21st Nov 2022 -

Except for painting, hanging wallpaper is probably the DIY home improvement job most people feel they are capable of doing themselves. To get a great-looking result though, you have to be both thorough and meticulous in your approach or you will probably end up with air bubbles or peeling corners. If you follow our easy step-by-step wallpapering guide and tips for hanging wallpaper, you will be sure to feel like a pro once you finish. 

Tools and materials you will need

Step 1 - Measure your walls for the wallpaper

The first step is to measure up the walls you are covering. A standard roll is usually 53cm wide and 10 metres long. To figure out how many rolls you need and make sure you get enough to pattern-match, it is advised to buy more than required. If you are wallpapering the entire room, measure the total perimeter of the room including doors and windows. 

Divide this number by the width of the roll to get the number of widths needed. Then measure the height of the room and multiply this by the number of widths required. Split this number by the length of the roll to measure wallpaper and calculate how many rolls you need. 

A man laying out wallpaper on a bench before hanging it

Step 2 - Prep your wall for wallpaper

Before you start wallpapering, you need to make sure the wall is clean and free from debris. Remove any old wallpaper or plaster using hot water and a scraper. Fill any cracks or holes with an appropriate filler product. Then wash the wall thoroughly with sugar soap which will remove all dirt and uneven spots for an even and smooth wallpaper application.

Step 3 - Use lining paper

You don’t always have to use lining paper when wallpapering as it is perfectly fine to wallpaper straight onto a pre-prepared wall. However, if your wall has imperfections, hanging lining paper is a great way to cover this. It is also advisable to use lining paper if you are using embossed or expensive wallpaper as it gives it a better finish. Be sure to place the lining paper horizontally around the wall.

Step 4 - Cut and trim wallpaper

Cutting the wallpaper is fairly straightforward. Measure out the height of your wall and add 10cm to this measurement to allow for trimming. Use a wallpaper-cutting tool such as a wallpapering knife or scissors and the first strip as a guide when cutting the second strip. If your wallpaper has a pattern, make sure you line this pattern up before you start cutting.

Step 5 - Mix the adhesive and paste the wallpaper strips

Mix the wallpaper glue in a bucket stirring with a stick. Always follow the instructions given in the packet. Then add the paste to the wallpaper strips and fold them gently together with the top end and bottom end meeting in the middle of the strip. Spread the paste on the back of the wallpaper using upward and outward movements. For the best result use a table for this job.

Step 6 - Start hanging wallpaper

There are several rules on how to hang wallpaper correctly - the first is which order to hang the paper. If you are only covering one wall, work from one end to the other making sure the pattern matches. But if you are wallpapering a room with windows, you start there and work your way out on both sides.

You also need to draw a vertical line down the wall to ensure your wallpaper hangs straight. Use a plumb line and mark a line on the wall with a pencil. Now you should be ready to hang your first strip of wallpaper. Unfold the top half of the already pasted length and press it gently against the top of the wall. Leave about 5cm extra to trim at ceiling height. 

Then use the wallpapering brush to smooth the length into place ensuring you remove all of the air bubbles. Make sure you match the edge of the paper with the vertical line you created. Then slowly unfold the entire wallpaper strip and smooth it as you go along.

Trim the edges of the wallpaper at the top and bottom. To ensure a neat cut, mark a line with the back of your scissors before easing trimming wallpaper and then cutting it. Use the brush to smooth the paper back into place after it has been cut.

Male builder hanging wallpaper on the wall

Step 7 - Check the wallpapering

Before you add the second strip to the wall, measure out the third strip to make sure the pattern matches. Then add adhesive to the second strip and fold it together. Some adhesives instruct you to wait before hanging the wallpaper to let the adhesive expand properly. Be sure to always follow the instructions from the manufacturer. 

Once the wallpaper is ready for hanging, place the second strip next to the first strip and use the brush to smooth it into place as before. Make sure to pattern-match the design and create a seamless butt joint. This is very important to create that great professional finish.

Continue in the same way until you reach the corner of the room. Paying extra attention when wallpapering corners is important if you do not want to end up with crooked wallpaper. Here you should allow a 2cm overlap around the angle. If you are using thick wallpaper, you should allow a 5cm overlap. As corners are not usually square, trying to work around a corner with a whole width is usually not very successful and often causes the length to hang crookedly.

Step 8 - Make corrections

For inside corners, you need to press the overlap onto the next wall using a brush and cut the excess paper from the wall. You need to apply some adhesive to the corner next to the wallpapered area and place the trimmed wallpaper to match the pattern. Then wipe off any excess paste and continue on to the next part.

When tackling outer corners, you want to avoid any air bubbles appearing as you fold the overlap onto the next wall. Be sure to meet the edges of the last wallpaper strip and smooth the wallpaper as you go along. Make a plumb line on the next wall before finishing the rest.

Smart wallpapering tips

  • If you get paste on the front of your wallpaper, quickly remove this with a damp sponge.
  • Larger offcuts can be used for areas above doors and windows.
  • Use a pasting table to make the job easier and keep this dry and clean from the paste.
  • To get a clean look around light switches and power sockets, hang the paper as normal and then cut it in the middle of where the socket is. Then cut from there to the corners. Unscrew the socket and brush the paper underneath the plate before screwing the plate back on. Make sure the electricity is turned off when doing this.
  • Wallpapering over wallpaper is possible but not recommended. This is because of the previous wallpaper’s texture and colour which may come through, existing air bubbles, old glue which may lead to the old wallpaper peeling off and many other unexpected consequences. 

How to use a wallpaper steamer

Perhaps you are hoping to remove some old wallpaper before applying a fresh new look? Using a wallpaper steamer will get the job done much quicker than scraping for hours on end.

Before setting up the wallpaper steamer, it is advised to remove any nails or picture hooks from the walls and put down some plastic or dust sheets in the room. You also want to cover any electrical outlets and light switches and be sure to open any windows to get as much ventilation as possible.

After you wait for the water in the steamer to boil for approximately 10-15 minutes, it is time to get to work. It does not matter whether you start at the top or bottom of the wall, but starting at the top means any dripping water will help loosen the bottom section. 

You probably need to keep the scraper close by to remove any stubborn bits. If the steamer suddenly goes quiet, it is because it needs a refill of water. 

Wallpaper your home with our tools and materials

Building Materials Nationwide works with builders and decorators across the UK offering a selection of high-standard wallpaper and wallcoverings for every domestic or commercial project. We aim to help professionals source all the products they need from one place, saving time and money.

Whether you are planning on learning how to wallpaper your home, or you have your sights set on a much larger task, our knowledgeable trade experts will help you every step of the way. If you are in the building industry, you can sign up for a trade account which gives you full access to your own dedicated account manager. 

Give us a call today or sign up for a trade account through our website, or tell us what you need through the form below.

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