How to Hang Wallpaper
Papering a Room – How to Hang Wallpaper
Although most people have few qualms about picking up a paintbrush, wallpapering seems to be far more daunting — a strange reaction when you consider that so much effort has gone into making things easy for us. All but hand-printed papers are ready trimmed to width, they are colour-fast, they won’t stretch or tear provided you exercise a little care, and ready-mixed or liquid pastes remove all that worry about lumpy mixes.
Described here are the skills you need for papering a small bedroom with at least one window, a fireplace and one door, but once you have mastered these basic techniques you can wallpaper a room of any size.
A weekend should give you plenty of time — an experienced decorator can usually finish papering a small room in a day — assuming you have already stripped and filled the plasterwork, and either washed down the old paintwork or applied fresh paint the weekend before. Similarly, you will have either painted the ceiling with emulsion or already have hung new ceiling paper.
- Craft knife
- Paperhanger’s brush
- Paperhanger’s scissors
- Paste brush
- Pasting table
- Seam roller
- Smoothing roller
- Tape measure
Choosing the right paste
Most wallpaper pastes are supplied in liquid form, or as powder or flakes for mixing with water.
Standard wallpaper paste is suitable for most lightweight to medium-weight papers. If you add less water, you can use it for hanging heavyweight papers.
This is specially prepared for hanging embossed papers, paper-backed fabrics and other heavyweight wall-coverings.
Most pastes contain a fungicide to prevent mould growth under impervious wall-coverings such as vinyls, washable papers and foamed-plastic coverings.
Tubs of ready-mixed thixotropic paste are specially made for hanging heavyweight wall-coverings.
Use a liquid wallpaper paste to avoid any possibility of a lumpy mix.
This paste is sold in tubes for sticking down peeling edges and corners. It evenvinyl to vinyl.
Many wall-coverings come precoated withthat is activated by soaking a cut length in a trough of cold water. Mix some ordinary paste to recoat dry edges.
Pasting the Paper
You can use any wipe-clean table for pasting, put a narrow fold-up pasting table is a good investment if you are going to do a lot of decorating.
- Lay several cut lengths of paper face down on the table, to . Tuck the ends under a length of string tied loosely round the table legs to stop the paper rolling up while you are pasting. Use a large, soft wall brush or pasting brush to apply the paste. Mix the paste in a plastic bucket and tie string across the rim to support the brush, keeping its handle clean while you hang the paper.
- Align the wallpaper with the far edge of the table, so there will be no paste on the table to be transferred to the face of the paper. Apply the paste by brushing away from the centre, pasting the edges carefully and removing any lumps. If you prefer, apply the paste with a short-pile paint roller, pouring the paste into a roller tray and rolling in one direction only towards the end of the paper.
- Pull the wall-covering to the front edge of the table and paste the other half. Fold the pasted end over — don’t press it down — and slide the length along the table in order to expose the next unpasted part.
- Paste the other end, then fold it over to almost meet the first cut end. The second fold is invariably deeper than the first — a good way to denote the bottom of patterned wall-coverings. Fold long drops concertina-fashion.
Leave the paper to soak
Drape pasted paper over a broom handle spanning two chair backs, and leave them to soak. Some heavy coverings may need to soak for about 15 minutes. Hang vinyls and lightweight papers immediately.
Where to start
You may find it easiest to paper the longest uninterrupted wall to get used to the basic techniques before tackling corners or obstructions. Hang the first length of paper near one corner, and work away from the prevailing light.
Working with bold patterns
If your wall-covering has a large regular motif, centre the first length over the fireplace for symmetry. Alternatively, centre this first length between two windows, unless you will be left with narrow strips each side, in which case it’s best to butt two lengths on the centre line.
Trimming and Cutting
Most wall-coverings are machine-trimmed to width so that you can butt adjacent lengths accurately. Some hand-printed papers are left untrimmed. These are usually expensive, so it’s not worth attempting to trim them yourself: ask the wallpaper supplier to do it for you.
Cutting plain wallpaper to length
Measure the height of the wall at the point where you will hang the first ‘drop’. Add an extra 100mm (4in) for trimming top and bottom. Cut several pieces from your first roll to the same length and mark the top of each one.
Allowing for patterned wallpaper
You may have to allow extra on alternate lengths of patterned wallpaper, in order to match the pattern.
Starting with a Straight Wall
The walls of most rooms are rarely truly square, so use a plumb line to mark a vertical guide against which to hang the first length of wall-covering.
- Start at one end of the wall and mark the vertical line one roll width away from the corner, minus 12mm (1/2in) so the first length will overlap the adjacent wall.
- Allowing enough wall-covering for trimming at the ceiling, unfold the top section of the pasted length and hold it against the plumbed line. Brush the paper gently onto the wall, working out from the centre in all directions to squeeze out any trapped air.
- When you are sure the paper is positioned accurately, lightly draw the point of your scissors along the ceiling line, peel back the top edge and cut along the crease. Smooth the paper back, and stipple it down with the brush.
- Unpeel the lower fold of the paper, smooth it onto the wall with the brush, then stipple it into the corner. Crease the bottom edge against the skirting, peel away the paper, then trim and brush it back against the wall.
Hang the next length in the same manner. Slide it with your fingertips to align the pattern and produce a perfect butt joint. Wipe any paste from the surface with a damp cloth. Ensure that the edges of the paper adhere firmly by running a seam roller along the butt joint. Continue to the other end of the wall, allowing the last drop to overlap the adjoining wall by 12mm (1/2in).
Papering Around a Corner
- Turn the corner by marking another plumbed line, so that the next length of paper covers the overlap from the first wall. If the piece you trimmed off at the corner is wide enough, use it as your first length on the new wall.
- If there’s an alcove on both sides of the fireplace, you will need to wrap the paper around the external corners. Trim the last length so that it wraps around the corner, lapping the next wall by about 25mm (1 in). Plumb and hang the remaining strip with its edge about 12mm (1/2in) from the corner.
Papering Around Radiators, Switches and Sockets
There are always small details to contend with as you paper the main areas of the room.
Papering behind the radiator
If you cannot remove a radiator, turn off the heating and allow it to cool. Use a steel tape to measure the positions of the brackets fixing the radiator to the wall. Transfer these measurements to a length of wall-covering and slit it from the bottom to the top of the bracket. Feed the pasted paper behind the radiator, down both sides of the brackets. Use a radiator roller to press it to the wall. Crease and trim to the skirting board.
Papering around switches and sockets
To be safe, turn off theat the mains. Hang the wall-covering over the switch or socket. Make diagonal cuts from the centre of the fitting to each of its corners and tap the excess paper against the edges of the faceplate with the brush. Trim off the waste, leaving 6mm (1/4in) all round. Loosen the faceplate, tuck the margin behind and re-tighten it.
Papering Around a Door and Windows
When you get to the door, hang the length of paper beside the doorframe, brushing down the butt joint to align the pattern and allowing the other edge to loosely overlap the door.
- Make a diagonal cut in the excess towards the top corner of the frame. Crease the waste down the side of the frame with scissors, peel it back, trim off and then brush back. Leave a 12mm (1/2in) strip for turning on the top of the frame.
- Fill in with short strips above the if door, then butt the next full length of paper over the door and cut the excess diagonally into the frame, pasting the rest of this strip down the side of the door. Mark and cut off the waste.
Treat a flush window frame the same way as the door. But if the window is set into a reveal, hang the length of wall-covering next to the window and allow it to overhang the opening. Make a horizontal cut just above the edge of the window reveal. Make a similar cut near the bottom, then fold the paper around to cover the side of the reveal. Crease and trim along the window frame and sill.
- To fill in the window reveal, first cut a strip of paper to match the width and pattern of the overhang just above the reveal. Paste the strip, slip it under the overhang and fold it around the top of the reveal.
- Cut through the overlap with a smooth, wavy stroke, then remove h the excess paper and roll down the joint. To continue, hang short lengths on the wall below and above the window, wrapping top lengths into the reveal.
Papering around the fireplace
Papering around a fireplace is similar to fitting the paper around a door. Make a diagonal cut in the waste overlapping the fireplace, cutting towards the corner of the mantel shelf. Now tuck the paper in all round for creasing and trimming to the fireplace surround.
If the surround is fairly ornate, first brush the paper onto the wall above the surround, then trim the paper to fit under the mantel shelf at each side; brush the paper around the corners of the chimney breast to hold it in place. Now gently press the wallpaper into the shape of the fire surround, then peel it away and cut round the impression with nail scissors. Smooth the paper back down with the brush.
Hanging Vinyl Wallpaper
Paste paper-backed vinyls in the normal way. Cotton-backed vinyl hangs better if you paste the wall and then leave it to become tacky before you apply the wall-covering. Use fungicidal paste.
Hang and butt-join lengths of vinyl, using a sponge, rather than a brush, to smooth them onto the wall. Crease a length top and bottom, then trim it to size with a sharp knife.
Dealing with overlaps
Vinyl will not normally stick to itself, so when you turn a corner use a knife to cut through both pieces of paper where they overlap. Peel away the excess and rub down the vinyl to produce a perfect butt joint.