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Painting Tips and Tricks 10 :How to Wallpaper, Hanging Wallpaper

Updated on August 15, 2014

Learn How to Wallpaper Professionally

Lets look at the tools you'll need, to learn how to wallpaper and make the job easier. When it came to hanging wallpaper my dad always used the kitchen table for pasting; papering walls can be tough enough but he was just making things even harder, you can use the kitchen table if you want, however it always ends up like a Laurel and Hardy sketch.

You can pick up a pasting table for around £15.00/$20.00 and as with all the tools I'm going to mention, unless you never intend to decorate again, you should look at your decorating tools as an investment that you'll have them for years.

Tools for Learning How To Wallpaper.

1 Pkt Paste.

Stirring stick.

Bucket to mix the paste in.

Pasting Table.

Tape Measure.


25cm/10” Shears

15cm/6” Paste Brush


10” Papering brush, for putting the paper on.


Small insulated screw driver

Golden Rule When Hanging Wallpaper, Measure Twice, Cut Once

This 'how to wallpaper' hub is written in sequence with the tools that are used; you can buy ready mixed paste, but the dry packet paste is a lot cheaper. So first mix your paste, just read the back of the packet and follow the directions for the amount of water needed, cut the corner off the packet and pour the paste into the water, slowly but continuously while stirring continuously; don't add more water than it says, it's a big no no which I'll explain later.

Measure the height of your walls and allow an extra 2”/5cm at the top and bottom. Now take one of your rolls of wallpaper and your pencil, without taking the wallpaper out of it's wrapper place it horizontally in the corner of the wall that's next to the wall with the room window in, and put a pencil mark on the wall at the end of the wallpaper; move your wallpaper along the wall marking as you go and numbering each mark as you go round the room, this tells you how many drops you'll need and at the same time you will be able to see where your drops will land and how your cuts will fall into place. If you put your first full piece on the wall and then you get to the end of the wall and you have 1"/2.5cm gap before you reach the end it's not a good idea to put just a 1"/2.5 strip of wallpaper in, cut 3"/7.5 off your first piece to give you a good cut at the end of the wall.

Pasting tables are around 6'/183cm x 22”/56cm wide; a roll of wallpaper is 21”/53cm wide, most walls are around 9'/244cm plus your 2"/5cm extra at each end . There's all different types of wallpaper on the market to numerous to mention and I could go into how to wallpaper using them all; but for the sake of this hub lets say where putting up light weight normal wallpaper with a re-accruing patten that can be matched on ether side of the roll, So your length of wallpaper is 9'4"/254, measure 3'4"/101cm from the left hand side of your pasting table and put a pencil mark on the table; with the pattern side up roll out the paper till you come to the end of the table; the table is 6'/183cm, holding the wallpaper with your left hand pinch the wallpaper with the finger and thumb of your right hand at the end of the table. Lift the whole roll up and move back up the table put your finger and thumb on the 3'4"/101cm mark on the table and roll out the paper to the end again that's 9'4"/254.

Bend the wallpaper roll back over it's self and roll out a little way back up the table, make sure the sides are in line with each and flatten the wallpaper down so you put a crease line in the paper, cut the paper on this line. That's how to cut wallpaper lengths; you can measure it, market with a pencil then cut it, but this is the fastest way and don't forget you have 4” of waste so you don't have to be to careful even when cutting the crease. That's your first piece of wallpaper cut; now roll out the next piece, pattern side up match the wallpaper pattern to the one below.

What you have to watch is wallpaper patterns repeat them selves around every 21”/53cm to 27”/68cm and the next peace your about to cut off the same roll could have a lot of waste once you've matched it; in this case try a few of the other rolls till you get a better match with hardly any waste. Roll out your next piece of paper making sure you keep the match together till you get to the end of the table; with the roll in your left hand pick up both pieces of paper with your right hand and move them up the table until the end of the first piece is on the table; roll out the second piece to the end of the first, bend it over again, take your shears and cut the crease, carry on until you have cut all your drops.

How to Paste Wallpaper

Pasting the wallpaper properly is one of the most important parts of learning how to wallpaper, get this wrong when hanging wallpaper and you'll have paste all over the place at least, or see your wallpaper fall off the wall at worse.

Turn the wallpaper over (pattern side down) and arrange it in the middle of the table so you have paper hanging over both ends of the table; now push the paper away from you so you can see 4”/10cm off the table on your side, take the top piece of paper and bring it to the end of the table on your right, then pull it towards you so you can only see 1”/2.5cm of the table.
Load your 6” paste brush with paste and starting at the end of the paper, in the middle; pushing the paste out to the far edge and lift the brush bringing it back to the centre and pushing out to the edge again, going down the length of the table, when you've done the far side pull the paper to the edge of the table on your side, load your brush and from the middle pull the paste to your edge.
Make sure you have plenty of paste on the wallpaper and look down the the paste table to see if you can see any misses.

There's all different components in learning how to wallpaper and folding it right once it's pasted will help you speed up the job when hanging wallpaper. From the right hand side fold the paper in half, paste to paste then pull the paper back up the table to paste what's left; once pasted fold that back to the centre so you have two folds one large and one small, fold the large fold again, pattern to pattern, to make it smaller and put it to one side to soak.

One of the most important things to remember when learning how to wallpaper is once it's pasted, the paste is absorbed and expands wallpaper, it's then put on the wall and as it drys it contracts but is held in place by the paste. If you where to over dilute the paste it becomes weak and when it contracts on the wall the full strength of grip is not there, so when the wallpaper is completely dry it can shrink and gaps will appear between each length of paper.

All wallpaper once pasted as to have a period of time for the paste to soak in before you put it on the wall; vinyl needs the least amount, once pasted you can more our less put it up right away. Lining paper should be left for 5 minutes, normal paper 10 minutes, anaglypta 15 minutes and heavy anaglyptas 15 to 20 minutes.

This procedure ensures you don't get paste on the pattern side of the paper.

Where to Put the First Piece When Hanging Wallpaper

Another very important issue in how to wallpaper a room is where to start. All you'll need is your steps, rather than plank and steps, because you'll be going up and down with each piece of wallpaper, your shears and papering brush. Your first piece of wallpaper is the most important one and has to be straight other wise when you get to the last piece of paper in the room it could be running at an angle and spoil the whole job. The first piece should go in the corner next to the wall with a window in, putting the rest on working away from the light. Take the wallpaper over your left arm, like a coat, and remember you have 2”/5cm extra at the top. Get your self in position on the steps and taking the ends of the larger fold, holding them in each hand just let the fold drop down between the steps and the wall, don't bother about the bottom fold for now, offer the paper up to the wall letting 1cm go on to the wall with the window in, and about 2” past the top of the wall.

Why do we let 1cm of wallpaper go on to the wall with the window?
Corners, although look straight to the naked eye rarely are; if we tried to butt the straight edge of the paper into the corner it will have little gaps here and there all the way down so we turn the paper on to the adjoining wall. As you offer the wallpaper to the wall look down and try to put the paper on as strait as possible by eye. Just let it sit on the wall and lightly smooth the paper with your hand. Now get your plum bob, you may only have to use it two or three times on the job but it's one of the most important tools when hanging wallpaper,.
Let out the string about 7'/214cm; now holding the string in your right hand and making fist with your thumb sticking out, put the heal of your hand on the wall and the string over the length of your thumb, offer the string to the edge of the paper without your thumb or the weight of the plumb bob touching the wall, stop the weight from swinging and just let it hang still. Your string should be in line with the edge of the wall paper if it's not just lift off the bottom of the wallpaper from the wall and letting it come off the about 2/3 of the way up. If the paper needs to go closer to the string, smooth the wallpaper down, this time with your papering brush, in that direction and the opposite way if it needs to come away from the string. If you have to move quite a bit you will probable get a kink in the wallpaper about 1/3 of the way down. In that case pull the top away from the wall and just smooth it back it should just fall in line. Get those three last important procedures right when learning how to wallpaper and your half way there.

How to Cut Off the Waste

Once you've smooth back the top you need to cut the waste off; first make sure you tuck the wallpaper right into the edge where the wall and ceiling meet with your papering brush. I've heard quite a few different suggestions as to how this should be done and I'm not going to itemise them all I'm going to tell you how a professional dose it when hanging wallpaper and that's what you really need to know when your learning how to wallpaper.

Your shears have two blades one blade is rounded off at the end and the other has a pointed end. Hold your shears as normal opening them so the blade with the point is upper most; slip this under your 2/5cm waste and score along it lightly about three times pull it off the wall with your left hand and cut along the scored line. Now smooth down the paper all over sweeping down the to the left then to the right from the top. Cut the waste at the bottom the same way as you cut the top.

How to Wallpaper Tips

Once you have the first piece on properly, your away, so take your time to get it right, paste and hang the rest in the same way.
When it comes to light switches and sockets let the paper fall over them, press hard on the four corners, then take your shears and poke a whole in the centre with the pointed blade then cut towards the impression you made at the four corners, cutting just slightly past the impression, bend the triangles back to form a crease and cut as close as you can to it, leaving a lip; then loosen the light switch to the end of it's screws without taking them out altogether and pull the switch plate away from the wall, now with your papering brush tuck the paper behind the switch and re-screw the screws.

When your hanging wallpaper in corners, never try and put the full piece of paper in the corner, put the paper back on the pasting table; lets say you have a gap of 6” to the corner. Your going to cut a 6” wide piece, put that up and then put up the piece that's left over.

First measure the space to the corner at the top the middle and the bottom; taking the widest measurement, say it's 6½” work out which edge of the paper matches with the last piece you put on the wall and place that edge on the edge of your paste table; measure in 6½” and hold the tape with your finger and thumb on the blade, put the point of your shears against the end of the tape and run everything down the length of the paper scoring an impression with the shears. Carefully cut down the impression; put the first piece up and then the off cut which will match. Wallpaper will take a day or so to dry out.

Hanging wallpaper just like riding a bike; the more jobs you do the sooner you'll have the confidence and know how, to wallpaper professionally.


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