Wallpaper is a great choice when it comes to home decor. With so many different designs and types out there, wallpaper offers a level of intricacy and style that can be difficult to achieve with paint.

That being said, wallpapering is not something which you can just jump into without knowing what you are doing. Typically a decorator will need a number of specialty tools for a job like this, while hanging wallpaper around corners, above windows and doors or over switches and power sockets will require a well practiced hand. With wallpaper or paint, a poorly done job will be easy to spot, and a room with badly applied decor can quickly bring down the value of a property.

When it comes to wallpapering, the ideal Pro for the job will be a local painter-decorator, though a handyman with the right amount of experience should also be able to do the job. If your walls are in a poor state, it can be a good idea to have a plasterer repair the imperfections before you think start decorating. Any bumps, holes or cracks left on the wall will still show up through the wallpaper, or they could even cause it to tear as it is applied.

One crucial thing to remember is that you should not start wallpapering a wall that has problems with damp. Consult a damp proof specialist if necessary and have the cause of your damp fixed before you even think about decorating. A lick of wallpaper will not solve a damp issue and you do not want to finish wallpapering a room only for your hard work to be ruined by a giant wet patch, or worse, mould.

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Preparing to wallpaper a wall

Before you can start hanging wallpaper, your wall will need to be in a good condition. It is not advisable to hang wallpaper over an existing layer, especially if the current layer has a non-porous vinyl surface. Wallpaper removal is the better option if you want your new layer to look absolutely perfect.

Any imperfections in the wall will also need to be addressed, or they will show through the new wallpaper layer. If there any holes or cracks in the wall, fill them and sand them flat. You should also sand away any unseemly bumps.

A useful solution can be to hang lining paper in the room first, as this will smoothen the walls, and you can even paint over it if necessary. If the wall is in a complete state of disrepair, it will be best to have a plasterer fix it up.

An obvious step which sadly many people forget is to measure the room in question before actually buying any wallpaper. Measure the perimeter of the room and the height of your walls to calculate how much of your chosen wallpaper you will need for the job (and remember to add a little extra, just in case!)

The next step will be to disconnect any switches and plug sockets in the room from your breaker. Next, remove as much furniture as you can from the room and cover everything that remains, including the floor, with dust sheets.

Finally, wash the wall with sugar soap to get it ready for your wallpaper. If the plaster is gloss painted, you will need to rub it down with abrasive paper to make it porous enough before you can get started.

Tools for wallpapering:

If you want to do the job right, you will need to have the correct tools:

  • Tape measure
  • Pasting table
  • Pasting brush
  • Damp sponge
  • Step ladder
  • Wallpaper scissors/ trimming knife
  • Paper hanging brush
  • Wallpaper adhesive (and something to mix it in!)
  • Screwdriver


Hanging wallpaper

Once the room has been prepared and you have unfolded your pasting table, the next step will be to mix your wallpaper adhesive. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter while doing this. 

How you will be using your adhesive will depend on the type of wallpaper you have chosen. With traditional wallpaper, you will apply adhesive to the back of a strip before hanging the strip on the wall. However, certain types will require you to apply the adhesive to the wall itself and to then press the dry paper against it. 

Select the spot on your wall where you want to start wallpapering. If your chosen wallpaper has particularly large patterns as part of its design, it will be best to start from a dominating feature in the room, such as a chimney breast or the middle of a main wall. Otherwise, the most important thing to remember is that your starting point should not be on a wall with any doors or windows. Take a pencil and carefully draw a straight vertical line on the wall. This will help you to position your paper and patterns.

Measure out a length of wallpaper using the height of your wall as a guide (and give yourself an extra 10cm to help you get things absolutely perfect). You will want to be able to apply the paper so that the patterns are whole at the top of your wall and cut off at the bottom.

Once you have cut your first piece, use it as a guide for cutting the second, and so on. This will make things much easier than having to measure your strips out every single time!

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Depending on the type of wallpaper, there may be a ‘soak time’, which refers to the amount of time required for the wallpaper to expand to its maximum length after an adhesive is applied. It will be important to check this before you start applying the adhesive.

If you are using traditional wallpaper, place your strip face-down on your plastering table. Using your pasting brush, start applying the adhesive using upwards and outwards strokes. Use a damp sponge to remove any paste that has collected on the back of the paper.

To make it easier for you to start applying the strip to your wall, fold the ends of the strip towards the middle. Try to imagine the middle of an accordion and you’ll have a good idea of what you’re aiming for. 

Using a stepladder if necessary, press the top half of your strip gently against the top of your wall, leaving around a trim of around 5cm at the top of the ceiling. Carefully line up your strip with the vertical line you made before, then smooth the wallpaper down and remove any bubbles using your paper hanging brush.

You will want to gently tap the brush at the points where the paper meets the ceiling and skirting boards. Slowly ease the excess paper away from the wall, then cut it away with your scissors before pressing the remaining paper back against the wall. There is no need to throw out the waste paper: it will be useful when you come to your doors and windows.

When applying additional strips, carefully line up the edges and patterns in order to create a seamless connection. You should also take care to remove any paste from the front of your wallpaper with a damp sponge. Take your time in getting these points right: a botched wallpaper job is easy to spot!


Wallpapering around corners

When it comes to wallpapering corners, there is a simple rule to follow: do not attempt to press the width of your wallpaper into the corner itself. This is because corners, typically, are not completely square, and trying to apply wallpaper in this way can leave it looking uneven. 

Instead, cut the wallpaper down the length, so that there will be no more than a 2cm overlap at the corner.

Wallpapering around doorways and windows

Hanging wallpaper smoothly around doorways and windows can be tricky. Unless you are extremely lucky, you will most likely end up with a strip of wallpaper overlapping the frame, but this is exactly what you want!

Allow the wallpaper to overlap the frame, and look for where the paper meets the upper edge. Using your scissors, cut a diagonal line towards the top corner of the frame. This will allow you to fold the wallpaper back along the top and side of the frame.

Press the wallpaper into the edges of the frame using your brush, then carefully remove the excess. Tap the paper firmly into place, then repeat the process on the other side when you come to it.


Wallpapering around sockets and switches

To successfully apply wallpaper around your plug sockets and light switches, the first step will be to switch them off via your breaker. This will ensure that you don’t give yourself a nasty shock!

Take a screwdriver and gently loosen the front of your socket/switch. Next, begin hanging your wallpaper as normal. Find the socket/switch under the paper and use your scissors to cut a small hole just over the middle. From here, you will need to cut into each corner, giving yourself four triangles of excess. 

Gently remove the excess so that around 1mm remains on each side of the switch/socket, then slide the excess underneath the front plate. Use your brush to smooth down the paper around the switch/socket, then tighten the plate. You can then reconnect it at your breaker.