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How to hang wallpaper: an expert guide

Fool-proof tips to get it right first time, from pasting tips to pattern repeats. Plus, the essential DIY kit you need for the job

wallcoverings shoot styling kiera buckley jones photography by beth evans
Beth Evans

While wallpaper is a brilliant way to bring personality to a space, the act of actually hanging it can inspire dread in even the most seasoned decorator. For our definitive guide to stress-free application, we've asked the experts what you should know before you pull out the paste, from the number you need to work out how much to buy to conquering corners and sockets.

How to hang wallpaper

Where do I begin?

First, work out how much wallpaper you need. Measure the width of the room and divide by 53cm (the width of a standard roll). This calculates the number of drops. Then multiply by the height of the room (allowing an extra 10cm).

‘Once you know the wall height, cut a drop of wallpaper, leaving a few extra centimetres at the top and bottom for trimming,’ advises wallpaper designer Abigail Edwards. Also, make sure that all rolls have the same batch number so there’s no colour variation.

Where do I hang my first drop?

‘From the left-hand side, measure 50cm and make a pencil mark – that’s your starting point,’ says Abby Hesketh, paint and colour specialist at Graham & Brown, who suggests beginning with the second drop from the corner. If the wallpaper has a large pattern, hang the first length over a fireplace or other focal point and work outwards. ‘Don’t use the edge of the wall as a guide – they are rarely straight,’ continues Edwards. ‘I use a plumb line to mark a vertical.’

How do I line up pattern repeats?

‘Find two points of the design – such as a leaf or animal – and look for these elements each time,’ says Raymond Goodheart, archivist at Cole & Son. ‘This will help ensure that you are correctly lining up the pattern.’ For Edwards, planning ahead helps. ‘I prepare a few drops in advance by laying the paper on the floor to make sure the pattern lines up. I find this easier than cutting lengths of wallpaper whilst pattern-matching on the wall,’ she says.

wallcoverings shoot styling kiera buckley jonesphotography by beth evans
Beth Evans

Mural wallcoverings need just as much care. ‘Murals often need to be trimmed from the sides, top and bottom to fit the space so it’s important to work out the positioning before any cuts are made,’ explains Philippe Desart, managing director of wallcovering manufacturer Arte.

What about pasting?

Check whether the wallpaper is traditional – in which case you’ll need to paste each drop – or paste the wall. For the latter, ‘apply paste a couple of centimetres wider than the wallpaper so you can hang the second drop without getting paste on the first section,’ continues Hesketh.

Use a wallpaper brush to smooth out any air bubbles, brushing from the centre outwards. Textured wallcoverings often need to be prepped differently. For instance, Arte’s metallic foil is moistened with cold water on the non-woven backing, which has to soak in for 10 minutes before a low-water adhesive is applied to the wall.

Anything else to consider?

Corners and sockets can be tricky. For the former, the key is to brush the wallpaper into the corner and around it. ‘There is a good chance the corner will not be perfectly vertical. You will only need to go around the corner with the paper by approximately 2-3cm, or until the wall is vertical again,’ says Hesketh.

For sockets, turn off the electrics, pull away from the wall and smooth the paper over it. ‘Mark the corners of the socket on the paper and score an “X” diagonally joining the corners. Cut along the lines that form the “X” and peel back to reveal the socket. Excess paper can be pushed behind the socket fitting for a seamless finish.’


SIX USEFUL PIECES OF KIT

THE ADHESIVE

Arte’s ‘Clearpro’ adhesive is for non-woven wallcoverings and fabric-backed wallcoverings. £35 for 5kg, janeclayton.co.uk

THE SCISSORS

‘Prep Stainless Steel Wallpaper Scissors’ make it easy to cut wallpaper on a flat surface. £5.14, toolstation.com

THE PASTING TABLE

For traditional wallpaper, an old-school pasting table is crucial. £12, diy.com

THE PASTING BRUSH

The ‘Harris Seriously Good Paste Brush’ is perfect for applying –and spreading – wallpaper paste. £6.99, grahambrown.com

THE AIR BUBBLE BRUSH

Get rid of any air bubbles with a wallpaper brush from Lick. £9, lickhome.com

THE SEAM SMOOTHER

Smooth wallpaper seams for more invisible joins with the ‘Hamilton Perfection Wooden Seam Roller’. £7.49, leylandsdm.co.uk


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