Paper Hanging: Preparation of Surfaces and Wallpaper

Preparation of Surfaces:

Distempered walls and ceilings should be washed and any loose or scaly distemper removed. Old wallpaper should be cleaned off, cracks and holes filled as previously described, and the walls lightly rubbed down with glass-paper before sizing with thinned cellulose paste or glue size. It is a common practice with inexperienced decorators to hang new paper over old paper. This should be considered bad practice and the handyman who wants to become expert at paper hanging should always strip old wallpaper before hanging new. If this is not done the paste on the old wallpaper will soak through the new paper to soften the paste holding that paper to the wall, and the extra weight may cause both old and new papers to peel away at top corners.

In addition to improving the appearance of the finished job it will be found much easier to strip the walls when repapering the room in the future. If possible, it is best to clear the room completely of furniture before hanging paper and whenever it can be arranged, the table on which the paper pasted is should be placed in the room where the work is being done. If it is not possible to clear the room, all the small pieces of furniture should be removed and the large pieces stacked in the middle of the room in such a way as to provide easy access to all surfaces being decorated. The stack of furniture should be covered with sheets or several layers of newspaper pinned together. It is not necessary to take up linoleum but carpets and rugs should be removed, and if the chimney needs sweeping this is a good time to have it done, before the new paper is hung.

Preparation of Materials:

Wallpaper is prepared by trimming the selvedges. These are simply included when the wallpaper is printed to protect the edges of the paper in transit and in store. The selvedges may be trimmed by hand but this practice is not recommended; it is a very lengthy and tedious job to trim wallpaper by hand, and it is necessary to work very carefully so that the trimmed edges are neatly and accurately cut. This is a job best done by machine and shops that supply wallpapers will trim rolls by machine for a very small extra charge. Some DIYers like to work with papers that have one edge only trimmed, others prefer working with papers that have both edges trimmed.


The handyman who wishes to become expert at paper hanging is advised right from the very start to have both edges trimmed. With both edges trimmed there is no overlapping and the joining edges butt together at the seam. It is not advisable to cut all the rolls of wallpaper into strips before starting the job, it is only necessary to prepare one roll at a time. Measure the paper carefully, remembering to allow suitable extra amounts for matching or edge trimming, and cut the strips across with scissors. It is advisable to check the accuracy of measurement by hanging a dry length against the wall before cutting the complete roll. The pieces cut from the roll are referred to as strips or pieces. The pieces should be placed on the pasting table with all face sides downwards and with the back edges of the strips underlapping. The front edges of the topmost strip should be level with the front edge of the pasting table. It is not very often that the home handyman will be able to use a table of sufficient length to accommodate the complete length of a strip of paper. It is best to have all the surplus paper hanging over one end of the table, preferably the left edge.

If a plain or small-patterned paper that does not require matching at the edges is being hung, the use of a plumb-line is not essential. If, however, the paper is patterned, the edge position of the first strip to be hung should be marked with a plumb-line. If this is not done the pattern may be out of square and run into or away from the ends at the tops or lower edges of the walls. To use a plumb-line first check the width of the paper by measuring it; although the standard width of wallpaper is 21 in, it will often be found that there is some variation in the trimmed width. Whatever the width, this should be marked at the top of the wall where the first piece is to be hung and it is best to start from a corner. Deduct 1 in. for turning the corner and make the necessary measure mark. The plumbline should be rubbed with chalk; one end of the line is then held against the mark at the top of the wall with the point of the weight just above the skirting-board.

When the weight stops swinging, make a pencil-mark exactly opposite the weight on the wall. Lower the string so that the ends can be held to the measure marks — it will require two people to do this job properly — pluck the centre of the string from the wall and release it smartly. To appreciate the necessity of using a plumbline to ensure a perfectly vertical mark it should be explained that although the utmost care is taken when building houses it sometimes happens that the corners of walls are not completely square and any slight difference, even as little as 1/16 in., could distort the horizontal level of patterned papers. The plumb-line and bob should also be used with patterned papers, after hanging every three or four pieces, to check the vertical uprightness of the edges. The position of commencing to paper a room may vary. In most cases it is advisable to start from the corner of a wall at right angles to the main source of light and work away from the window. In the case of patterned papers, however, it is usual to hang the first strip over the main feature of the room — usually the fireplace — so that the pattern will be evenly balanced. After marking the wall where necessary the job of paper hanging may be commenced.

Read more on:

Paper hanging tools and equipment

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: Preparation of Surfaces and Wallpaper


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