How To Wallpaper Like A Pro

If you have decided to paper your walls , measure up, work out quantities and choose your wallcovering, not forgetting a suitable paste with which to hang it. Prepare the wall surface as previously described and assemble the necessary tools and pasting table.

If the wall surface is poor, the wall was previously distempered, you have some other ‘difficult’ surface to contend with -or possibly you have bought a very special wallcovering which you want to hang with very special care – you will need to cross-line the walls first with a fairly thick lining paper.

To line the walls

Start hanging from the top corner at one end of the room, working parallel to the ceiling. Cut the lengths of paper to the width of the wall, allowing about 12 mm { inch extra to continue round the corner onto the next wall. Butt each length of paper on each wall right into the corner. Cut, paste and hang as for ordinary paper- except working horizontally. Leave the lining paper to dry out for at least 24 hours.

Papering ceilings

Fortunately, it is not usually necessary to re-paper ceilings every time you decorate – but if you are planning complete redecoration, paper the ceiling before the walls. Make sure you can reach it adequately by using two ladders and a scaffold board if necessary. Work away from the window. Traditionally, paper is hung parallel to the window wall, but you can hang the paper at right-angles to this wall, if it will be easier and mean that you are handling a shorter length of paper.

Mark a chalk lincjust less than the width of the paper across the ceiling. Cut the lengths of paper, paste – folding the paper into a series of’S’ or concertina folds as you go -then allow the paper to become supple. Use the same pasting technique as for pasting wallpaper. Part of an unpasted roll, or a proper paper holder or broomhead can be used to support the bulk of the paper.

Open the first fold from the corner and, keeping the paper butting to the guide line, open and brush the paper into position against the ceiling as you walk along the scaffold board – take care when you are-doing this. Brush the paper firmly into the angle between wall and ceiling and leave the slight overlap on cornice/wall edge for trimming. When the first length of paper is up, trim the overlap from the long side then the short ends, using scissors or a knife. Hang the next piece of paper to butt up to, and parallel to, the first piece, and continue in this manner until the ceiling is completely papered.

Hanging ordinary wallpapers and wall-coverings

First unwrap the rolls of paper. If you have bought extra, don’t unwrap the ones you might not need. You will have checked that they all come from the same batch number when buying : now check them for ‘shading’ I.e. make sure they are all the same colour. Sometimes rolls of paper have been exposed to sunlight and may have faded or, even if they come from the same batch number, the printing machine may have printed the ink too thickly and the fault may not have been noted at inspection stage. Once you are satisfied that all is well, you can start!

If the paper is quite plain or has a small pattern, start papering beside a window and work towards the door. Try to finish in the darkest corner, so that if there are any slight mistakes in pattern matching they won’t be too obvious. If the paper has a large design, centre this on the focal point of the room. This is usually the fireplace, in which case make sure that the central motif comes dead centre of the chimney-breast.

Cutting the lengths – having worked out where the first piece will be positioned, and measured the wall from ceiling to skirting board, trim the end of the roll before cutting the first length so that the pattern will start at the top of the wall after allowing a spare 5 cm for final trimming. This is particularly important with a large or bold design; there is nothing worse than a bold motif, or a bird, flower or animal with its head chopped off at the ceiling. It may mean wasting a few feet of paper from each roll cut, but you should allow for this when estimating the quantity required.

Cut the required length from the roll, allowing that extra 5 cm top and bottom for trimming. Measure the next length, and line up with the first one before cutting to make quite sure the pattern matches. Continue in this way for the rest of the paper, but check and measure the wall at intervals to allow for any slight change in ceiling height – no room is ever truly square.

Match the pattern each time, wasting a strip of paper if necessary; number each piece on the back as you cut it and indicate which is the top, with an arrow, so you don’t accidentally reverse the lengths.

Pasting. When you have cut sufficient lengths, prepare the paste according to the manufacturer’s instructions, using the recommended adhesive for your wallcovering. Lay the first length of paper face down on the pasting table and, using the paste brush, apply the paste down the centre back, working out towards the edge herringbone-fashion. Make sure that the paste evenly covers the back of the paper and goes right to the edges but does not mark the front. Keep a damp cloth ready for wiping over the surface of the pasting board after each length is pasted, to avoid marking the next one. Fold the paper, pasted surfaces together, with a large fold at the top and smaller one at the bottom. For long lengths, fold concertina fashion. Allow the paste to soak in for a tew minutes until the paper is supple. With thick paper you can paste 2 or 3 lengths before hanging, so long as you remember which was pasted first. Ensure all lengths soak for approximately the same amount of time.

Hanging. As few walls are perfectly vertical, mark a vertical line on the wall using a plumb line and chalk. Coat the line with chalk, pin it to the top of the wall and allow it to hang plumb. At the skirting, hold the plumb bob with one hand, so the string is taut, pluck the string with the other and let it ‘twang’ back against the wall. This should leave a perfectly vertical chalk mark on the wall. Hang the first length against this line: fold the prepared paper over your arm, take it to the wall and – starting at the top of the wall -unfold the top end of paper and position the top edge at the top of the wall, allowing that spare 5 cm at the ceiling line for trimming. Slide the paper into position so that the edge butts exactly to the vertical line.

Using the paper-hanging brush, smooth down the centre of the paper and work with herringbone strokes outwards and downwards, unfolding the bottom half as you go. Make sure the brush strokes are firm enough to remove any wrinkles or air bubbles. Then, at the ceiling ‘knock’ the paper into the angle, using the cut edge of the bristles. Mark the cutting line by drawing the back of the scissors across the paper at ceiling height. Trim off with the scissors following the creased line, which may mean you have to peel the paper back a little from the top of the wall. Make sure that you brush it back firmly once you have trimmed the top – if necessary apply a little more paste before doing so. Run the scissors along the bottom of the paper at skirting level and repeat the trimming process. Give the paper a final brush over. Then, with a damp sponge, remove any paste sticking to the front of the paper. Repeat with the next strip of paper – butt it up to the first strip, keeping it vertical and aligning the pattern.

Should wrinkles or air bubbles appear, carefully peel the paper back from the wall and rebrush into position. The paper remains perfectly pliable for quite a long time, so don’t be afraid to peel it back more than once if necessary. Small wrinkles and air bubbles should disappear on drying. When paper is over-painted, these bubbles reappear, but again should lie flat on drying. If the paper is not embossed or textured, use a seam roller to gently flatten the joins – do not roll embossed or textured ones.

Continue papering in this manner until you get near a corner. You should never try to hang a full width of paper round a corner because it only results in creasing, so measure the distance from the edge of the last piece of paper into the corner at several points down the wall, to find the greatest width. Add I cm to the widest measurement and cut the length of paper to this width, carefully reserving the off-cut. Paste, hang and firmly smooth the paper into the corner, tapping the cut edge of the bristles into the angle. Trim so that a uniform I cm overlap occurs all down the wall.

Mark a vertical line the same distance from the corner as the width of the paper off-cut. Paste the strip and hang it with the right edge to this line, so that the left-hand edge fits into the corner, slightly covering the overlap from the previous piece. Continue hanging strips of paper as before. NOTE: if you have an external corner a full width of paper can be taken round this, so long as the corner is plumb, but again, it quite often is not. If not, cut a 5 cm overlap and take this round the corner. Hang the next piece to overlap this, as plumb as possible to the edge. You cannot overlap vinyl wallcoverings in this way.

Coping with obstacles – no room is composed entirely of flat walls – you will have to cope with obstacles such as doors, windows, light switches, electric sockets and so on.

If you come to a door and there is only a narrow strip between the last length and the frame, it is best to treat it like a corner, measuring, cutting and starting again with the off-cut over the top of the door. If the distance between the last length and the door frame is just short of a roll width, it will be more convenient to hang the length and to brush it into the side of the door frame, then mark the outline of the door frame with a pencil, and cut away the surplus paper down the side and at the top of the door.

At the window, paper the sides and overhead first, using the corner technique to paper recesses.

Light switches and power points are not difficult to cope with, but always switch off the electricity at the mains first, then unscrew the switch cover, tuck the paper down behind, making a small hole for the switch, and screw the cover back. NOTE: never put a foil wallcovering behind, or too close to a switch plate as it could conduct the electricity.

When switches and points are fixed, you will have to cope differently. Brush the paper down as tar as you can and press it against the fitting. Pierce the paper at the centre of the fitting and make four diagonal cuts from the centre to the corners, so that the fitting juts out through the centre of the cuts in the paper. Brush the paper round the fitting, mark the outline in pencil and trim away the surplus. For a round switch, make a series of star-shaped cuts. This technique can also be used for ceiling roses.

Ready-pasted papers don’t need pasting. Simply measure, match and cut the lengths as for ordinary paper. Roll up each length loosely from the bottom, with the pattern on the inside.

Place the water trough at the base of the wall and immerse the cut length in the water for the recommended time. Slowly pull the top end of the length of paper up the wall, letting it unwind in the water so that surplus water runs back into the trough.

Position the length on the wall, slide into place, and brush out using the paper hangers’ brush. Mark and trim as previously described. Continue, using the same techniques as for hanging ordinary papers and wallcoverings, to go round obstacles, cope with corners and so on.

Paste-the-wall products

If this method is appropriate for your wallcovering, use the recommended adhesive to paste the wall, using a roller or brush, and covering an area a little wider than the width of the wallcovering. Work from the bottom to the top of the wall and make sure the paste is evenly spread.

With the light polyethylene type of wallcovering you can work straight from the roll, without pre-cutting the lengths. With a heavier wallcovering you will have to cut the lengths first. Start at the top of the wall, position the first width as previously described and slide into place over the paste. Unroll, or unfold, smoothing into position as previously described. Trim top and bottom with a sharp knife or scissors, and continue with the next width, matching the pattern, and brushing out the wrinkles and air bubbles. Use a seam roller if necessary.

Hanging other wallcoverings

Some other specialist wallcoverings may need a different technique, including reversing lengths, although the basic principles are still the same. You will normally find full instructions supplied with the product. With the heavier ‘contoured’ vinyls for example, you can paste the back or some people prefer to paste the wall. You will need to use a heavy-duty roller to smooth it back flat to the wall.

How To Wallpaper Like A Pro