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Hanging wallpaper is tricky job if you don’t know how to do it. But with this guide you should be able to paper a room with some skill and save yourself a sizeable decorator's bill.

Plain lining paper is best for your first attempt because there is no pattern to match up, and it will strip off easily or form the ideal backing for proper wallpaper.

“Buy all the paper you need in one go and check the batch numbers are the same,” advises Channel 4’s Design & Style website.

It might also be a good idea to get a friend to help you with the wallpapering as you will have to climb the step to hang the paper and it will be much easier if you have someone to pass you paper, your bush knife and other tools.

You will need:

  • Wallpaper paste
  • Bucket and wide brush
  • Paper-hanging scissors and sponge
  • Pasting table
  • Plumb bob or spirit level
  • Steel ruler and a pencil
  • Steps
  • Tape measure
  • Trimming knife

Getting started

If the room has a chimney breast, start there. Find the centre of its width and draw a straight line through it from top to bottom. This will be where two sheets will meet.

If you have no chimney breast, choose a corner in which to begin. Measure outwards the width of the wallpaper, less about 2cm. Draw a vertical line, which the paper will go flush against, leaving a small strip to fold round onto the perpendicular wall.

Measure the height of the wall and cut a strip of paper about 10cm longer. It might be a good idea to cut enough strips to do a whole wall before you start pasting and hanging. Cover its reverse side well with paste, brushing down the length of its middle and then out to the edges. Use bulldog clips to hold the paper on the table as you paste it and don’t mix old and new paste – just make enough paste to cover one wall at a time.

Placing on the wall

Carry the paper, loosely folded over, to the wall and up your steps. Let the fold drop out and hold the top edge of the paper against the wall, with about 5cm overlapping onto the ceiling. Slide the paper across the pencil line.

Use your brush to smooth out any bubbles. Work down the centre and then out to the edges. Crease the paper into the angles between the wall, ceiling and skirting board. Peel back the paper and trim it along the creases, and then brush the trimmed ends into place.

Repeat this process for the rest of the room, taking extra care to align any pattern on the paper.


If there are any left in the paper once your have finished the room, don’t worry. The vast majority will disappear as the paper dries overnight. If any remain, cut a cross in the dry paper over the bubble with a sharp knife, fold back the paper and brush paste on the wall. Smooth down.

Tricky bits

Windows. If your windows are more or less flush with the internal face of the wall, paper up to the window frames as if you were papering around a door.

When a window is set back into the wall, it leaves a narrow strip of wall all around, known as the reveal. Hang the full strip of wallpaper next to the window and make two horizontal cuts in the paper overlapping the reveal, one just above the top of the window and another along the underside of the sill.

Fold and brush the flap of paper onto the side of the reveal. Crease and trim off the waste at the window frame. Brush the paper into place below the window, trimming to fit as required.

Cut a small piece of wallpaper from your roll to match the width of the overlap above the reveal. Paste this to the underside of the reveal and wrap it around the front corner, tucking it under the paper pasted above.

Trim off the waste next to the window frame. Where one piece of thick paper overlaps another, cut through both layers with a sharp knife to make a matching butt joint. Remove the waste and press down along the joint.

Doors. Butt the strip of paper against its neighbour in the usual way, allowing the other edge to overlap the doorframe. Make a diagonal cut in the waste towards the corner of the doorframe. Brush the paper down against the side of the frame. Make a crease with your scissors and cut off the waste.

Smooth down what's left of the strip above the door and then trim off the waste, leaving a 2cm overlap pasted to the top of the frame.

Continue with short strips over the door, hanging the next full strip down the other side of the doorframe. Crease and trim off the waste as before.

Light switches. Turn off the electricity at the mains. Press the paper against the faceplate to reveal its outline, lift it away and pierce a hole in the centre of the impression. Make a diagonal cut from the hole to just beyond each corner mark, and cut off all but about 1cm of each flap. Unscrew the faceplate a little so you can tuck the flaps behind it. Tighten the screws and turn the electricity back on.

Internal corners. Cut the strip of paper lengthwise, allowing only about 2cm to turn the corner. If the off-cut is wide enough, paste it onto the adjacent wall, covering the overlap in the corner. Mark a plumbed guideline on the wall to make sure the off-cut is vertical.

External corners. Cut the strip to width, leaving a 3cm overlap to wrap around the corner. Hang the off-cut on the adjacent wall so that it overlaps the turned edge by about 1cm.

Radiators. Ideally, you should drain a radiator and take it off the wall so that you can paper behind it. But if that isn’t possible, paste the strip of paper to the wall above the radiator, which you have allowed to cool. Slit the paper from the bottom edge so that you can smooth it down on either side of the radiator's fixing brackets. Press the paper into place behind the radiator.

Further Reading


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