Paper Hanging Advice: Tools, Equipment and Estimating

Of the wide variety of jobs that come within the scope of the home handyman, wallpaper hanging is one of the most interesting and one that gives gratifying results for the time taken. Paper hanging is not a difficult job if it is done sensibly and in correct sequence as explained below. For hanging paper correctly some special tools are required:

Paper Hanging Tools:

The chief requirement is a pair of scissors, and although it is possible to do the job with household scissors, the DIYer is advised to invest in a proper pair of long-bladed wallpaper shears.

Next in importance is a good smoothing-brush, and one about 10 in. long with a good thickness of bristles should be found suitable for handyman use.

A brush will be required for applying paste to the back of the wallpaper — a distemper brush may be used for this purpose.

Another useful tool required is a seam-roller. These are usually of boxwood and are intended for rolling the seams of paper that is not embossed with a raised pattern. If the paper has a prominently embossed pattern it will be advisable to use a rubber-covered roller. Alternatively, a small paint-roller may be used for this purpose.

For use when hanging patterned paper, a plumb bob and line will be required. This is simply a length of thin stout cord attached to a pear-shaped metal weight.

Additional aids to good paper hanging are: a 2-ft. or 3-ft. folding rule, pencil (not indelible), a decorator’s sponge, a supply of old rags, a bucket in which to mix the paste and a wooden spoon for mixing.

Paper Hanging Equipment:

For paper hanging on walls, the handyman will require a pair of household steps; where these are not available the uppermost parts of most walls can be reached from a chair.

For papering ceilings it will be necessary to rig up a scaffold consisting of two pairs of steps with a stout plank. If only one pair of steps is available one end of the plank may be supported by a table.

Also required will be a suitable table on which to lay the paper while it is being pasted. The best arrangement, of course, is a 6-ft. trestle table, but if this is not available any convenient-sized table may be used, with the top covered by a loose sheet of hardboard which can project over each end of the table by about 12 in.

Paper Hanging Materials:

The main material is, of course, wallpaper and there are many different kinds available, ranging from very thin papers used for lining ceilings to thick embossed papers. The range of patterns and colours is almost unlimited and fresh patterns are published by manufacturers every year, usually in the Spring. Pattern books may be seen at local shops which supply wallpaper and may be borrowed from these shops to take home and browse over.

The choice of paper is largely a matter for the individual. However, if the handyman is a complete beginner to wallpaper hanging he is well advised to choose a plain, small-patterned paper for the first job or so rather than a wallpaper with a bold complicated pattern that requires a great deal of care in matching at the edges. The quality of the paper is also a matter for individual consideration, but in this respect the beginner will be well advised to choose one that is not too thin or too thick. As a general guide, ignoring special surfaced papers and ceiling papers, the beginner paperhanger should select a paper in the middle price range which will be found neither too thin nor too thick for easy application. There is one more thing about paper which should be considered when selecting, and that is the fastness of the colour. Very few wallpapers have completely fast colours except varnished papers and the cautious paperhanger should make the simple test of rubbing a wet fingertip on the paper in the pattern book before deciding to purchase. Now, if the pattern colours smudge easily when rubbed with a wet finger the beginner should avoid them and choose others that are harder to smudge.

In addition to wallpaper there is available a good range of borders in a wide variety of colours, designs and widths. Choice of these is also a matter for individual consideration, but like the main paper, the border should not be too thin or too thick and the colours should be reasonably fast when rubbed with a wet finger. In addition to borders there are also corner motifs and other decorative motifs.

The best paste for amateur use is a cellulose-based paste. The beginner may use one of the patent powder pastes mixed with cold water or he may prefer to use the old-fashioned flour paste, but if any of the latter is smeared on the face of the paper it will almost certainly stain it and the pattern will smudge. Cellulose paste does not stain the face of even the most delicate papers and it is easy to mix and apply. The paste, when suitably thinned according to container instructions, may also be used to size the walls and ceilings before the paper is hung. Sizing may also be done with a glue size, but use of glue size is not recommended if cellulose paste is used on the paper.


British wallpapers are manufactured in the standard width of 21 in. This width does not include the selvedges which are trimmed off before the paper is hung. The average length of a roll of wallpaper will vary between 11 yd. and 13 yd. for the purpose of estimating, the length of a roll should be regarded as 11 yd.

Continental paper is wider and this should be taken into account when purchasing. When purchasing wallpaper it is advisable to buy the full amount required at one time. If the paper for a room is purchased in different batches as the work progresses, it is quite possible there may be a slight difference in colour between the different batches. Obviously the number of rolls required will vary according to the size of the room.

To accurately estimate requirements, all walls of the room should be measured along their length and marked at intervals of 21 in. Any incomplete sections of the wall, such as over doorways, fireplaces and over and under windows, should be estimated separately by measuring these surfaces and arriving at a total in square feet. With the walls marked off in 21-in. intervals the height of the wall should be measured from the under edge of the ceiling, or the edge of the frieze, down to the top of the skirting. It should then be a simple matter to estimate the number of complete strips and divide the total length by the length of one roll of wallpaper (11 yd.), adding the allowance for incomplete parts of walls, to arrive at the number of rolls required. When estimating the length of each strip, 6 in. extra should be added to the height of the walls. This allows a margin of 3 in. at each end of the strip for trimming. It is essential to allow this extra, because wallpaper cannot be cut to the exact size before hanging.

This method of estimating applies to plain paper or papers with small patterns that do not require matching at the edges. In the case of patterned paper which does require edge-matching an extra allowance must be made-for matching the pattern and this can only be determined by the actual paper used. In the case of some plain and small-patterned papers it is advisable to hang every strip in reversed order. When this is necessary the manufacturers include a printed slip with each roll of paper. It is a simple matter to estimate borders which are sold by the yard. If a border is to be hung at the top of the paper and/or at the bottom edge where the paper meets the skirting-board, it will not be necessary to make such a generous allowance for trimming the ends of strips, as the border will cover edges of strips that are cut short.

See also:

Paper Hanging: Preparation of Surfaces and Wallpaper

How to Paste and Fold Wallpaper

Guide to Putting Up Wallpaper

26. July 2011 by admin
Categories: Preparation, Wallpapering | Tags: , | Comments Off on Paper Hanging Advice: Tools, Equipment and Estimating


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