Wallpapering Tips

The first length of wall covering must be hung correctly if the decoration of the rest of the room is to go according to plan. The first thing to do, therefore, is to decide on exactly where to hang this. The usual starting point is close to the door, just less than the wall-covering’s width away from the frame, so that the inevitable pattern discontinuity that will occur on returning to the starting point can be concealed on the short join above the door. If you are using a wall covering with a large design motif in a room which has a chimney breast (fireplace projection), it is preferable to start paperhanging on the chimney breast itself so that the design can he centre don it. When papering only part of a room, the starting point should be just less than the width of the wall covering from one corner of the room, to allow the edge of the covering to be trimmed accurately into the corner angle.

Next, use a roll of wall covering as a yardstick and mark off successive widths around the room walls with a pencil to check that there will not be any joins on external corners such as the sides of window reveals. If these occur, move the starting point along by about 5 cm/2 in and then re-check the positions of the joins all round.

Finally, mark a true vertical line on the wall at the chosen starting point, using a pencil and a plumb bob and line. Failure to do this could result in the pattern starting to run seriously out of alignment as you hang successive lengths, with disastrous results.

Paperhanging on flat, uninterrupted walls is quite straightforward, calling only for the basic positioning and trimming techniques. Turning corners is only slightly more difficult. The trouble is that rooms also contain doors and windows, as well as wall-mounted fittings and fixtures such as light switches and socket outlets (receptacles). Papering around these obstacles can be fairly tricky, but there are procedures for dealing with them successfully.

Doors and window frames fitted flush with the internal wall surface present few problems; all that is necessary here is 10 trim the wall coveting so that it finishes flush with the edge of the architrave (trim) or casing. Where the window or door is recessed, however, you will need to do some careful patching-in of extra pieces in order to cover all the surfaces of the reveal. It is also important in this case to select the correct starting point, to avoid joins between lengths falling on the external corners of such reveals; always check this point before beginning paper-hanging, and adjust the starting point by about 5 cm/2 in if it will occur.

Paperhanging around electrical fittings (fixtures) is fairly easy. Always turn off the power supply to the accessory first. The idea is to make diagonal cuts over the faceplate, cutaway most of the resulting triangular tongues and tuck what remains behind the loosened faceplate. Do nor do this with vinyl (Oils, which can conduct electricity; instead, simply trim the covering flush with the edges of the accessory faceplate. In the USA, it is possible to remove wall plates and socket outlets separately without disconnecting the wall receptacles or switches, which makes the task of paperhanging around them much simpler.

Other paperhanging techniques

As well as the traditional method of pasting the wall covering on a pasting table and then hanging it, you may sometimes also need to use 2 other techniques. The first is hanging ready-pasted wall coverings, which are growing in popularity, and the second is hanging specialty wall coverings.

Hanging ready-pasted wall coverings could not be easier. The back of the wall covering usually a washable or vinyl type— is coated during manufacture with an even layer of dried paste. To activate this, simply cut the length that you need, roll it up with the top of the length on the outside of the roll, and immerse it in water. Special soaking troughs are sold by most wall-covering suppliers, and are intended to be placed next to the skirting (baseboard) beneath the point at which the length is to be hung. Fill the trough with cold (not hot) water, immerse the length and then draw it upwards on to the wall so that all the excess water drains back into the soaking trough. Hang and trios the covering in the usual way.

Many specialty wall coverings are designed to be hung by pasting the wall itself, rather than the covering, which some people find easier. Some types of coverings also have untrimmed edges, which need to he cut after overlapping adjoining lengths, but this is simple to do.


1. At your chosen starting point, use a plumb bob and line to mark a vertical line on the wall surface. Join up the pencil marks using a straightedge.

2. Fetch the first length of pasted wall covering, having left it to soak for the time recommended on the label. Carry it draped over your arm.

3. Unfold the upper flap and press the top edge of the length against the wall. Slide it across the well until the edge lines up with your marked line. Use a paperhanging brush (or a sponge for washables and vinyls)to smooth the covering into place, working from the middle outwards

4. Use a pencil or the curved back of paperhanging-scissors blades to mark thetrittuning line at ceiling level. Do the same at floor level.

5. Peel the end of the length away from the wall so that you can trim the excess using scissors. Brush the end hack into place. Repeat at the bottom.

6. Hang the near drop with the lengths exactly edge to edge. Brush the wall covering into the wall/ceiling angle and into the internal angle.

7. On the wall coverings, run a scant roller down the joins to ensure that they stick securely. Never use a steam roller on embossed or relief wall coverings, as this will affect the pattern.


1. Place the trough next to the wall, fill it with cold water and immerse the rolled-up length in it, with the top end outermost, for the recommended time.

2. At the end of the soaking time, grasp the top end of the length and draw it upwards so that the excess water runs off and back into the trough.

3. Slide the nip of the length into position on the wall, aligning it with a marked line or butting it up against its neighbour. Take care not to step in the trough.

4. Use a sponge rather than a paperhanging brush to smooth the length into place on the wall — this will help to absorb excess water from the surface.


1. On reaching a flush door or a window frame, hang the previous length as normal. Then hang the next length to overlap the door or window frame.

2. Cut away the unwanted wall covering to within about 2.5 cm/i in of the edge of the architrave (trim) or window casing, and discard the waste strip.

3. Press the covering against the frame so that its corner is visible, and make a diagonal cut from the waste edge of the paper to the mark.

4. Use a paperhanging brush to press the tongues of paper well into the angles between the wall and the door architrave or window casing.

5. Carefully peel hack the tongues and cut along the marked lines with paperhanging scissors. Brush the trimmed edges back into position.


1. On reaching a recessed door or window frame, hang the previous length as normal. Then hang the next length, allowing it to overlap the recess.

2. Carefully make a horizontal cut into the overlapping edge, level with the underside of the reveal, to allow the central portion of the length to cover the side wall.

3. On a recessed window, make a similar cut lower down the length, level with the top surface of the window sill. Trim it to fit round the end of the sill.

4. Cut a patch CO fit on the underside of the reveal, hip, enough to turn on to the adjoining wall and frame surfaces. Press it well into the internal angles.

5. Tear along the edges of the patch that will be covered when you brush the piece above the reveal and the tongue covering its side wall into place.

6. Trim the edges of the patch and tongue to meet the frame neatly. Hang full widths when you reach the other side of the reveal, and repeat steps 1-6.


Always turn off the power supply before you begin. Make diagonal cuts in the paper towards the corners, trim off the triangles and tuck the edges behind the loosened faceplate.