How to Hang Wallpaper

Another inexpensive way to freshen up a room is by learning how to hang wallpaper. The right wallpaper can give a room character, create a style or add to an existing theme. Wallpaper comes in so many colours, patterns and styles that your options are endless; your biggest decision will be narrowing down your selection to just one!

(If you’re looking to hang wallpaper but need to remove the existing paper you should read our guide to removing wallpaper first).

What You’ll Need:

  • Paste
  • Paste brush or roller
  • Knife or snap off blade
  • Level
  • Sponge and bucket of clean water
  • Smoothing brush or plastic smoother
  • Tape measure
  • Putty knife or straight edge
  • A pencil
  • Step stool
  • Drop cloth

How to Hang Wallpaper

First of all, you’re going to need to work out what quantity of wallpaper you need, and when shopping check the label on each wallpaper to see how much there is per roll; it should only be a simple calculation to determine how many rolls you’ll need.

To work out the surface area of a wall multiply the width by the length. So if your wall is 5 m long and 3 m high, then the calculation would be 5 by 3 which makes 15 square metres. Ensure you have enough paper for the job.

You can save time by buying wallpaper which has already had the glue applied. If you have this type of wallpaper, you will obviously not need to buy wallpaper paste.

Stage 1: Preparation

For the best job, the first thing you should do is paint the surface of where you want to wallpaper with a solution of PVA glue mixed at a dilution of 4 parts PVA to one part water. Many people like to draw a line on the wall going right up to the top with a spirit level before they hang wallpaper so that they have an accurate vertical guide for hanging.

Next measure your first piece for hanging – and then add on around an extra 25 centimetres to it and cut. You need the excess to make fitting easier.

Mix your wallpaper paste in a bucket as per the instructions on the paste. Take your piece of wallpaper and place it with the back facing up so you can apply the paste to the paper. Evenly apply the paste brushing up and down making sure you cover the entire paper.

Man putting glue on wall paper on the preparation table

Stage 2: Hang Wallpaper

Once done you must now fold the paper on itself making like a concertina pattern ready to hang. Give the glue around 5 minutes to get established on the paper.

Unfold your length of paper and offer it up to the wall using your vertical line to keep it straight. It should stick where you put it. If you are going up against a ceiling, leave 10cm or so beyond what is required and let this fold under the ceiling. You can then push the paper into the corner with your finger, smoothing things down and finally trimming the crease with a sharp knife to make a smart looking edge.

Do a similar thing at the bottom by your skirting boards, let the paper hang beyond them, push into place and then cut away any excess with a sharp knife. At this point, you can smooth out any bubbles by using a brush or sponge and brushing from the centre out.

Your next lengths can be hung by aligning them to the original as a guide. Continue the process, making sure to wipe off any excess wallpaper paste with a brush.

how to hang wallpaper

Stage 3: Doors, Windows, Switches

The third step of learning how to hang wallpaper is dealing with doors, use the same kind of approach as at the tops and bottoms. Let the wallpaper hang over door frames and push it into the corners with your fingers and cut off a sharp join afterwards.

With light switches first turn off the electricity at the mains and loosen the light switch from the wall. What you can do then is hang the paper over the switch making sure it is flush. Then using your fingers feel where the four corners of the switch are and mark them with a pencil. Now using a pencil, you can make a hole in the middle of the corners and then use some scissors cut out the area for the switch making sure this is a little smaller than the actual fitting.

Now pop the socket through the hole that you have just made carefully using a spatula or similar tool to prevent any ripping. Flatten things out and screw the socket back onto the wall smoothing the areas around the switch to make sure that there aren’t any bubbles.

Stage 4: Radiators and Corners

Wallpaper hanger is using a penknife to cut excess paper off.

Dealing with radiators is made much easier with a radiator roller. Cut the paper to allow it to hang over the radiator by 10-15cms. Then from above take your radiator roller and force the paper to go behind the radiator carefully making sure there aren’t any creases.

For corners, the easiest way is to paper around the corner first let the paper wrap around the whole corner by around an inch. Then apply the paper to the other edge and allow it to overlap also, firming it in place. You should now be able to trim along the edge to make a nice finish carefully.

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