Wallpapering: The Art of Paperhanging

There is more to paperhanging than meets the eye if you wish to achieve first-class results. Care at every stage of work, using a few sound rules, is the recipe for success. ‘Awkward’ areas, such as reveals, chimney breasts and papering around fittings may seem a problem, but, tackled systematically, are not necessarily difficult.


Stand the pasting table near the light source. Good light is important when checking pattern matching, measuring and ensuring an even spread of paste.

A plastic bucket is a suitable paste container. A piece of string, stretched tautly between the handle sockets, will be useful for wiping surplus paste from the brush.

When you have measured the length of the drop, cut, in one operation, several strips of the same length; this will save you time. Use a pair of scissors or a metal straight-edge and knife to cut the paper. The straight-edge method provides a neat, accurate cut and is quick.


Place the first length of paper, pattern side down, on the paste table. Line up the far end of the paper with the end of the table, allowing a slight overlap. At the other end, let the excess paper fall on to the floor.

Dip the paste brush into the adhesive until the paste is one third of the way up the bristles, wipe it against the string and start pasting, working from the centre of the paper outwards to the far edge.

Ensure that the paste is spread evenly. Never brush in from the edges as the paste will seep under the paper and on to the patterned surface.

Next, move the paper towards the near edge of the table and brush the paste towards you. Half the length is now pasted. Take hold of the pasted end of the paper and loop it over to the centre, paste to paste, making sure the top and bottom edges match. Do not fold in a crease which will mark the paper.

Move the folded loop along the table so that the loop overhangs the end. Apply paste to the other section in the same way. When this is completed, loop this end over to the centre so that the two looped edges meet.

Checking verticals

Start working at a window area. Take a point about 900mm from the window and mark in a vertical line. Use a chalked plumb-bob or vertical spirit level to mark the vertical from ceiling or picture rail height to the skirting.

Hold the bob firmly in one hand and ‘twang’ the chalked string so that it marks the wall, or use the level as a straight edge and pencil in the line. This marking should be repeated at every corner of the room.

Begin work at one side of the window, dividing the room into two sections. Hang the paper in sequence on both sides of the room, working towards the door. The advantage of this method is that joins and overlaps that, occur will be in shadow and not so obvious to the eye.

This hanging sequence is suitable for plain or overall patterned wall coverings. Where a bold motif is used, the paper should first be applied to room features, such as chimney breasts and alcoves.

Hanging technique

Lift the looped, pasted paper over one arm and carry it to the wall. With the pasted inner side facing the wall, offer the top end to the wall at the junction of the wall and ceiling or picture rail.

Allowing about 50mm overlap at the top, slide the paper into position. Line it up with the chalk line, marking the perpendicular. Supporting the rest of the paper with the knee, brush down the centre of the paper and then outwards towards the edges to push out any entrapped air.

Open out the bottom loop and smooth this into position, using a similar brushing sequence-leaving a 50mm overlap at the skirting edge.


With the back of the shears, press the paper into the angle between ceiling or picture rail and wall to ensure a neat fit. This will give a crease line at the point of trimming.

Gently pull the paper away from the wall and, from the back, cut away the surplus along this line, then push back the paper; a similar trimming method is used at the skirting edge.

If the paper appears wrinkled, this means the air has not been brushed out.

Peel the paper back gently, re-position and brush out that section. Any surplus paste on skirting or picture rails should be wiped off.

10. November 2011 by admin
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