Wallpaper can really transform the look and feel of a room. To make the finish look great, you’ll need to do some basic wall preparation and then you can get on with the exciting (and frustrating!) part, hanging the paper… Here’s a guide, with advice on all the tools you’ll need.
Depending on the current state of your walls, this stage can be messy so you may find you need to move out furniture out of the room, or at the very least cover it with dust sheets. The walls need to be free of old wallpaper, cracks should be filled, damp problems sorted, and the walls need to be clean.
To strip old wallpaper, you can use a wallpaper stripping liquid that is specifically formulated for the fast removal of wallpaper. Apply it with a sponge and leave it to soak, then use a wallpaper stripping tool to begin removing the old paper. There are many different wall fillers and choosing one depends on the size of the crack and where the cracks are. Some fillers come ready mixed, others as a powder which you mix with water. It also depends on what the wall is made of, as some fillers are specially made for plasterboard, others for concrete, wood etc. Many fillers are universal, filling wood skirting boards and frames as well as plasterboard and brick. Once the wall is dry, you’ll need to sand it with a finishing pad to make the surface even, and then it’s ready to be cleaned. Ideally use sugar soap which can remove both grease and dirt and is specifically designed for decoration preparation.
- Hanging the paper
When you have a flat, plain wall it’s often best to start hanging from the middle and then work outwards. This will give you a balanced look when finished. If you have a central fireplace, this is the best place to start.
Using a tape measure, mark up the exact middle of the wall and measure where your wallpaper edge will be (i.e. if the width of your wallpaper is 50mm, you’ll work 25mm to the left of the middle). Affix a small nail near the top and hang a plumb bob on it, this will give you a perfect vertical line. Mark every 50cm down the string. Remove the string and the plumb bob and using a long spirit level, join up the vertical marks.
Measure the height of the ceiling from the skirting boards right up to the top of the wall. Allow around 100mm margin for trimming. Begin rolling out your wallpaper, find the starting point of the design or making sure that the middle shows the design you want. Measure the paper out on a pasting table and secure the end with a weight to stop it rolling up. Draw a line where you want to cut. Crease the paper on the line and then using scissors cut along the crease line.
A flake adhesive is suitable for nearly all types of wallpaper. It is easy to mix and allows you to slide the wallpaper easily up and down the wall when matching the pattern. If you’d prefer not to mix adhesive, there are ready mixed wallpaper adhesives available which are a blend of high-quality starch and PVA emulsions. Again, this should work with most wallpapers. Roll out the wallpaper on the table and use a pasting brush to liberally apply the mixture to the back of the paper. Start at the bottom of the sheet and work your way outwards and upwards. If the paper is longer than the table you’ll need to fold over the edge and pull the paper along, folding in a concertina style, until all your paper is pasted.
Starting at the top, align the top paper edge to the ceiling edge, allowing a little for trimming, and making sure the paper lines up with the vertical line you previously drew. As you begin to hang and unfold, use a paperhanging brush to smooth out the paper and attach it to the wall. Smooth out any air bubbles, if you need to, lift the paper again to smooth out any bubbles. A seam roller can be used to finish off the whole piece once it’s hung.
The seam roller will also ensure that you position the paper perfectly into the ceiling and floor corners. Use the roller to create a fold, then pull the paper back and cut along the fold, using scissors. You can also use a snap off blade knife but it’s important that you do this when the paper is dry, and that the blade is very sharp, as it can catch on the paper. Repeat the same process, matching the patterns whilst allowing for overhang/trim. The seam roller will help you smooth the join between the two sheets.
- Dealing with corners
Walls will often have ‘internal’ or ‘external’ corners that you’ll need to navigate.
First, you’ll need to measure a length of wallpaper as before. Before pasting, measure it on the wall matching the pattern, and make a fold where the paper meets the ceiling, so you’ll know where to measure from. Measure from the last piece of wallpaper to the corner edge all the way down (as no room is ever perfect) and add at least 20mm to the measurements. Paste up the paper as before, then cut to size, vertically. Using a wallpaper brush push the paper into the corner, allowing for the small overhang to sit on the perpendicular wall. Get the next piece of paper ready and apply border adhesive to the overlapping paper. When hanging the next piece of paper, you’ll overlap the 20mm of trim. Use a seam roller to finish it off.
External corners are much easier, as you can simply wrap the paper around the corner.
When you come to paper over a socket, begin by turning off the electricity. When you have a socket on the wall, to begin with, you’ll effectively be hanging the paper over it. Using the wallpaper brush, lightly sweep where the socket is so you can see its outline, but without damaging the paper. On the paper, draw a line from each socket corner to towards the middle. Cut these and then cut some of the excess paper off, leaving a bit of trim around the socket. This will allow you to finish smoothing out the paper. When the paper is dryer, loosen off the socket with a screwdriver. With the brush, push the trim behind the socket on all edges, being careful not to squeeze any excess adhesive behind the socket. Then you can re-screw the socket to the wall and turn the electricity back on.