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Expert's corner: how to hang wallpaper like a pro

It can seem daunting at first - but with this helpful guide it doesn't need to be...
   Alex Whitecroft  |  written on: 03-06-2019 16:30pm

If you want wallpaper but think it’s beyond your DIY capabilities, think again. These tips from Alex Whitecroft of I Want Wallpaper will help you perfect the art of paper hanging just in time for a new summer look.

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Over to you, Alex!

1. Buying paper
It’s important to buy wallpaper in consecutive batch numbers so the paper matches up perfectly when hung. Accurately measure the total area that needs to be covered and slightly over order to allow for any mishaps. A roll is generally advisable. Over ordering is also essential if you’ve chosen patterned paper so you can match it up to repeat the print perfectly.

Arthouse Botanical Songbird Wallpaper in Teal


2. Tool up
Having the right equipment does help, so either borrow or buy the following items for a professional finish.

•    Pasting table (some come with a built-in ruler that will certainly come in handy)
•    Step ladders
•    Bucket (buy new to avoid any dirt that could affect paste)
•    Pasting brush – a soft bristled brush that squeezes out air bubbles and extra paste
•    Seam roller – a tool that helps to seal edges without marking surfaces
•    Wallpaper smoother – flexible plastic tool to smooth wallpaper and remove air bubbles
•    Carpenter’s level / plumb line – a tool that determines the vertical on an upright surface it’s essential to make sure you hang wallpaper straight
•    Pushpins
•    Steel tape measure
•    Pencil
•    Scissors (and a jug of water to dip them in to remove paste)
•    Large scraper or spatula
•    Utility knife

3. One step at a time
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.

Erismann Botanical Leaf Jungle Wallpaper in Green


4. It’s all in the prep
Size the wall to start by covering it in a mixture of half PVA glue and half water applied with a paint roller – it’s not essential but this will create a slightly glossy finish to the wall and make it easier to slide paper into position and help it stick.

5. Don’t rush in
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 height within the room – especially in old houses where floors and ceilings can be uneven – and to make sure you have adequate paper to line up the repeat pattern.

Tip: The basic rule is more is more, you can always trim down, but you can’t make your paper grow.

Arthouse Lagoon Coral Wallpaper


6. 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’re using. A wheat base is gentle and suitable in most cases.

To apply paste, lay a strip of paper flat on the table and level with the edges (try to avoid getting paste on the table), weigh down each end and spread on the paste evenly. Fold the paper in a concertina to carry it safely to the wall.

7. Line up
It’s very important to get the first length straight as this sets the template for the rest of the room so use those handy straight pencil lines you’ve already drawn as a guide.

8. In and out
If your paper has a large pattern, then start in the middle or at a focal point in the room and work outwards – again you’ll need to measure the mid-point of your wall. 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.

Tip: Another detail that’s vitally important and yes, sometimes overlooked, make sure each sheet of paper is the right way up!

Arthouse Mother Of Peal White Wallpaper


9. Overlap and trim
Apply the paper to the wall allowing 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.

10. 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 that there are no air bubbles.

Also read
Expert's corner: how to remove wallpaper like a pro

Credit: Erismann Graphic Arts Wallpaper in Blue by I Want Wallpaper (Cover image)

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Alex Whitecroft


Alex Whitecroft has worked in the home interest sector for more than 15 years. Having run her own successful interior design business for over a decade, she now specialises in wallpaper, which she hand selects from leading suppliers for I Want Wallpaper, one of the UK’s leading online wallpaper stores.