Wall Papering Stair Wells

Paperhanging in stairwells is no different in principle from work in any other room. However, the job is made more difficult by the need to handle longer lengths of wall covering, and also because access to the higher reaches of the stairwell walls can be awkward. It is a job that requires careful planning, and is best tackled with the assistance of a second person.

First of all, work out the starting point. It is best to hang the longest drop – the one that reaches from landing ceiling to hall floor — first of all. Mark its position and check that other joins will not fall awkwardly round the rest of the stairwell, especially if it has a window opening onto it. Adjust if necessary.

The next thing to do is to work out how to gain access to the various wall surfaces involved without obstructing passage up and down the stairwell or blocking off the walls themselves. On a straight flight it may be possible to use components from a hired slot-together scaffold tower to make a suitable working platform. On flights with quarter or frail-landings it will probably be necessary to tailor-make an assembly of ladder sections, stepladders, homemade supports and scaffold boards; two typical arrangements are shown below. Nail scrap wood to stair treads to locate ladder feet securely, and lock scaffold boards together by drilling holes through them where they overlap and dropping a bolt through the holes (no need for a nut). Note that ladders or steps shown resting against wall surfaces will have to be repositioned as the work progresses

Aim to start work by hanging the longest drop first. Then work along the stairwell walls in sequence, turning along the stairwell walls in sequence, turning corners and tackling obstacles as for other rooms.

1. Fold up long lengths of wall covering concertina-fashion with the top end of the length uppermost, and carry them to the end of the length on the stairwell wall

2. Get a helper to support the folds of wall covering while positioning the top end of the length on the stairwell wall against a vertical line

3. When measuring lengths that will meet a dado (chair) rail or skirting (baseboard) at an angle, remember to measure the longer edge of the length.

4. Where the bottom edge of the length nests a shaped skirting, make small release emits in the edge and trim it to allow the curve.


Use a selection of ladders, steps, scaffold boards and homemade supports to construct a platform that allows access to all the wall surfaces being decorated without obstructing the stairs themselves.

Where the end of a handrail fits flush with the wall, cut the lower part of the length into two sit-ups so their edges can he trimmed around the rail and joined edge-to-edge beneath it. Use a similar technique to hide the wall covering around a flush newel post.