Putting up wallpaper can be a stressful business! I have hung a lot of wallpaper recently as my love for pattern on walls shows no sign of waning. The first time I decided to wallpaper, it took me almost 4 months after receiving the wallpaper to actually put it up because in all honesty, I was scared of doing it. It just seemed like a lot of faff and mess and I kept putting it off and painting walls instead.
A bit like builders, finding good painter and decorators in my area is as rare as gnats teeth and when we finally got hold of one, the amount he was charging was enough for him to put a deposit on a small tropical island so I decided to take the matters into my own hands and just get on with it. The wallpaper was ready to go, I bought some paste and a brush, slapped the paste onto the wallpaper and hung it. Shoddily! But I was pretty pleased once it was done because, well, I’d done it.
So yes, I’ll admit my first attempt was not great. I mean, I hung the wallpaper but it was quite a slapdash job and mainly because I didn’t do much preparation first which is absolutely key to hanging wallpaper like a professional! I’ve just completed wallpapering my Son’s room with an amazing design by Rebel Walls, so here is my step by step guide to hanging wallpaper. You can see my Son’s bedroom full revamp here.
Buying Your Wallpaper
If you’ve never done wallpapering before, I think it’s probably a good idea to start with a wall that doesn’t have many obstructions, like windows, doors and lots of plug sockets! Most wallpaper companies will now calculate how much wallpaper you will need by entering your wall dimensions which is a fabulous tool as I have often been caught short in the past.
Preparation Preparation Preparation
I can’t stress this enough but get your walls prepped first! Strip back any old wallpaper with a wallpaper stripper or wallpaper steamer stripper and take out any old nails, filling them with Polyfilla if needs be. Then give the walls a good sanding down, I used Diall 120 grit fine sandpaper.
Once you are happy the walls are completely smooth and there are no ugly lumps and bumps left over, wipe the walls down with sugar soap and a damp cloth. Even if your wall isn’t that badly damaged, it’s always a good idea to give it a quick sand and wash with sugar soap as it helps prevents bubbles.
Get Your Tools Ready!
To hang your wallpaper, you will need –
- Patience 🙂
- Wallpaper paste
- Pasting brush or roller
- Spirit level
- Paint brush
- Sponge or damp cloth
- Wallpaper smoother
- Utility knife or scissors
- Step ladder
If you can get hold of ready-made wallpaper paste, definitely do it! It saves time and effort and absolutely worth the money. There was a lot of effing and blinding in the kitchen this week as I had to use electric whiskers to get the lumps out! I also prefer to use a paint roller over a wallpaper brush as it much easier to apply and spreads the paste evenly. Finally, I always use a pair of really sharp scissors over a utility knife as I find, because the wallpaper is damp, the knife has a tendency to rip the paper.
Paste the wall vs Paste the wallpaper
You will either have bought paste the wall wallpaper or put paste straight onto the wallpaper and hang it up. In my experience, I cannot stress how much easier it is to use paste the wall wallpaper. Trying to paste wallpaper on a pasting table and then carrying it over to the wall will only end up with stress levels going to the moon and you being covered foot to toe in paste, believe me! So, I highly recommend always getting wallpaper where you paste the wall first.
Measuring the wallpaper to fit
It all depends on what wallpaper you have bought as to how much preparation you need to do. In the past I have bought wallpaper from budget outlets and you literally just get the rolls sent to you. This means a lot of preparation as you have to measure the height of the wall first and then measure that amount of wallpaper, always making sure you leave at least 100mm at the top and bottom so it gives you room for error (and wonky ceilings and floors). Thankfully, the Mischievous Tigers wallpaper I was sent from Rebel Walls was extremely well marked out so all I had to do was cut on the line!
In the past, I have always lined the wallpaper up with a corner of the wall but this is a mistake! Houses have notoriously wonky walls so this would mean the wallpaper would not be 100% vertical. I now measure the width of the wallpaper and then measure that distance from the corner of the wall where your starting point is. Then, using a spirit level to make sure you have a completely straight vertical line, I will draw a line in pencil and this is where I will place the first roll of wallpaper.
Putting up your wallpaper
Make sure you have your first strip of wallpaper cut and laid out and paste the wall from ceiling to floor with a paint roller. Once I’m happy there’s enough paste on the wall, I use a small paintbrush to get the paste into the corners and along the ceiling and skirting board.
Get the wallpaper roll into place by lining it up with the pencil line you drew earlier and then starting from the top, use a clean sponge or cloth to slowly press the wallpaper into place. I tend to use a sponge first and if you’ve done a good job with the preparation, it should turn out well.
If there are any bubbles left, use a wallpaper smoother to squeeze them out to the edges. This will also probably squeeze out paste as well, so use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe excess paste away.
Then using the wallpaper smoother again, make an indentation around the edges and pull the wallpaper back enough so you can use the scissors (or knife) to cut away the excess wallpaper. Now, this bit you have to be really patient! I’m not a patient person and in the past have just roughly cut away but it can leave you with an awful jagged edge and is extremely noticeable. So, I make sure that I really take my time with this and make sure the edge is perfectly straight and in line with the corners.
So, there you have it, your first roll is up! You can now line up the next roll of wallpaper and depending on what brand you have, you might have to hold the paper up to the wall and cut off the edges yourself, making sure that you still leave plenty of room for error on either end. With the Rebel Walls wallpaper, there was already a cut off point for the next part of the roll so I didn’t need to do any measuring!
What to do when making a mistake
The most common problems I find when putting up wallpaper is the paper not matching exactly and cutting away too much wallpaper at the edges. Again, it takes a bit of patience but can be easily rectified. If you find when trying to match the pattern and it doesn’t align correctly, just peel away the wallpaper and try again, making sure you use a wallpaper smoother to get it to apply straight. You can also very slowly move the wallpaper into position once it is stuck to the wall.
I’ve cut away too much paper often and it is really frustrating. Depending on the size of the gap between the ceiling or skirting board, you can either find the cut away piece and paste it into place or if it’s far too fiddly, cut the wallpaper a few inches up from the skirting board or down from the ceiling and replace with a piece of wallpaper that matches exactly. You will notice the join line, but I promise it won’t be that noticeable once you’ve finished wallpapering.
The tricky bits
I’m sure along your wallpaper journey, you will come across a corner or a plug socket! They might seem daunting at first but with a bit of patient, they’re really easy to do.
Corners are relatively simple, you don’t need to cut the paper and then fit it around the corner. Start by pasting the wall as normal on both sides of the corner and match the wallpaper to the previous roll already pasted on the wall. Gently push the wallpaper into the corner with the wallpaper smoother, leaving a slight mark so you can see where the paper will fold.
Cut the wallpaper at the top and bottom until it reaches the mark where the ceiling and floor meet the corner so then you can fold the paper around the corner easily and paste it onto the next wall. To finish, trim the top and bottom like before.
Plug sockets and lights are that little bit trickier. The best way to do it is to start by putting up wallpaper above the socket and then loosely let it fall over the socket or switch. Then, finding the middle of the switch, make a little hole with a pair of scissors or knife and cut out diagonally from the hole to the corners of the switch. You can then fold back the four triangles that the cut has made and slowly fit the wallpaper around the switch.
Once you are happy it is in place, using your wallpaper smoother, dent the wallpaper along the corners of the switch and cut the wallpaper off. You should then be able to fit the wallpaper snugly around the light switch and smooth it into place.
I really enjoy putting it up now, it feels such an achievement each time I do it and really does provide a Wow factor to a room. The key to wallpapering is Preparation and Patience! Go on, try it