Sick of staring at the same old walls, but not sure how to hang wallpaper so you get a brilliant result? We spoke to experts to find out the insider wallpaper hanging tips to make the job easier and achieve a great finish.

Putting up wallpaper – either throughout a room or just on a single feature wall – is a great way to introduce personality into your home or update decor, as there’s a huge variety of colours and patterns available. Wallpaper can help hide uneven walls, small dimples and imperfections too, and is generally cheaper and easier than replastering.


How to hang wallpaper

“If you’re new to wallpaper then the thought of tackling the job yourself can feel a little overwhelming, but it’s actually really easy to hang,” insists Alex Whitecroft, head of design at I Want Wallpaper. “As with any job, preparation is key. Taking time to strip and prep walls properly will make sure you end up with a professional finish, plus there are some tricks of the trade that will help.

“If you’re nervous about using patterns, try a feature wall while you find your feet,” she adds. “They’re still a huge trend in interiors and will provide a focal point in the room.”

Read our guide to home workspace design ideas – 7 tips for decorating your home office.

15 wallpaper hanging tips

Keen to know more? Here are Whitecroft’s tips for stripping and hanging new wallpaper…

1. Check existing wallpaper

Check existing wallpaper to assess how easy it is to remove.
Check existing wallpaper to assess how easy it is to remove.

It’s important to know what’s underneath existing wallpaper. Use a scraper to test how many layers of paper there are. The best paper to remove is ‘strippable paper’ and most vinyl wallpapers are strippable – a smooth texture on the back will indicate this.

Check how easy the paper’s going to be to remove by using a knife to pry away a corner of the paper, then pull it down at an angle. If it peels away in a long strip, with no signs of adhesive underneath, the task is a lot easier. To make wallpaper even easier to remove next time, add an acrylic primer to the wall.

2. Prepare surfaces, workspace, floors and walls

It’s important to protect floors, woodwork and furniture, and it’s also good practice to remove wall sockets if possible. Cover any gaps with tape to stop water getting in, and turn the electricity off to be extra safe. If you can’t remove furniture, then move it to the centre of the room and cover it with a sheet.

To do the job properly when learning how to hang wallpaper you’ll need:

  • Ladder
  • Wallpaper scraper
  • Utility knife
  • Spray bottle
  • Liquid soap/detergent
  • Sponge
  • Tape
  • Old sheets
  • Rubber gloves.

Read our guide to how to light a home – 9 tips for designing indoor lighting.

3. Give it a good soak

For non-strippable wallpaper, make a number of slits around 10-inches apart in the paper with a utility knife, being careful not to damage the wall underneath. Use a sponge to wet the wall with a mixture of warm water, a small amount of cellulose paste and liquid detergent. Adding slits allows moisture to soak behind the wallpaper, making removal much easier, and creates strips to guide removal strokes.

4. Removing wallpaper with a scraper

Use a scraper to remove old wallpaper.
Use a scraper to remove old wallpaper.

Once the paper’s soaked for a few minutes, start to scrape it off with a wallpaper scraper. Slide behind the slits, holding the blade at a 30-degree angle, slowly scraping the paper upwards, away from the wall.

5. Removing well-stuck wallpaper

Steamers can be used for more stubborn papers – they’re slightly messier than the slit and soak method, but if wallpaper’s stubborn, they’ll get the job done.

Stuck on wallpaper can be removed with a steamer.
Stuck on wallpaper can be removed with a steamer.

Alternatively, a handy trick is to use fabric softener – it softens both the glue and the paper, making the job much easier. Mix equal parts of softener and hot water in a spray bottle, and spray a section of wallpaper until it’s saturated. Wait around 15 minutes to allow the solution to work its magic, then peel away the paper, using a paint scraper on stubborn areas.

6. Removing wallpaper paste

There may be residue or traces of glue left on the wall, which can be removed with a solution of washing-up liquid, a tablespoon of baking soda, vinegar and hot water. Again, apply with a sponge. The solution should soften the glue or paste, so it’s easy to wipe away with a rag. Use a putty knife or similar scraping tool to remove any remaining paste.

Read our home trends 2020 guide – 10 on-trend ways to transform your home.

7. Prepare to paper

Once the wall’s dried thoroughly, patch any holes with a joint compound (a creamy material available from DIY stores). Once dry, use sandpaper to create a smooth surface.

8. Make sure you’ve bought enough wallpaper

Calculate how much wallpaper you'll need including wastage.
Calculate how much wallpaper you’ll need including wastage.

A handy tip for how to hang wallpaper for the perfect finish is to buy wallpaper in consecutive batch numbers, so the paper matches up perfectly. Accurately measure the area that needs to be covered and slightly over-order to allow for mishaps. Over-ordering is also necessary if you’ve chosen patterned paper, so you can match up the pattern repeat.

9. How to hang wallpaper means using the right tools

Wallpaper hanging tools
Make sure you use the right wallpaper hanging tools.

You’ll need the following tools for hanging wallpaper:

  • Pasting table
  • Stepladder
  • Bucket
  • Paint roller and tray
  • Pasting brush
  • Seam roller (a tool that helps seal edges without marking surfaces)
  • Wallpaper smoother (a flexible plastic tool to smooth wallpaper and remove air bubbles)
  • Spirit level/plumb line to make sure you hang wallpaper straight
  • Pushpins,
  • Steel tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Large scraper
  • Utility knife.

10. Prepare the wall

‘Size’ the wall 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.

11. How to hang wallpaper correctly

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 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 pattern repeat.

12. Check you’re using the right paste

Some pastes can remove the finish of wallpaper, especially delicate papers, so check you have the right paste for your paper. 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, weigh down each end and spread on the paste evenly. Fold the paper in a concertina to carry it safely to the wall.

13. Applying the first length

Make sure the first length of wallpaper is straight.
Make sure the first length of wallpaper is straight.

It’s important 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.

14. Work outwards for patterned paper

If your paper has a large pattern, then start in the middle of the wall or at a focal point in the room and work outwards – again, you’ll need to measure the mid-point in 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 you can hang full-lengths without any problem. And make sure each sheet of paper is the right way up!

15. Overlap and trim

Don't worry too much about trimming when learning how to hang wallpaper.
Don’t worry too much about trimming when learning how to hang wallpaper.

Apply the paper to the wall, allowing some overlap at the ceiling, and then trim it. Don’t worry if your first attempt’s wonky, you can manoeuvre your sheets to get them into the perfect spot as the paste won’t dry immediately. Repeat with further strips and ensure the pattern lines up.

Smooth the paper so there are no air bubbles and voila – you’ve wallpapered like a pro!

How to wallpaper a feature wall – expert DIY guide and wallpapering tips



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