How to wallpaper like a professional

Rachel Greene-Taylor
Written by: Rachel Greene-Taylor
Posted on: 22 September 2015

Did you hear? Wallpaper is making a comeback. Just make sure you decide early on what look to go for.

How about romantic florals in soft pastel colours, or bold geometrics for a contemporary feel? Or maybe you’d rather go traditional with intricate damasks and stripes? There’s so much to choose from.

Once you’ve figured out what you fancy, use our simple guide to add a splash of character to your home.

Test it out

Don’t pick your paper on a whim. Take your time to find a style you like and can live with. Try out some samples at home under both natural and artificial light. Bear in mind, paste-the-wall papers are easier to put up than paste-the-paper.

Generous proportions

When measuring up, include windows and doorways in your calculations. It’s better to over-estimate the quantity, as this will allow for wastage when lining up patterns, especially if there are large repeats.

Hanging wallpaper

Hanging wallpaper

A good match

Buy rolls with the same batch number, so the colours match exactly.

The right tools

A pasting table will make the job simpler and saves trashing the dining table. You’ll need a pasting brush, a wallpaper-hanging brush, large sharp scissors, a trimming knife, a metal rule and a plumb bob – a weight suspended from a string – to give a vertical guide. Most importantly, always buy the paste the wallpaper manufacturer recommends.

Buy rolls with the same batch number, so the colours match exactly

Clear the decks

Just because you’re not splashing paint around, doesn’t mean there won’t be mess. Box up your knick-knacks and remove as much furniture as possible. Move larger pieces to the centre of the room and cover with dust sheets. Most DIY shops sell dust sheets and rolls of self-adhesive decor protector too, which is great for floors.

Surface matters

Most wallpapered or painted surfaces can be papered over; just wash down with sugar soap and leave to dry. However, if you’ve inherited woodchip, vinyl or washable wallpaper, you’ll need to remove it.

Scraping off wallpaper

Scraping off wallpaper

If it’s a large area, it’s worth buying or hiring a steamer from a DIY shop; you’ll still need to use a stripping knife but it will make removing it much easier. Alternatively, score the walls, and soak with a sponge and hot soapy water before stripping. It’s physical work, but you’ll save yourself a trip to the gym.

Then, fill minor cracks with a fine filler and sand lightly. For a super-smooth finish use lining paper. Applying a first coat of diluted paste to the walls can stop them soaking up the paste and help you to line up the wallpaper.

First cut

Walls are rarely perfectly straight, so measure the height in several places and add five centimetres to the longest length to allow for trimming at each end. Check which way up and where the pattern should go from the top of the wall, and mark with a straight line before cutting. Line up the next piece so the patterns match, and repeat.

Number the lengths in pencil on the back so you know in which order to hang them. Always start in the middle of a wall or chimney breast and work outwards.

Hang tight

Check whether your wallpaper is paste-the-back or paste-the-wall and follow the manufacturers instructions. When it’s ready to hang, slide the wallpaper on to the wall, line it up with the plumb bob’s line and let it unfold. Smooth out any bubbles working from the centre out, and trim off any excess at the top and bottom. Then repeat.

Once you’re done, stand back and admire your work – a magnificent makeover in a weekend.

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