Hanging wallpaper is a skill that can save you money and bring you a great deal of satisfaction. You don't need to be a professional decorator to wallpaper a wall. You just need patience, practice, a little bit of know-how, and the right tools for the job. Eventually, you'll be able to finish any room as good as anybody else. Before you get started, make sure that you have enough of your wallpaper, wallpaper paste, an application brush, a plumb line, scissors, a knife, and a wallpapering table or suitable flat surface.
How To Hang Wallpaper
- Remove any existing wallpaper
You can remove any existing wallpaper manually using hot water, a sponge, and a stripping knife – though this can be slow and demanding, especially over larger areas. For more efficient wallpaper removal, you should use a steam wallpaper stripper – moving the steam plate up the wall and removing the damp paper left behind with a stripping knife. (For information on using a steam wallpaper stripper, refer to the instructions and read our blog on how to use a steam wallpaper stripper)
- Prepare the wall
Before attempting to apply the new wallpaper, you need to ensure that the surface of the wall is smooth, dry and debris free. Plaster over any holes or dents, remove anything that's protruding, and sand or smooth down any unlevel sections. If you need to, apply wall sealer. Wall sealer covers the porous surfaces of plastered walls, and it reduces movement when the wallpaper is hung and improves the adhesion of wallpaper paste.
- Prepare the wallpaper
To prepare the fresh wallpaper, first, measure the length of the wall from the ceiling to the top of the skirting board – make sure that the wall length is the same around the room. If not, you will need to compensate by cutting shorter/longer lengths of wallpaper as you go along. Lay the wallpaper out on a wallpapering table and draw a straight line across the paper at the measured point, use wallpaper scissors to cut across the paper. You should leave around 100mm extra to allow for precision trimming once the wallpaper has been applied to the wall. You can cut multiple strips of wallpaper at this point, so you have all the strips ready when you come to hang them. If your wallpaper has a pattern on it, you should line a cut strip next to the roll of paper and match up the design before you cut the next strip.
- Mix your wallpaper paste
Prepare your wallpaper paste then lay out your first piece of wallpaper and apply it thoroughly, covering the entire strip, using an application brush. You can fold the strip as you paste along with it, without the paste touching the front of the paper, into a concertina. This makes the strip easy to pick up and set aside as you paste another 2 strips. It also allows the paste to soak into the paper.
- Apply the first wallpaper sheet
To ensure accurate, straight wallpaper, you can use a plumb line to draw a line from ceiling to skirting-board, 480mm out from the corner. This allows a 50mm overlap on to the window wall if using standard wallpaper - which is 530mm wide. Adjust your measurement accordingly if you are using non-standard size paper to ensure a 50mm overlap. Position the first pasted length at the top of the wall with its right-hand edge running down the vertical line. Make sure about 50mm of excess paper is left above the top of the wall for trimming. Use a brush to smooth out any air bubbles, working from the centre to the edges, and trim the excess paper from the top and the bottom by creasing it and cutting with scissors.
Repeat this process with the next sheet, making sure the paste covers the paper to its edges. Ensure that the first sheet and the new sheet are pressed together on the wall so that the wallpaper pattern lines up on each side. When several pieces are in place, you can run a seam roller lightly down the edges of the strips to ensure a professional, seamless join.
How To Wallpaper Corners
When you have wallpapered all of the full walls, finishing the corners is your next challenge. To paper corners properly, measure the width of the final pieces of paper you need and add on an extra 20mm. Hang the wallpaper and press the extra 20mm of overhanging paper around the corners. Once the wallpaper is hung around the corner, you can either trim the excess and remove it or simply cover it up with more paper, paint or however you want to decorate the wall.
When all walls have completed, wipe down all of the fresh surfaces using a clean cloth. You should do this from the centre of the wallpaper outwards so that any excess paste and air bubbles can escape from the edges. After that, all you need to do is stand back, admire what you've just achieved, and give yourself a pat on the back. Congratulations!