How to Wallpaper

Image shows the corner of a room with a white and brown patterned wall and a large window. In the room is a set of bunk-beds and a rug showing a lions face.

What you’ll need:

  • Pencil
  • Spirit Level
  • Ruler
  • Roller and Tray
  • Tape Measure
  • Scissors
  • Smoothing Tool
  • Craft Knife
  • Sponge
  • Stepladders
  • Wallpaper Paste
  • Bench or Table (only if using paste-the-paper wallpaper)
  • Nice brew


As always, step one with this process is to prepare your space. Ensure all old wallpaper is completely gone and that the walls are clean and smooth. Fill in any gaps with filler and smooth off as needed.

If the walls are freshly plastered, you’ll need to add a coat of wall-sealer onto them to ensure the paper adheres to the new plaster and dries properly.

Wash the walls with sugar soap and allow them to dry thoroughly.

If you’re using a lining paper, hang this the opposite way to your wallpaper to ensure there are no gaps. Therefore, if your wallpaper needs to be hung vertically (as the majority do), hang the lining paper horizontally. Lining paper can help prevent shrinkage in your paper and reduce gaps between sheets, so it’s always a good idea to use this.

Ensure that all fixings and anything which can be removed from the walls, (excluding lights, light fittings, plug sockets and radiators) has been removed.

Then, ensure you have enough paper for the whole job and that it’s from the same batch.

If you’re doing a whole room, it’s always a good idea to start from a discreet corner, while if you’re only doing a single wall, you should start from the centre and work your way outwards.

Marking and starting

Mark the starting place and, using the spirit level, draw a line to indicate your starting point.

Measure and cut the paper, allowing enough room at each end for a slight overhang you’ll trim off and noting any pattern or feature on the paper that you may want in a specific place on the wall.

Following the manufacturers instructions, mix the wallpaper paste in a bucket and pour out onto the paint tray.

Paste-the-wall paper

Paste-the-wall paper is a less messy alternative to the paper you have to apply the paste to directly. If this is what you’ve purchased, add a thin, even layer of paste to the wall against your measurement, completely covering the area you’re going to put the paper.

Paste-the-paper paper

If you’ve purchased paper which needs the paste applying directly to it, you’ll need to lay the paper, face down, onto a wallpapering table or another suitable flat surface, ensuring that it’s clean and dry before laying the paper out. Apply an even layer to the whole paper and fold it up into a concertina and allow it to soak (see picture below). The manufacturers’ instructions will advise on how long you’ll need to do this for.

image shows a large piece of paper patterned into a concertina

Applying the paper

Apply the paper to the wall, and line it up to the correct space. Position it straight and once it’s into position, use a brush and/or sponge to smooth the paper, working from the centre to the edges. Once all air bubbles are gone, use a craft knife or trimming wheel to remove the top and bottom in line with the ceiling and skirting.

Image shows a wooden rod being held against a piece of patterned paper

Repeat this process throughout the room or area you’re looking to cover and take your time to get it right and you’ll soon have a beautifully decorated space!

Papering around features

The above information applies to flat surfaces, but when you come up against obstacles, such as light fittings, switches and plugs, you’ll need to know how to navigate your way around them to still get a beautiful finish. Read on…

Firstly, isolate any power that goes to the obstacle. Then let the paper sit over the switch or fitting and mark all corners. If the object is circular, mark the edges and use a compass to draw the circle onto the paper. Then make a hole at the centre of the shape and cut outwards, allowing a small overhang, as below.

If the object is circular, make a number of cuts towards the edge giving you segments:

Once you have an adequately sized hole, paste either the paper or the wall around the object and fit it in, before trimming away all excess paper.

Image shows a two-plug socket surrounded by paper and a pair of hands cutting the paper evenly around the plug socket.

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