Wallpapering a Wall

How to easily wallpaper your home

Wallpaper can save you all the hassle of special painting techniques. It can be applied to painted surfaces, existing wallpaper, drywall or plaster. Add 15% to the total length of paper you purchase to allow for cutting around windows and doors and for mishaps. Make sure that all the rolls have the same batch number.

The types of wallpaper include white lining papers that can be used to provide a smooth surface for painting, off white lining papers that can serve as a base for wallpaper, or heavy white for uneven walls. Standard wallpapers are those with patterns - not so hardwearing, but more affordable. Flock wallpaper is a heavy covering with artistic application of fine paper or other materials to create nice patterns. Woodchip wallpaper is quite tough, creates a nice effect and can also cover minor imperfections on the wall. Embossed wallpaper has patterns and can be painted to create some nice effects. Kitchens and bathrooms may require vinyl for its toughness and moisture resistance.

Depending on the quality of the existing paint on the wall it may be necessary to apply primer. If needed, use primer that is designed as wallpaper undercoat. Leave it to dry for 24 hours before applying the wallpaper. It is best to remove existing wallpaper, especially if it has a different colour or patterns that can spoil the new wallpaper. To do this a steam stripper will be the most effective.

Planning and setting out wallpaper

First determine where you will be hanging the first and the last strips. This is important when you consider that the patterns may not perfectly meet up. The walls may also not be plumb - at perfect right angles - and this will create a problem when hanging wallpaper in the corners. Hang a plumb line and draw a line, using a pencil and spirit level, on each wall and at each corner and then plan your approach.

Check if the ceiling line is perfectly level and decide which part of the pattern must fit against the top edge. Measure the length you would need from top to bottom, add four inches and cut the strip accordingly. Use a razor or craft knife and straightedge or use scissors.

Pasting wallpaper

Wallpaper may require adhesive or it may be pre-pasted. Pre-pasted paper needs to be soaked to activate it. The label should indicate whether it's pre-pasted or not and will provide instructions on which paste to use and how to prepare it.

Pre-pasted paper can be immersed in a long tray filled with lukewarm water, placed next to the worktable. The strip you want to hang must be immersed (rolled-up) for not more than 15 seconds. Pull up one end carefully and place it on the table with the patterns facing down and the two ends folded to the middle. Leave it to ‘relax' for as long as is recommended by the manufacturer. Be careful that you don't crease the paper.

To paste wallpaper also requires that you place the strip pattern side down on the table. Following the included instructions carefully, thoroughly mix the paste in a bucket to prevent lumps. Apply the adhesive with a large pasting brush from the middle out to the edges and cover the whole strip. You can paste up to 4 lengths at a time to give the paste enough time to soak into the paper.

For patterned wallpaper, start in the most discreet corner, in case the pattern of the last strip meeting the first one doesn't come together perfectly. Hold the paper near the wall without making contact and when the paper lines up with your vertical pencil marking and slightly overlaps the top edge, gently push it against the wall. Gently slide it into position and be extra careful with thin papers, to prevent tearing.

Use your hanging brush and smooth out from the centre to the edges to remove any air bubbles and ensure proper contact. Where the paper meets the top edge or the skirting board, press the paper into the respective creases with your scissors.

This should create a clear line to cut along, but to make sure, you can press down on the overlapping part against the wall so that the crease will become more defined. Now you can pull back the wallpaper just enough to be able to cut of the overlapping piece. Brush it back into place.

To work around sockets and switches, first turn of the main switch serving the lights at the consumer unit. When you reach the switch plate or socket, let the paper hang over it and mark its corners onto the wallpaper. Draw an X that connects the four corners, cut along the lines with a craft knife and cut off the four flaps, but leave just enough paper to tuck behind the faceplate. Unscrew the faceplate, press the paper in place and replace the faceplate.