Ready to transform your space? Here’s how to hang your wallpaper like a pro.
Wallpapering, whether it’s a feature wall, an alcove or the entire room, might seem like a daunting task – especially if you’re new to it. But there’s no need to procrastinate, it’s not as scary as it seems! Our guide will take you through everything you need to know about hanging wallpaper, step-by-step. It’ll also help you with common questions, like how to wallpaper behind radiators and around sockets.
Not ready to hang your wallpaper just yet? Check out our wallpaper buying guide.
What you need for wallpapering:
- Rolls of wallpaper
- Wallpaper paste or adhesive (we recommend using ‘Solvite Paste The Wall Wallpaper Adhesive’ with our wallpaper)
- A pasting brush or roller
- Wallpaper smoother, brush or clean cloth
- Wallpaper seam roller
- Sharp scissors or knife
- Plumb line, spirit level or laser level
- Dust sheets
For wall prep you may need:
- A stripping knife or a wallpaper steamer
Make sure the room is well ventilated while you work and while the wallpaper dries.
If you’re working at height (i.e. high ceilings or stairwells) get someone to help you.
Don’t forget to keep any adhesives, sharp objects or chemicals out of the reach of children.
How to wallpaper step-by-step
product: demoiselle wallpaper in mustard
- Preparing the room
Preparation is a key step to any home décor endeavour. For a finished effect you can be proud of, your walls need to be as clean and smooth as possible.
- Remove any existing wallpaper – use a steamer or a cloth soaked in hot water to loosen stubborn areas.
- Remove nails, screws, brackets, etc. and fill in the holes. Ideally, remove radiators and any light fittings too, but you can work around these.
- Fill in any other cracks or holes, and sand them down to a smooth finish once dry.
- Switch off the electricity mains and remove any socket/switch covers.
- Sand down any rough areas until smooth.
- Use a sponge to clean the walls with warm water and mild soap (allow the walls to dry for a minimum of 24 hours)
- Use dust sheets to cover the floor, doors or furniture – cover up anything you don’t want to get paint on.
Different wall surfaces:
Freshly painted walls should be left for 4 weeks before wallpaper application (please refer to the paint manufacturer's instructions for guidance). If it’s a gloss or silk paint, sand your walls down and apply a primer. If it’s a matt paint, wash walls as above and leave to dry for 24 hours.
Porous Surface e.g. Plaster, Cement render
Ensure old plaster is stable and free of mould. If it’s new plaster, make sure it’s completely dry. Cement render/concrete should be sanded smooth. Seal the wall with a primer or diluted paste. Allow the primer to completely dry as this will stop the paste being absorbed during installation.
Fill in any screw holes and joints between plasterboards. Smooth and seal the wall with a primer or diluted paste. Allow the primer to completely dry, as similar to above, it will stop paste being absorbed during installation.
- Measuring your walls & cutting the wallpaper
Measure the length of your wall – preferably a spot where there are no switches or sockets. Add 20 centimetres to your measurement and cut your wallpaper to size.
- Where to start wallpapering
There are generally two choices when it comes to the starting point of wallpapering – the corner, or a central point.
The general rule is that if you have a large pattern on your wallpaper, then you should start in the middle of the wall. This ensures that the pattern looks symmetrical. If you have a focal point like a fireplace or chimney breast, the central point of this is where you should start.
If you have a smaller pattern, start in the corner of the room. Choose an inconspicuous corner or behind a door, so any pattern mismatch will go unnoticed.
Wherever you start, use a plumb line, spirit level or laser level to make sure that your wallpaper hangs straight. Unfortunately many homes have wonky ceilings and walls, so you can’t trust that either will be straight! Draw your straight line on your wall – this is your guide line for the first strip.
You’ll need to set a new straight line for each wall.
- Pasting the wall
Use your brush or roller to apply your paste to the surface of your wall. Start at the top and work your way down, applying the paste in thin, even layers.
Make sure you’re covering the full width of the wallpaper strip plus 2cm to make sure your seams are pasted down – and you don’t have to get too close to the already-hung wallpaper when pasting your next strip.
- Hanging paste-the-wall wallpaper
The beauty of paste-the-wall wallpaper is that it gives you time to position and manoeuvre your strips. Position your wallpaper straight against your straight guide line and apply to the wall, making sure that you have excess at both the top and the bottom of the wall. If you’re not happy, peel off and reposition.
- Smoothing the wallpaper
Smooth the wallpaper from the centre using your smoother tool or a clean cloth. If your wallpaper creases, try smoothing it out again, or if that doesn’t work, you may have to reposition the strip.
furn team tip:
Use a clean, damp cloth to wipe away excess paste!
- Trimming the wallpaper
Trim the excess at the top and bottom of your wallpaper strip using a ruler to smooth the strip into the corner, and a sharp knife or one edge of your scissors to cut. Make sure your blade is sharp otherwise you risk tearing your wallpaper.
- Repeat the process
Do the same again for the rest of the room, making sure the seams line up, and are smooth against the wall. Don’t rush it – slow and steady wins the wallpapering race!
Common wallpapering questions
product: plantain wallpaper in green
How to wallpaper a ceiling
Wallpapering the ceiling is not an easy task. It’s done length-wise and away from the window. It’s generally the same process of prepping, measuring, cutting, pasting, hanging and trimming, but it’s made more difficult by the simple fact that you’re working overhead.
To make it as easy as possible, get someone to help you! They can help support the wallpaper as you hang it. A platform like a board between two ladders will give you a base to work from, and a laser level means that you don’t have to draw on the ceiling.
How to wallpaper around a window
Wallpapering around a window is easy once you know how! Once you’ve made your way over to the window, hang a strip that overlaps it. Feel for the corners of the window and mark it with a pencil.
Cut the paper horizontally straight across to the pencil mark, so you have a flap that you can smooth on to the vertical side of the window recess. Trim to make it neat.
For the top underside of the window recess, you can either wallpaper with a new strip from the top of the wall (not forgetting to pattern match) or add another piece underneath the existing wallpaper.
Under the window the usual process taking care to pattern match.
For windows with trim, simply cut the wallpaper at a 45 degree angle from the edge of the wallpaper toward the corner of the trim. You can then smooth out the wallpaper and trim using your ruler and knife.
How to wallpaper corners
When it comes to corners, you want to have a 2.5cm overlap. First, measure the distance between the last strip you hung to the corner. Add 2.5cm to this measurement, and cut a strip of wallpaper to this width. This will give you your overlap.
Hang this piece as you would normally, smoothing it over around the corner and onto the adjacent wall. Trim the paper at the top and bottom.
Then, set a straight line for the adjacent wall with your plumb line, and use that to hang your next strip. Push it into the corner, overlapping the 2.5cm that you smoothed over on this wall. Pattern match as much as you can for a neat finish.
You could take this a step further, and slice through both layers of wallpaper after the overlap. Remove the surplus from each layer and smooth down – you should be left with a perfect seam.
How to hang wallpaper without seams showing
The best way to prevent seams showing when wallpapering is to take it slow and be meticulous in your application. You must make sure that your wall is as smooth and primed as possible, that you’re using the right adhesive or paste and that you’ve applied enough to the wall.
To fix lifting seams after you’ve finished, use a small amount of adhesive and a small brush to carefully stick the wallpaper back down.
How to wallpaper a feature wall
When you’re wallpapering a feature wall, you should take your pattern into account. If it’s a small pattern, feel free to start from one side. In this case, use your plumb line or spirit level to draw out your straight line around 50cm from the corner, and start your wallpapering from there.
If it’s a large pattern, start from the middle of the wall. The process is the same, except you have to make sure that it’s centralised.
We recommend painting the edges of the wall first in a colour that matches your wallpaper or the same as the rest of your room. This way, if the corners aren’t exact, then they’re camouflaged.
How to hang patterned wallpaper
Intricately patterned wallpaper can feel like a bigger job, purely because you have to match each strip to the previous one. The key here is to not cut your wallpaper strips in advance. It feels like a time saver, but it can mean that your pattern doesn’t match up and your wallpaper strips are virtually unusable.
Instead take it steady, and create each strip as you go. Make sure that you still leave yourself plenty of wallpaper at the top and bottom to create that neat edge.
How to wallpaper around sockets and light switches
It’s easy once you know how! As part of your preparation stage, you should have turned off the electricity and removed the switch and socket covers.
So hang your wallpaper as normal, covering the socket or switch. You should be able to feel them easily through the wallpaper. Use your knife or scissors to cut a cross that sits in the centre of the switch or socket. From there, you can extend the cross cut to near the edges of the socket. Remember to leave some overlap so your socket or switch will cover it.
Remove any superfluous paper, and stick the remaining down wallpaper paste. Leave to dry for at least 30 minutes, put the cover back on and then reconnect the electricity.
How to wallpaper behind a radiator
Ideally, you’d remove any radiators before you start wallpapering, but that can be a tricky job in itself. If you can’t remove the radiators, then make sure it’s switched off and cooled down. Heat can prevent the wallpaper paste or adhesive from drying evenly. Grab a (feather) duster and clean behind the radiator as far as you can.
Have a look at where the bracket connecting your radiator to the wall sits in relation to the ridges on the front of your radiator. Count them from the nearest edge and make a note of the number.
Then, apply the paste or adhesive as evenly as possible – you’ll need a slim, long-handled roller to get behind the radiator. Hang the wallpaper and let it cover the front of the radiator.
Count the number of ridges to where the bracket sits and mark it with pencil on your wallpaper. Cut along this pencil line from the bottom of the wallpaper up to the top of where the bracket will start.
Lift your wallpaper up above the radiator and, using a clean long-handled roller, start to push each section down behind it. Once it’s as far down as it can go, reach up from the bottom of the radiator and pull it down. Smooth out as much as you can, and connect the seams underneath the radiator.
product in header image and thumbnail: kindred wallpaper in terracotta / coral