The Basics: Working with Wallpaper

Hanging wallpaper is still one of the easiest ways in interior decorating to make an impact in your home, yet many of us are daunted by the task. If your home is in need of a re-design, and you fancy a change from painting, why not give wallpaper a try? Follow some general rules and with a little patience and practice you will paper like a pro.

Tool Box

Firstly, ensure you purchase the correct amount of wallpaper for the project by working out how many rolls you will require. Don’t be tempted to estimate! Paper at the ready, there are a number of other pieces of equipment that will help make life easier and give a great finished look.

  • Pasting table, pasting brush and paste
  • Stepladder
  • Tape measure
  • Spirit level
  • Smoothing brush
  • Small roller
  • Sandpaper and filler
  • Water, sponges and cloths
  • DIY knife

Get Set

It goes without saying that wallpaper will not adhere as well to an unclean or uneven surface, so make sure you give the walls a wash down before you begin. Look out for any holes or cracks and fill them if need be. Attempting to paper around objects like sockets and switches might seem like a short cut, but it’s much easier to remove these and any other obstacles at the outset. Next, decide where you are going to hang the first roll of wallpaper, bearing in mind that its pattern will need to match up with the last piece. Try to begin and end in an area where it won’t be obvious if the pattern doesn’t quite line up – in a corner or behind a door is perfect. Measure and mark your starting point.

Cut and Paste

Making sure you follow any product-specific instructions, it’s time to prepare the paper. Your pasting stable will provide a steady, flat surface for cutting your wallpaper strips to size. Making sure the patterns match up, cut away, allow a little additional length at the bottom and top of the piece. This allows for any adjustments you might need to make to match patterns and, when trimmed, will leave a neat edge. Following the instructions for your particular paste product carefully, cover the back of the paper with adhesive. Starting at the middle and working outwards will ensure more even coverage, and less mess.

Hang Tough

Begin to hang your paper at the ceiling, lining up with the starting mark. To smooth the paper and eliminate air bubbles, use the smoothing brush very gently and work the roller over the paper’s edges. Once hung and firmly in place, trim off the excess paper and clean off the whole strip and surrounding wall with a damp sponge or cloth. Hanging paper into or around corners need not be difficult either. Measuring into the corner from the last piece you hung, cut your next strip of paper accordingly, allowing an additional inch. This gives you enough paper to go around the corner completely, bringing the join conveniently to a flat piece of wall. You will need to cut the paper slightly at the top and bottom so that it fits snugly into the corner. Hang your next full-width strip of paper so that it overlaps the additional inch. Keep it up!

Top Job

Like painting, successful wallpapering requires a patient, methodical approach. We’ve all seen at least one interior decorating comedy sketch built around a wallpaper disaster zone – don’t let rushed workmanship ruin your finished project. Take your time, enlist help if you need it, and with a little care and confidence you’ll soon be on a roll.