Hanging wallpaper can make a big impact on your room depending on the colour and the design. As walls and corners aren’t often straight, don’t rely on them as a guide when you hang paper.
Where to start wallpapering
Ideally begin at the corner and hang your first length of paper on a wall with no doors or windows. That way, you can hang a full length from the ceiling to the top of the skirting-board.
Choose a wall to the right of the window if you’re right-handed or to the left if you’re left-handed. Also, it’s best to work away from the window, so the paper edges don’t cast a shadow if they overlap slightly. And try to avoid having to hang narrow strips against a window or door. If necessary, cut the first length in half vertically along the edge that’ll overlap the corner.
Last but not least, if your wallpaper has a large pattern, it’s a good idea to hang the first length over a fireplace or other focal point. Then work away from it in both directions to make the design central and symmetrical. Complete this area before papering the rest of your room.
How to hang the first length of wallpaper
It makes sense to take your time when hanging wallpaper. Be particularly careful with the first length – it’s important to get that one straight.
Top tip – Wall plug markers
Unscrew all your wall fixings before you start papering, but leave the wall plugs in place. Mark the position of each one by pushing a matchstick (with the head broken off) into the plug, leaving it slightly proud.
As you hang your paper, bring it over the marked position and press the paper onto the matchstick to pierce the paper.
Then smooth the paper with a paperhanging brush. When the paper is quite dry, remove the matchstick and replace the fitting.
Top tip – Keeping your scissors clean
Occasionally dip your wallpaper scissors into a jar of clean, warm water to loosen the build-up of paste.
To position your first length of wallpaper, use a plumb line or spirit level to draw a line from ceiling to skirting board, 480mm out from the corner. This allows a 50mm overlap onto the window wall.
Place your first pasted length at the top of the wall with its right-hand edge running down the vertical line. It’s easier if you can keep the left-hand edge of the paper off the wall.
Try to leave about 50mm of excess paper above the top of the wall for trimming. Hold the paper at both sides and make sure you don’t let the lower paper drop suddenly as it could tear or stretch.
After you’ve lined-up the right-hand edge, smooth the paper down with a paper-hanging brush. Work from the centre of the paper out to the edges, checking there are no bubbles and that the edge stays bang on the pencil mark.
With the first length in place, crease the top and bottom of the paper against the ceiling and skirting board junctions. Gently pull the paper away from the wall and cut along the creases with wallpaper scissors. Then brush the trimmed edges back into place.
Fit the next length against the previous one, matching the pattern at eye level. When you’ve got two or three pieces in place, run the seam roller lightly down the joins. But be careful not to press down too heavily on textured paper or you’ll flatten the pattern.
How to wallpaper in internal corners
When you’re papering in corners, it’s much easier to cut a length of paper vertically and position the join at the corner, especially when your wall is slightly crooked or your corner isn’t completely square. Measure and cut the paper so that it reaches slightly beyond the corner. If the off-cut of paper is half a width or more, then use it as the next length. If it’s even smaller, start with a new length.
Top tip – Uneven walls
If the lines and angles of your walls are uneven, it may be better to choose a plain paper or one with a small, frequently repeated pattern. In particular you should avoid striped papers as these can make irregularities very obvious. Alternatively, you can wallpaper a single feature wall.
Measure the distance between the edge of the last length you’ve hung and the corner at the top, bottom and middle of the wall. Use the widest measurement and allow an extra 25mm for turning onto the next wall. Cut a length of paper to this width.
Then paste and hang the cut length and fit the paper to the edge of the previous strip, aligning the pattern at eye level. Allow the extra 25mm to stick lightly to the next wall, and use a paper-hanging brush to smooth the paper into the internal corner.
Make sure the paper’s firmly pressed against the wall by running the seam roller along its edge. Wipe any excess paste from the roller before it dries. If you spot any creases, tear the paper and overlap the pieces so they lie flat – a tear will show less than if you cut the paper (although it’s better to cut vinyl paper).
Hang the plumb line on the next wall at a distance from the corner that’s either the width of the full paper roll or your offcut (whichever you’re using). Make some pencil marks behind the vertical line at intervals down the wall. This will give you a completely vertical edge for starting the next wall.
Hang the next length with its right-hand edge aligned with the pencil marks and overlap the paper turned from the previous wall. If your paper is patterned, match the two pieces as closely as you can and use border adhesive along the overlapping strip.
How to wallpaper in external corners
You’ll often find that walls and corners aren’t completely straight or at perfect right-angles. If this is the case, you should position an overlapping join at an external corner.
Start by measuring from the edge of the last full width to the corner, and allow an extra 25mm for the turn onto the next wall. Cut a length of wallpaper to this width. Then hang it as far as the corner and bend the excess paper around the corner onto the next wall.
Use a plumb line to get a vertical start on the next wall and lay the paper over the overlapping section of the previous length. Then stick it with border adhesive, which is much better than walppaper paste for sticking paper to paper.
A mismatched pattern is more obvious on an external corner, so you’d be better doing this with small repeated patterns or plain wallpaper. The overlap will also show up more if you’re using textured or flock papers.