Decorating Preparation: Sripping Wallpaper

It is never wise to hang new paper over a previous covering. The two layers of adhesive may react together, causing both layers of paper to peel off. Also old joins may show through the new paper.

While there are commercially produced paper-strippers that hasten the job, most wallpaper can be removed after it has been thoroughly soaked with water. Start at the bottom of the area, and, with a distemper brush, scrub and soak the paper.

As work progresses, the area first treated should become removable. Repeated treatment may be necessary on thick papers or where adhesion is strong. The soaking-off process can be helped, on washable or particularly tough surfaces, by scoring the surface to allow the water to soak in. Over large areas it may be worthwhile to hire a steam-stripper.

Stripping is done with a broad-bladed stripping knife. Care should be taken not to dig the knife into the plaster as blemishes will need filling. Once the wall is stripped, wash it with a sponge and warm water and allow the area to dry. Before starting the next stage, ensure that any rough projections are rubbed down with glass-paper.


A roll of wallpaper is 10m long by 520mm wide. Continental papers may be narrower and special papers are available in nonstandard sizes.

A standard roll of paper will cover an area of 5m2. More paper must be allowed for pattern matching and cutting in. Machine-printed papers are usually supplied ready trimmed. If not, the unprinted ‘selvedge’ on each side should be cut off with a trimming knife and a metal-edged ruler. These papers can usually be trimmed when purchasing as most decorating shops have a trimming machine which will trim the paper in minutes.


When calculating the amount of paper that will be needed for an area, always allow extra to ensure that there will be enough to complete the job. For large patterns this could add 610mm to the length of each run.

With a very expensive paper, it is necessary to measure accurately the precise amount of paper that will be needed. Divide the walls into 520mm widths round the room. Count the number of widths and multiply this figure by the height of the paper required. When using this method, remember to allow for pattern matching.

An alternative is to measure the entire distance round the room, including doors and windows. While less detailed, this allows for wastage in pattern matching.

First, measure the height of the room from the skirting board to ceiling. Divide the length of a roll of paper (10m) by the height of the room. A room with a height of 2.44m will allow four lengths to a roll.

Measure the distance all round the room and divide the total figure by the width of a roll. Divide this figure by the number of lengths to give the total number of rolls needed.

Rooms with ceilings that may differ in height over the area, or stairwells, should be measured by the first method, establishing the differing heights and adding the totals to find the paper required.

10. November 2011 by admin
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