If your walls could talk, what would they say? With the right choice of wallpaper, you’re in charge of the message.
Wallpapering a room can change its entire look and feel – no expensive interior decorator required. It’s less messy than painting the walls, making it a suitable DIY project for the hands-on homeowner. There are so many colours, patterns and finishes available that you’ll have complete creative control over the outcome. This step-by-step guide covers how to measure for wallpaper, estimating how much you’ll need and even how to hang lining paper. Follow the instructions to get from beginning to end like a pro.
Ready? Let’s get started
You’re keen to get started on your wallpapering project, but some careful consideration is needed first. Review the space in question: what is its primary purpose? If it’s a busy area like a child’s bedroom or playroom, think about the maintenance required. Frequent messes and moving furniture will lead to your wallpaper requiring more maintenance than usual. If the room is small and doesn’t get a lot of natural light, dark colours and big patterns will emphasise this. On the other hand, wallpaper exposed to sunlight for long periods of time is likely to fade. In these cases, papering just one ‘accent wall’ is a good alternative.
Once you’ve settled on what’s right for your home, calculate how much wallpaper you will need.
Start by figuring out the area by multiplying wall length by wall height. Then calculate how much wall area is lost to other features such as doors and windows, and won’t require papering. Minus the second sum from the first sum to reach your total wallpapering area. Here’s the same information, broken down:
Length x height
Window = height x width x number of windows
Door = height x width x number of doors
Wall area - lost area
Once you’ve established the wallpapering area, check the total surface area of each roll. Buy enough rolls to cover the wallpapering area x 1.15 – you’ll need the extra 15% to account for accidents or wastage.
Get the room ready by emptying it of clutter and covering unmovable furniture with a protective cloth. If you can’t find a protective cloth, old bed sheets will do the trick. Don’t rush this step – the last thing you want is wallpaper glue splattered over mirrors and precious soft furnishings.
Review this checklist for the tools and products you’ll need before beginning:
- Adhesive paste
- Sponge roller
- Spirit level
- Sponge and bucket of water
- Tape measure
- Small putty knife
Step 1: Apply masking tape over any plug sockets, switches or other areas that won’t be covered in wallpaper.
Step 2: Remove all existing wallpaper. Depending on the age of the wallpaper and what your walls are made of, this might require soaking for up to 30 minutes. If you’re not sure what lies underneath the wallpaper, spot test a section first.
Step 3: Once the wall has been stripped, make sure it’s clear from residue and dry.
Take your time when preparing the wallpaper for application. Any mistakes made will be painstaking and time-consuming to fix.
If the surface of your wall is bumpy, you’ll need wallpaper lining. Lining provides a smooth, even surface and strengthens your walls. Apply the lining as instructed on the packaging, and let it dry completely.
It’s now time to line up the wallpaper. If you’re using a plain colour without a print you can simply start at one end and work your way around. If you’re using printed wallpaper, start from the room’s focal point – this could be the fireplace – and move outwards in each direction, matching up the pattern as you go.
Once lined up and cut to size, start applying adhesive to your wallpaper. Give it a moment to become tacky to make it easier to work with.
Now comes the most rewarding part of putting up wallpaper. To avoid hanging wallpaper askew, draw a vertical line and start from this point, working your way around.
When positioning wallpaper strips of any size, work down and outwards from one corner. Place it on the wall, applying slow and steady pressure with the roller to remove air bubbles. You should have a little extra paper at the bottom that you can trim. Hang on to these trimmings, as they could come in handy when tidying up future nicks.
Here’s what to do when you reach the tricky bits:
- Doorways: Hang your wallpaper from the top of the wall and smooth it downwards until you meet the top of the door’s mouldings – also called the architrave. Make a diagonal cut and then push the wallpaper against the corner. Press the wallpaper firmly along the architrave and trim any excess paper.
- Windows: Treat a windowsill as you would a door, making a diagonal cut when you reach corners and press the paper into the angle, trimming any waste at the crease.
- Light switches and power sockets: Turn your electricity off at the mains so no power is coming through. Hang your wallpaper as normal, but make diagonal cuts from the centre of the switch plate to the corners, leaving an extra half a centimetre. Loosen the switch plate screws so that you can push the edges of the paper underneath. Tighten the screws again and when the paper has dried, restore the power.
Congratulations, you’ve almost completed wallpapering your room. While you’re probably keen to get started on another room – or just to have a cup of tea and a sit down – there’s one more step. Use a brush and roller to apply a specially formulated clear glaze that will protect your wallpaper. Once that’s done, you really can step back and admire your handiwork.
When it comes to cleaning dust and grime from your wallpaper, always test a section to see how it reacts first. In most cases, applying a diluted soapy solution with a moist sponge will get the job done.