How to Hang Wallpaper for Beginners – A Quick and Easy Guide

floral wallpaper in the bedroom with pink bedding, mustard throw and tulips in a basket.
The first time I put up wallpaper in our guest bedroom. It still looks amazing, just don’t look too closely at it 🙂 Wallpaper by www.anewall.com

Putting up wallpaper can be stressful business! I have hung a lot of wallpaper recently as my love for patterns on walls shows no sign of waning.

When I first started wallpapering, it took me almost 4 months after buying the wallpaper to put it up. I was scared of doing it and it seemed like a lot of faff and mess.

However, now I thoroughly enjoy doing it so I thought I’d write a quick blog post on how to hang wallpaper for beginners. A bit like builders, finding good painters and decorators in my area is as rare as gnats’ teeth. When we finally manage to get hold of one, the amount they charge is enough to put a deposit down on a small tropical island. 

I decided to take the matter into my own hands. After googling how to hang wallpaper yourself, I armed myself with all the tools and some determination and I have never looked back. 

The first wallpaper I attempted was my glorious floral mural from anewall.com I bought some paste and a brush and slapped the paste onto the wallpaper and hung it. I was pretty pleased once it was done because, well, I’d done it. I knew I needed a bit more practice, but my research on how to hang wallpaper yourself was successful. 

So yes, I’ll admit my first attempt was not great. I mean, I hung the wallpaper but it was quite a slapdash jog. Mainly because I didn’t do much preparation first which is key to hanging wallpaper like a professional!

How to Hang Wallpaper for Beginners

I’ve just completed wallpapering my Son’s room with an amazing design by Rebel Walls, so here is my step-by-step guide on how to hang wallpaper for beginners. You can see my Son’s bedroom full revamp here.

1. 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. Things like windows, doors, and lots of plug sockets can be extremely tricky to navigate around and might put you off wallpapering forever!

Most wallpaper companies will calculate how much wallpaper you will need by entering your wall dimensions. This is a fabulous tool as I have often been caught short in the past.

There are many types of wallpaper to choose from including – 

  • Wallpaper rolls with paste to the wall
  • Wallpaper rolls with paste to the roll
  • Wallpaper murals
  • Fit-to-size wallpaper murals
  • Custom made wallpapers

I have a thing for wall murals. There are so many to choose from these days, from forest and nature-inspired murals to custom wallpapers

2. Preparation is Key 

wallpaper steamer to strip off old wallpaper

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 prevent bubbles.

using a wallpaper steamer stripper on the walls
using sandpaper to ensure the walls are smooth
using sugar soap to make sure the walls are clean

3. Get Your Tools Ready!

tools for the job. Wallpapering tools including a spirit level, wallpaper paste, brushes and rollers, squeegee and smoother

To hang your wallpaper, you will need;

What is the best way to hang wallpaper?

If you can get hold of ready-made wallpaper paste, definitely do it! It saves time and effort and is 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 is 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 tends to rip the paper.

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4. 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 the 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!

The best tip I can give on how to hang wallpaper yourself is to always get wallpaper that can be applied by pasting the wall first.  

5. Measuring the Wallpaper to Fit

rebel walls wallpaper with handy cut lines
Handy guidelines on the wallpaper

It all depends on what wallpaper you have bought and how much preparation you need to do when it comes to the best way to hang wallpaper.

In the past, I have bought wallpaper from budget outlets and you just get the rolls sent to you without any measuring or handy guidelines. This means there will be a lot more preparation as you have to measure the height of the wall first and then measure the amount of wallpaper needed.

When measuring the wall, always make 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!

cutting along the guided 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.

measuring with a tape measure, the distance the wallpaper will be from the corner of the wall
using a spirit level to create a straight line for the wallpaper

6. 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.

I use a paint roller to paste the walls for the wallpaper
using the paint roller to apply the wallpaper paste to the walls
getting into the corners with a paint brush

The best way to hang wallpaper is to line the wallpaper roll up with the pencil line you drew earlier. Start from the top, let the wallpaper roll out, and then 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 probably squeeze out paste as well, so use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe the excess paste away.

using a wallpaper smoother to squeeze the bubbles out
smoothing the wallpaper down with a dry, clean cloth

Once you have smoothed out the wallpaper, make an indentation around the edges and pull the wallpaper back far enough so you can use the scissors (or knife) to cut away the excess wallpaper.

Now, this bit you have to be 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 take my time with this and make sure the edge is perfectly straight and in line with the corners.

using the wallpaper smoother to create a crease in the wallpaper so you know where to cut
using the wallpaper smoother so you know where to cut the wallpaper
I always use a very sharp pair of scissors to cut the wallpaper
I always use a very sharp pair of scissors to cut the wallpaper. I have used knives in the past but they can lag and crease the wallpaper
the wallpaper cut with scissors
A perfectly straight line

So, there you have it, your first roll is up! You can now line up the next roll of wallpaper. 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!

The first roll up

7. How to Put Up Wallpaper When Making a Mistake

The common problems I find when putting up wallpaper are the paper not matching exactly and cutting away too much wallpaper at the edges. Again, it takes a bit of patience but it can be easily rectified.

If you find that when you are 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 on numerous occasions and it is 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.

8. 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 patience, they’re really easy to do.

Corners

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

let the wallpaper fall over the light switch or plug socket and cut four lines to the corner from the middle

How to hang wallpaper yourself when it’s just a straight wall is relatively easy. Plug sockets and lights are a 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.

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 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, use your wallpaper smoother and dent the wallpaper along the corners of the switch, and cut the wallpaper off. You will then be able to fit the wallpaper snugly around the light switch and smooth it into place.

I get asked a lot of questions on how to hang wallpaper for beginners and how to put up wallpaper. It can seem really daunting to begin with and like most things, practice makes perfect!

Putting up wallpaper is so simple to do and has transformed this room

Tiger wallpaper by Rebel Walls for a boys room
Just need to paint the walls!
rebel walls tiger wallpaper for a boys room
tiger in the jungle wallpaper with mustard accent colours for a boys bedroom

I enjoy putting it up now, it feels such an achievement each time I do it, and provides a Wow factor to a room. The key to wallpapering is Preparation and Patience! Go on, try it…

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