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How to wallpaper

We’re still a nation of wallpaper-lovers, so whether you’re planning a panelled, floral or geometric look, here are our top 10 tips on how to wallpaper. Preparation, preparation, preparation…


Before you buy

Buy wallpaper in consecutive batch numbers, so the paper matches up perfectly when hung. Accurately measure the total area that you want covered and slightly over-order to allow for any mishaps or, if you’ve chosen a patterned paper, so you can match up the repeat pattern. 

Tool up

Get your hands on this basic kit for a professional finish: pasting table, step ladders, bucket, pasting brush, seam roller, wallpaper smoother, plumb line (for hanging straight wallpaper!), tape measure, pencil, scissors, scraper and utility knife. 

Start small

If it’s the first time you’ve tried your hand at wallpapering, then a ‘low traffic’ room such as a bedroom is a good place to cut your teeth or just opt for a feature wall versus an entire room.

Size it up

‘Size’ the wall to start, by covering it in a mixture of half PVA glue and half water applied with a paint roller. This will create a slightly glossy finish to the wall and make it easier to slide paper into position and help it stick.

Be measured

Use the plumb line to draw straight lines at regular intervals around the room. Measure the floor-to-ceiling height of the room and make a mark on your pasting table – this saves time measuring each piece of paper individually. Allow a good few extra inches for variations in wall height (especially in old houses where floors and ceilings can be uneven) and to make sure you have enough paper to line up any pattern repeat. The basic rule is more is more – you can always trim down, but you can’t make your paper grow.

A good pasting

Some pastes can remove the finish of wallpaper, especially delicate papers, so check you have the right paste for the paper you have. A wheat base is gentle and suitable in most cases. Lay the paper flat on the table, weigh down each end and spread the paste evenly; fold the paper in a concertina and carry to the wall. Some new wallpapers now recommend pasting the wall instead, so check before you start.

Line up

It’s crucial to get the first length straight as this sets the template for the rest of the room, so use those straight pencil lines you’ve already drawn as a guide.

Starting point

If your paper has a large pattern, then start in the middle of the wall (you’ll need to measure the mid-point) or at a focal point in the room and work outwards. For plains or small pattern repeats, begin papering from the corner of the room, ideally on a wall with no windows or doors so that you can hang full lengths without any problem. Make sure each sheet of paper is the right way up!

Overlap and trim

Allow some overlap at the ceiling and trim it down once you’re happy with the position. Don’t worry if your first attempt is wonky or slightly out of position, you can manoeuvre your sheets to get them into the perfect spot as the paste won’t dry immediately. And, of course, your walls are nice and smooth from your prep.
Dining area

Smoothly does it

Repeat with further strips and ensure the pattern lines up. Try to work away from the window, so overlapping edges don’t cast a shadow. Smooth the paper so there are no air bubbles.