papers can be pulled away from the wall when dry, leaving behind a backing paper. This can be removed by soaking or can be left as lining for the new paper if in good condition. If you do decide on the latter, make sure the backing is stuck down firmly in order to avoid blistering later.
You might need to fill in any holes or cracks which will create an uneven finish. Use a good filler and make sure that the surface is even and smooth before you allow it to dry. Similarly, if the surface of the wall is porous, you might need to seal it first.
Once the old wallpaper is removed and your wall is clean and dry, you are ready to begin...
GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS
If you are painting the woodwork or papering or painting the ceiling in your room, make sure you finish this before you start papering the walls. This will allow you to avoid messy problems and finishes later on.
Move your furniture into the centre of the room or away from the walls, leaving enough space to manoeuvre. You might also like to use a dust sheet to cover the floor and pieces of furniture around the area where you will be working.
Once you have chosen your wallpaper, check the labels first to make sure that the batch or shade numbers match on every roll, and that they carry the same product reference number. You might also like to check colours before you start by unrolling a section of each to double check. Contact us if you have any doubts. Itís too late once youíve started.
Make sure all your equipment and lining paper is ready and that youíve got the right paste...
Normally, lining paper is recommended by manufacturers as it enables you to achieve a highly-professional finish which you can create yourself. Lining paper is especially helpful if you are papering over areas which have been glossed or sealed with an oil-based product. This will provide greater adhesion for your wallpaper or wallcovering. The same applies for heavier wallcoverings such as flock wallpaper, hessian or hand-printed designs. Check the labels for the best way to apply.
Older plaster walls or walls in a poorer condition may need strengthening with a stronger lining, or Ďfibre enforcedí lining paper. This should be hung with the fibre side against the wall to gain a smoother, less bumpy finish and avoid plaster crumbling underneath.
Hanging lining paper allows you to get some invaluable practice before the real papering begins. Donít worry about seams coinciding with those of your wallcovering Ė the two papers are almost always of different widths so they donít need to match up.
Donít forget that hanging your lining paper horizontally (Ďcross liningí) will achieve an unequalled, highly professional and smooth finish, and this will make extra certain that there will be no coinciding joins between the lining paper and the wall covering.
Follow these foolproof steps to cross lining:
Carefully measure the length of the wall, and cut the lining paper into strips, adding on 25mm for the corners.
Using a spirit level, mark a horizontal line in pencil along the wall about 25mm under where the first length will be positioned (i.e. towards the ceiling, not the floor.)
When the first strip is pasted, fold it into a concertina (fig 2).
Always start in the corner, unfolding the next section as you smooth the paper into place. Make sure there are no bubbles or creases as you go Ė it will be very difficult to eliminate them later. Be careful to follow your pencil line and ensure that the paper is parallel until you reach the far corner.
Continue to work in this way from ceiling to floor, leaving a tiny gap between each strip.
Leave to dry completely before hanging your wallpaper (fig 1).
It is strongly advisable that you paint or paper your ceiling before you start on your walls, to allow for an easier application and a more professional finished look.
It is probably best to start at and work away from the window and across the room, continuing across the whole of the ceiling in this way. However, if this is the widest point, it might be better to avoid longer lengths and paper in the opposite direction instead.
Follow these simple steps to a smooth ceiling:
Pencil in a guide line using a long spirit level on the ceiling parallel with one wall and making sure that the line is at a 90į angle to the adjacent wall (fig 3). The line should be about 13mm less than the width of the paper out from the wall.
Paste the first strip and allow to soak, folding into a concertina shape.
When the paper is ready, prop up the end of the paper at the starting point with a broom handle or other similar support. You may want to construct a simple platform. (fig 4)
Carefully open the first fold of the concertina and place the paper into position, this time directly against the guide line (fig 5).
Continue unfolding the length and smoothing as you go across the ceiling, brushing the paper into position against the guide line.
When you have finished placing the strip, carefully trim each end of the length, leaving an overlap of about 13mm at the ends and along the length of the strip (fig 6).
Continue in the same way with each subsequent length, butt joining them (i.e. just touching not overlapping) across the ceiling.
Embossed or textured white papers for ceilings will usually need a coat of paint once in place. We recommend matt, silk or soft sheen emulsion. White blown vinyls need to be covered with a layer of matt emulsion before any sheen finish, as they can interact when silk emulsion is placed directly onto the paper.
For advice on how to paper around a light fitting, see the section on electricity points and light switches.
STRAIGHT TO THE MATTER
It can be tricky getting that first strip of wallpaper dead straight, especially as most walls are not perfectly symmetrical.
Using a long spirit level or plumb line, draw a vertical line with a pencil down the wall you are going to start papering. This will ensure that your pattern will remain straight and avoid that feeling of seasickness!
As when lining, hang the wallpaper about 5mm parallel to the vertical pencil line. Smooth the paper away from the line and into and around the corner by about 25mm (fig 7).
PREPARING YOUR WALLPAPER
Before you start to hang the wallpaper, you need to measure each strip. You will need to measure the height of the wall and add on 50mm extra at either end for neat finishing. To be on the safe side, cut only one strip at a time at first until you are satisfied that the strip is of the correct length (fig 8).
The outside edge of the roll is not always the top! Check with us if youíre not sure which way up we recommend the paper should go, although the choice is yours at the end of the day! Mark each strip on the back with Ďtopí to avoid mistakes later when you are ready to hang the paper.
Think carefully about where to position your first strip. If your design has a large pattern, it is generally better to start at the centre of a feature such as the chimney breast or main wall (fig 9). Make sure that when you cut paper with a large pattern, that there is a full motif at the top of the wall, rather than an incomplete one. Donít forget to allow for trimming (fig 10).
If you have a less detailed or plain design, the best place to start is in a corner or behind the door where it is least visible.
Donít forget to make sure that your pattern matches up before you cut the next length and keep any extra pieces you cut off for above doors and windows.
Now youíre ready to paste...
Make sure you have the right paste for the job by reading the label. If there is no advice, any all-purpose wallpaper paste should do the trick, but you might like to get in touch just to make sure. For vinyls and spongeable wallcoverings, you will need to check that the paste contains a fungicide. Follow the manufacturerís guidelines for making up the paste to the consistency and quantity you need.
Make sure that your table is clean, dry and free from paste. Should the surface of your paper collect any paste, sponge it off straight away to avoid marking or removal of the print.
Place your wallpaper face down on your pasting table. Working from the top brush on the paste in the direction shown in (fig 11). Donít brush backwards at the edges, as you will be in danger of collecting paste on the patterned surface of the wall covering.
Now fold the ends of the strip in towards the middle of the length. If you have a particularly long strip, you can fold the paper into a concertina, as with the lining paper.
Allow the pasted strip to soak. This will enable the paper to absorb all the moisture and expand, avoiding blistering later on.
After you have pasted your paper and allowed it to soak and absorb the moisture, take the length over your arm to the starting point (fig 12). This will usually be in the least visible spot, such as the corner. You might like to first read the section below on getting your first piece straight. Now you are ready to start:
Make sure you have the top of the length positioned at the top of the wall.
Open the first fold of the paper and position the top end lightly in place.
Slide the strip into position, allowing for an overlap at the top of about 50mm for neat trimming.
Carefully smooth down the middle of the length in the direction shown in (fig 13), making sure that you are creating a perfect butt joint and smoothing out any blisters. Be careful to match the pattern as you position each subsequent strip.
As you near the skirting, unfold the last section of the paper and continue to smooth it into place (fig 14).
When trimming the top and bottom ends of the length, gently score along the ceiling angle and skirting to ensure you cut the paper to the correct measurement. Smooth the ends back into place along the wall (fig 15).
Donít forget to sponge off any excess paste from the wallpaper and surrounding areas.
You will have been carefully smoothing out air bubbles as you go, but sometimes blisters will appear as the wallpaper starts to dry. If this happens, donít wait until the paper is completely dry. Gently lift the paper again and smooth out the air trapped beneath. If bubbles continue to appear, it may be that the paper has not been left to soak for a long enough period of time.
As the paper is soaked with the paste, the fibres will expand and if the wallpaper is put into place before this process has finished, the paper fibres will continue to expand and create air bubbles on the wall, so that no matter how much you try to smooth them out as you paper, they will persist. Although it might be possible to smooth these out once the paper has dried, this is not always the case and it is safer to re-position the wallpaper as soon as you can, as specialist rollers for the job almost invariably fail to achieve the desired effect of smoothing out the blisters.
Other reasons for blisters occurring include the paste being too thin; areas of wallpaper being left un-pasted; an unsatisfactory wall surface which does not allow for adhesion; or too much paste being applied, in which case the paper will not only blister but may also stretch and break or cause creasing.
Corners should never be hung with a single piece of wallpaper but should be covered using two strips of paper. Follow this step-by-step approach to papering around the corners in your room:
Measure carefully from the edge of the last piece of wallpaper before you place the corner piece (fig 16). You will need to make sure you measure at several points in case the wall is not quite vertically straight - as most walls arenít!
Cut your strip of wallpaper to measure allowing an extra 25mm on the width. This 25mm will wrap inside the corner and onto the adjacent wall (fig 17).
Where plastering is uneven you may need to allow more overlap for covering inside the corner.
Measure your next strip out from the corner - again allowing for uneven plastering - and draw in a vertical guide line in pencil at a slightly broader width (fig 18).
Paste and hang this strip in place parallel to the guide line as before, without covering the line. Smooth the paper down and brush it back into the corner so that it overlaps with the carried-round corner piece (fig 19).
Donít worry if the pattern doesnít quite match Ė this is least noticeable in a corner and is difficult to avoid.
Further tips for corners:
On outside corners such as chimney breasts, allow for an increased overlap of about 50mm and follow the same steps as above.
ELECTRICITY POINTS AND LIGHT SWITCHES
We would always recommend that you switch off the electricity supply at the mains before attempting to paper around plug sockets, light switches or light fittings.
Vinyls and other thicker wall coverings are more difficult to overlap and may not adhere well. In order to avoid any unsightly corners, very carefully slice through the two overlapping pieces with a sharp craft knife and remove some of the paper from underneath, cutting at a low angle.
Flat vinyls or other shiny surfaces may require an overlap adhesive. Contact us for details.
For square light switches, cover the switch lightly with the paper. Make a hole in the paper covering the switch and cut four diagonal lines away from the centre over the four corners of the switch (fig 20). Gently cut around the edges of the switch and press the paper into place. Then carefully trim away any excess paper around the switch in order to create a smooth finish for these tricky areas (fig 21).
If you need to paper around a circular switch, follow the same process but instead of four diagonal lines, make star shaped cuts instead (fig 22).
Professional decorators sometimes unscrew the fitting in order to fix the paper in place neatly under the edges. If you do choose to try this yourself make doubly sure that the electricity supply has been switched off.
Always be careful around sockets and switches with metallic papers and wallpaper paste which has a high water content.
To get the most professional finish, the radiator should be drained and taken off the wall. However, as this may not be practical, simply place the section of pasted wallpaper above the radiator and make cuts in the paper to fit down either side of the radiator brackets. Press down the paper. To achieve a smoother effect, you can press the wallpaper into place using a slim paint roller.
Although at first it may seem a difficult task, papering into recessed windows doesnít need to be difficult. As long as you are prepared for the fact that there will be some inevitable patching, you will first need to decide where best to allow this, for example hidden behind a curtain or blinds.
To get a professional finish, the best way to hang your wallpaper is to hang the strip into the recess, making cuts across the top and bottom of the wallpaper so that the spare piece can be brushed into the recess. Next, butt join the piece above the window and turn into the recess and then butt join the following strip under the window. Trim both sections and repeat until you have reached the opposite side of the window and then hang the last length as the first.
Next, you need to cut and paste the patching-in pieces making sure that they are slighter larger than required to allow for placing under the existing paper in the recess. To do this, you will need to pull away the edges of the full drops and position the patching-in pieces taking care to match the pattern. Trim and brush down. (fig 23)
Easy when you know how!
The first thing you need to do when papering a stairwell is to build a safe platform over the stairs - DONíT try to use ordinary ladders or balance on anything which is unsteady.
Papering the long drop in a stairwell appears to be the trickiest part of the papering process. But by following these simple instructions, youíll soon be a wallpapering whizz! (fig 24).
Make sure you apply a liberal amount of wallpaper paste to each length in order to avoid it drying out in the positioning process.
We hope that you have found our guide easy to follow and will successfully complete your first (or subsequent) papering project. Please contact us for any further queries, however small. Youíll soon get the hang of it and be creating mini-masterpieces of interior decoration in your own home!
Fold the strip concertina style and carry it over your arm to your platform.
You will need to hang the longest drop first, making sure that you overlap the head wall by approximately 12mm.
The length will be heavy, so it is better to engage a helper in this process who will be able to hold the strip while you position it, unfolding the concertina as you go. Take care not to stretch the paper in the process.
When you reach the skirting, carefully fold and cut the paper along the angle and brush into place.
In this way, continue along the stairwell in either direction away from the longest drop.