How to hang wallpaper

June 30th, 2020

The traditional method for papering a room is to work away from light, i.e. windows, but you may find it easier to paper the longest uninterrupted wall to get used to the basic techniques before tackling corners or obstructions.

For boldly patterned wallcoverings, take something like a chimney breast as a focal point (choose a suitable wall if there is no chimney) and start the “setting out” from there.

With a bold design, always cut the first length so that when it is hung and finally trimmed top and bottom, there will be a complete motif at the top of the wall.

Before cutting the next lengths, ensure that the pattern matches up with previous ones.

Ideally finish in the corner, behind a door.

Farrow and Ball Gable Wallpaper.
Farrow and Ball Gable Wallpaper.

Getting it straight

Few walls are truly square or perfectly vertical. To overcome this and avoid your pattern going askew, mark a vertical pencil line against a plumb line or long spirit level adjacent to where the first length is to hang. (You can make your own plumb line with a weight attached to a thin string). Allow the plumb to swing freely until it is at rest before putting a pencil mark down the wall behind the string.

Repeat the process on every wall.

Use a roll of paper to mark the wall one width away from the corner – less 13mm (1/2”) for an overlap onto the return wall – or chosen starting point. Using a plumb line, lightly pencil some guide marks from ceiling to skirting.

Measure your first length, allowing an extra 50mm (2”) at the top and bottom and cut on the table. For best results, ensure the whole pattern appears in full at the top of the wall.

Layla Faye is exclusive to Brewers.
Layla Faye is exclusive to Brewers.


Lay the wallcovering face down on the pasting table. Mark the top of the paper on the back with a ‘T’ for Top to avoid confusion when you start to hang.

Align the wallcovering with far edge of table, apply paste (especially to the far edge) by brushing away from center to the far edge, covering in a herring-bone pattern. Take care not to pull the brush over the edge of the paper, getting paste on the surface. When complete, pull the wallcovering to front of table and paste in the same way, ensuring the near edge is fully pasted.

Fold over, slide length on and continue pasting until the full cut length is complete, ensuring a good even coat of paste on the whole of the paper.

For long drops, as on a stairwell, fold the paper concertina fashion. Carry the drop draped over your arm.

Always leave paper to soak in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.

Take care not to get paste on the surface of the paper as it could damage the finish if not removed. Use a clean bucket of water and a sponge to clean it off the surface. Do not scrub it – let the water in the sponge dilute the paste and absorb it back into the sponge.

Albany Simplicity from Brewers.
Albany Simplicity from Brewers.

Papering a wall

Having pasted the paper and allowed it to soak, in line with the manufacturer’s instructions, hang the top fold against the plumbed line and brush out from the centre, working down.

When the paper is smoothly brushed down, run the outer edge of your scissors along the ceiling angle, peel away the paper, cut off the excess along the crease, then brush back onto the wall. Alternatively, use a sharp blade and a straight edge. If using a snap-off blade, change the blade regularly.

At the skirting, tap your brush gently into the top edge, peel away the paper and cut along the folded line with scissors or blade as before, then brush back.

Using a sponge and a bucket of clean water, make sure you remove all the paste from the surface of the paper, skirting and ceiling if necessary. Cut your next piece, allowing for pattern repeat, paste and soak as before. Hang, butting up to the first, taking care to match the pattern.

Do not overlap and continue this process to the next corner.