Add your own touch to a room with stylish wallpaper
Wallpaper adds a stunning finish to the walls of any room, whether it’s a bold, colourful patterned wallpaper or a subtle, neutral wallpaper. With wallpaper comes the flexibility of wallpapering a whole room or an individual feature wall.
Our extensive range of wallpaper offers a variety of colours, patterns and textures. Choose from styles including floral, geometric, metallic, natural and vintage. Our buyer's guide helps you choose the perfect wallpaper for your room to create the look that you’ll love.
In this guide we’ll walk you through how to:
- Measure and cut wallpaper to the correct lengths
- Apply adhesive to the wallpaper
- Hang the lengths to achieve a straight and smooth finish, on walls and around corners and stairwells
- Tackle awkward areas like radiators, windows, light switches, plug sockets and door frames
- Hang wallpaper to create a feature wall
For this project we’ll be using paste the paper wallpaper, which needs to have adhesive applied to the back of it before hanging. The alternatives are paste the wall paper, which means that you apply the wallpaper adhesive to the wall instead of the paper, and self-adhesive wallpaper. For pasting the wall we recommend applying the adhesive with a roller.
Before you begin
There are some tasks that you may need to do before hanging your wallpaper. Check our list to ensure your walls are fully ready for wallpaper. With this guide you will get the best finish possible, and avoid any nasty surprises further into the project!
- Have you removed any existing wallpaper? Doing this will give you a smooth finish and avoids air bubbles and creases appearing when you hang the new wallpaper. Our guide on how to remove wallpaper will walk you through this task.
Are your walls freshly plastered? If so, have you sealed them with wall sealer? Applying wall sealer, also known as wall size, seals the porous surface of the wall and improves the adhesion of the wallpaper paste. It also aids the slide of the wallpaper, useful when you’re matching patterns or hanging it in awkward areas like window recesses.
- Have you lined the walls with lining paper? Hanging lining paper prevents the new wallpaper from shrinking when it’s hung, which leads to gaps between the lengths of paper. You may also want to hang lining paper if your walls have any stains or small imperfections in the surface, as it will help to disguise this.
- Do you have enough wallpaper? Measure your walls to find out how much wallpaper you need to buy.
Our wallpaper calculator helps to estimate the amount of wallpaper you’ll need for your project. When you measure the height and length of the walls you want to wallpaper, also measure the windows and doors - the calculator will do the calculations for you. Allow extra for wastage (we recommend 10% extra, and any unopened rolls can be returned, see terms and conditions). Also, allow for extra when using paper with a large repeat pattern – the pattern repeat is usually stated on the roll label or product information.
Are all the rolls of wallpaper the same batch number? Make sure all the rolls have the same batch number printed on the label, as the colours and in some instances, the finish, can vary between batches.
- Have you planned how you’re going to hang the wallpaper? We recommend hanging wallpaper vertically unless the pattern requires it to be hung horizontally. If hanging over lining paper, hanging it in the opposite direction to the lining paper means that the seams won’t fall in the same place and create ridges.
- Do you have any fixings on the walls? If so, unscrew the fixings before papering, leaving the wall plugs in place. Mark the position of each one by pushing a matchstick (with the head broken off) into the plug. Leave it slightly proud so you can find the hole and reuse it later.
- Keep adhesives, chemicals and scissors out of reach of children
- Always ensure good ventilation during application and drying of wallpaper adhesives
- If hanging wallpaper around a stairwell, get someone to help you as you’ll be working at height with heavy lengths of wallpaper.
You will need
- Wallpaper adhesive - also known as wallpaper paste , use a heavy-duty adhesive if the paper is a high-grade, thick paper. Check that you get the correct adhesive for the type of wallpaper you are using
- Overlap and border adhesive
- Wooden batten - a long thin piece of wood to stop the paper rolling up as you apply the adhesive
- Small nail -to temporarily fix the plumb line in place. We recommend a wire nail about 25mm long
- Dusting cloth or feather duster – to dust behind radiators before hanging wallpaper
- Scaffold board - if wallpapering a tall hallway/stairwell
- Large cloth – if hanging wallpaper around a stairwell, to wrap around a ladder to protect the wall
- Rope – if hanging wallpaper around a stairwell, to secure a platform to a ladder
- Dust sheets
- Step ladder
- Combination ladder with stair function – if hanging wallpaper around a stairwell
- Plumb line - also known as a plumb bob and line
- Claw hammer
- Long spirit level
- Wallpaper cutting guide
- Rule - or you could use the wallpaper cutting guide’s ruler (above)
- Paper hanging brush
- Wallpaper smoother - an alternative to a paper hanging brush if you’re hanging non-textured wallpaper
- Pasting brush
- Pasting table
- Tape measure
- Wallpaper scissors
- Utility knife
- Seam roller
- Large sponge
- Radiator paint roller - if required to apply wallpaper behind a radiator
- Screwdriver – to unscrew light switch faceplates
How to measure and cut the wallpaper
Measuring your wallpaper correctly is essential to avoid wasting paper. Measure the wall at your starting point, from the ceiling to the top of the skirting board.
Measure the height of the wall with a tape measure. If you are wallpapering a large area measure the height of the wall in several places, as it could differ if the wall is not completely straight. Add 100mm to the measurement, to allow for the variations in height. This can be trimmed from the top and bottom later.
Unroll the paper on the pasting table, pattern-side down. Draw a straight line with a pencil and ruler across the width at the measured point.
Using wallpaper scissors, cut the first length.
Turn the cut length over. Unroll the next length, place it edge-to-edge with the first length, and match the pattern. Use the cut length as a guide to cut the second length. Continue cutting several lengths.
Number the lengths at the top corner on the back so you know the hanging order and the orientation of the paper.
How to apply adhesive and fold the wallpaper
Mix the wallpaper adhesive according to the instructions on the packaging.
Lay the cut length on the pasting table (pattern-side down), so that the paper hangs over the end of the table. If required, use a wooden batten (thin piece of timber) or weight to stop the end from rolling up. Keep the long edge flush against the edge of the pasting table, to avoid getting adhesive on the front of the wallpaper.
Apply the adhesive in the centre of the sheet and brush it out towards the edge that’s lined-up with the edge of the table.
Work the adhesive from the middle to the edges of the paper in a herringbone pattern (pictured). Between lengths, wipe any adhesive spills off the table with a clean, damp sponge.
When the first half is done, line up the opposite edge of the paper with the other side of the paste table and paste outwards from the centre.
When the paper covering the table has been pasted, fold it over on itself and start a concertina (pictured). Move the concertina to one end of the table, using the timber batten to stop the unpasted end rolling up.
Apply adhesive to the entire length, folding the paper as you go. Lift the completed concertina and set it aside to allow the adhesive to soak into the paper. It should soak for as long as the manufacturer recommends on the product instructions. The paper needs time to expand before it is hung. This process is known as soaking and it prevents bubbles appearing as the paper continues to expand on the wall.
Apply adhesive to a few cut lengths for one wall.
How to hang the first length of wallpaper
Ideally, start at a corner and hang the first length of wallpaper on a wall that has neither door nor window. This is so you can hang a full length from the ceiling to the top of the skirting board. Work away from windows, so that the paper edges will not cast a shadow if they overlap slightly.
If you are creating a feature wall it could be better to start in the centre of that wall and work outwards. Particularly if the wallpaper is patterned, so that the design is central and symmetrical. Find more advice for this in the ‘How to create a feature wall’ section.
The first length of the wallpaper is the most important as it needs to be hung straight. If it is not straight, then the following lengths of wallpaper also won’t be straight.
Walls and corners are rarely straight, so don’t rely on them as a guide when hanging paper. We’ll walk you through the steps for ensuring that the first length of wallpaper is hung straight using a plumb line.
Check the width of your lining paper and subtract 50mm from the width to allow for a 50mm overlap onto the adjacent wall. Measure the remaining width out from the edge of the wall (near to the ceiling) using a tape measure or ruler and mark it with a pencil.
For example, if your lining paper is 530mm wide, mark 480mm out from the edge of the wall. This leaves 50mm for the overlap.
Hammer a small nail into the wall near the ceiling in line with the mark, and hang the plumb line from the nail.
Use a pencil to mark the wall down the length of the line, then join up the marks with a long ruler.
Position the first pasted length at the top of the wall with its right-hand edge running down the vertical line. This is easier if you can keep the left-hand edge of the paper off the wall. You’ll have 50mm extra at the top, bottom and left-hand edge that will overlap onto the ceiling, skirting board and adjacent wall.
Hold the paper at both sides and don’t let the lower paper drop suddenly, as it may tear or stretch.
Use a paper hanging brush (or you could use a wallpaper smoother tool if your wallpaper is non-textured) to smooth down the wallpaper and get rid of any air bubbles underneath. Work from the centre of the paper to the edges, making sure that there are no bubbles. Check the right-hand edge stays on the pencil mark.
If you need to, use a damp sponge to wipe off any surplus adhesive as you go, but don’t rub it with a dry cloth as it won't come off.
With the first length in place, use the back of closed wallpaper scissors to crease the top of the paper against the ceiling junction. Gently pull the paper away from the wall and cut along the creases with the scissors. Brush the trimmed edges back into place and wipe off any adhesive from the ceiling with a damp sponge.
Top tip: Keep scissors clean
Occasionally dip your wallpaper scissors into a jar of clean, warm water.
This stops them getting clogged up with a build-up of wallpaper adhesive.
To fit the paper alongside the skirting board, use a wallpaper cutting guide. Hold the guide against the skirting board (or it can be used on a picture rail or coving) and tuck the paper into the crease of the guide. Trim the paper with a utility knife.
How to hang the remaining wallpaper
Line up the next length against the previous one, matching the pattern at eye level. Repeat steps 4 to 7 of the previous section to hang the paper and cut off the overlaps.
When two or three pieces are in place, run the seam roller lightly down the joins. Don’t press down heavily on textured paper or you’ll flatten the pattern.
When you reach parts of the walls where you have put matchsticks in place of fixtures and hangings, hang the wallpaper over the top. Press the wallpaper onto the matchstick, so it pierces the paper. Smooth the paper with a paper hanging brush. When the paper is quite dry, remove the matchstick and replace the fitting.
How to hang wallpaper behind a radiator
Smoothing wallpaper behind a radiator is a fiddly job. These steps will walk you through the options of hanging wallpaper behind a radiator for the best finish.
Ideally, you should drain the radiator and take it off the wall. Our guide on how to replace a radiator includes steps for draining and removing a radiator.
If that is not possible, turn off the heat and wait for the radiator to cool. Then hoover out the inevitable cobwebs and dust behind it. You then have a couple of options:
Option 1: Cut the wallpaper to fit behind the radiator. This approach can be more fiddly but means that the whole section behind the radiator is wallpapered. This is best when you can see behind the radiator from side-on, for example if is on the wall adjacent to the door.
- Option 2: Cut an additional piece of wallpaper to hang behind the bottom of the radiator, leaving a gap behind the radiator without wallpaper. This is the easier option and can be sufficient if the radiator is in a place where you’re unlikely to be able to see behind it.
Hang the length of paper on the wall as usual, letting the bottom section cover the radiator. Mark the position of the fixing brackets on the paper. Then cut from the bottom up to the pencil marks. Cut out a rectangular shape to accommodate the bracket.
Push the paper into place each side of the supporting bracket using a narrow radiator paint roller. Trim the paper at the skirting board using scissors or a cutting guide.
Hang the length of paper on the wall as usual, and cut the paper horizontally about 150mm below the top of the radiator.
Cut another length to fit the gap at the bottom of the radiator.
Use a clean and dry radiator paint roller to push, guide and smooth the wallpaper into place.
How to hang wallpaper in corners
When wallpapering a room you’ll probably meet a few obstacles including corners. If you know the right techniques, you can achieve a neat result.
There are two types of corners:
- Internal corner: The corner join between two walls, for example the corner of a room.
- External corner: Outward-facing corner, for example the corner of a feature wall.
At an internal corner, the wall may not be completely straight. We’ll walk you through hanging the wallpaper with an overlap onto the adjacent wall. This allows for variations in the wall.
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 smaller than that, then start with a new length.
Measure the distance between the edge of the last hung length and the corner, at the top, bottom and middle of the wall. Using the widest measurement, allow an extra 25mm for turning on to the next wall.
Cut a length of paper to your required measurement.
Paste and hang the cut length, butting the paper to the edge of the previous strip and aligning the pattern at eye level. Allow the extra 25mm to stick lightly to the next wall. Use a paper hanging brush to smooth the paper into the internal corner.
Make sure that the paper is firmly pressed against the wall by running the seam roller along its edge. Wipe excess paste from the roller before it dries.
If any small creases have formed in the strip that you’re overlapping, tear the paper slightly and overlap the pieces so they lie flat. A tear will show less than if you leave the crease or if you cut the paper (although it is better to cut vinyl paper).
Hang the plumb line on the next wall at a distance from the corner that is either the width of the full paper roll or your off-cut, whichever you are using. Make 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 of wallpaper with its right-hand edge aligned with the pencil marks, overlapping the paper turned from the previous wall. If the paper is patterned, match the two pieces as closely as possible.
Use overlap and border adhesive along the overlapping strip, as this sticks paper to paper better than standard wallpaper adhesive.
Walls and corners are often not absolutely straight or at perfect right angles. To allow for this, you should also position an overlapping join at an external corner – as at an internal corner, above.
Measure from the edge of the last full width to the corner, then allow an extra 25mm for the turn on to the next wall.
Cut a length to this width. Hang it as far as the corner, then bend the excess paper around the corner onto the next wall.
Use a plumb line to get a vertical start on the next wall (see Step 3, above), and lay the paper over the overlapping section of the previous length.
Use border adhesive to stick paper to paper.
How to hang wallpaper around a door frame
It is easier to paper around a door frame if you cut the wallpaper roughly to size before smoothing it into position. This makes it more manageable to fit, especially at the corners.
Paste and hang the paper in the usual way, aligning the pattern at eye level and butting the paper to the edge of the previous strip.
Trim the excess from around the frame leaving roughly a 50mm overhang of paper over the door frame.
Smooth the paper first up to an external corner, if there is one, and then up to the door frame.
Use a paper hanging brush to smooth and press the paper into the edge of the door frame.
At the top corner of the door, cut a diagonal line in the wallpaper to the corner of the door. Then smooth the paper onto the wall above the door.
Use the wallpaper cutting guide and a utility knife to cut off the excess wallpaper at the top of the door frame.
Gently press the cutting guide into the join of the wall and down the door frame. Trim off the excess with a utility knife (as shown), but don't use this method if there are any cables clipped to the edge of the doorframe.
Instead, gently press a line into the paper along the edge of the frame using the rounded back of the wallpaper scissors. Lift the edge of the paper off from the wall and trim neatly along this line with the scissors.
Brush the paper back in place and wipe off any excess glue with a damp sponge.
How to hang wallpaper around light switches or plug sockets
Every room has light switches and sockets – there’s no avoiding them. So it’s worth knowing how to deal with them. Always switch off the electricity at the mains before you start work.
Hang the wallpaper from the top of the wall straight over the switch or socket.
Brush gently over the fitting with a dry paper hanging brush to make a slight impression on the paper. Take care not to tear it.
Holding the paper over the fitting, use a pencil to mark the corners of the faceplate.
Pierce a hole in the paper at the centre point with a pair of scissors. Cut the paper outwards to the corners (but not all the way) and fold back the flaps.
Trim the flaps just inside the outer edge of the switch or socket. This is to ensure there is an overlap of about 5mm covering the fitting.
Partially unscrew the faceplate and pull it about 6mm away from the wall.
Carefully ease the faceplate through the hole in the paper. Use the brush or wallpaper smoother to push the trimmed edges gently behind the faceplate and smooth away any air bubbles.
Put the faceplate back in place and secure the screws.
Let the paste dry before turning the electricity back on.
How to hang wallpaper around windows
Wallpapering around windows is a job that needs special care. We recommend that you:
- Cut the lengths of wallpaper roughly to size before you apply the adhesive.
- Make small cuts and try to fit the paper several times if necessary, rather than cut away too much in one go.
- Apply wall sealer to the surface because this will make it easier to peel back and reposition the paper.
- Use small scissors as the paper will be soft and tear easily when pasted. Small scissors are the best tool for cutting around fiddly corners and mouldings.
Paste and hang the wallpaper in the ordinary way as far as the frame. Push the paper around the windowsill to form a highlight of the shape with the paper hanging brush.
Make a diagonal cut down to the corner where the wall and windowsill meet.
Smooth the paper with the paper hanging brush around the corner of the window reveal. Make a vertical cut to the top of the reveal, leaving an extra 30mm for turnaround.
Make diagonal cuts in towards the next part of the moulding. Continue snipping around the corner of the windowsill. If necessary, press in with your fingers to mould the outline in the paper. Pull the paper away and cut along the outline using scissors.
Press the paper into the angle with the rounded back of the scissors to mark a cutting line.
Smooth the paper with the paper hanging brush, using the bristles to press the paper around the corner.
Measure the width of the window reveal and cut a new strip of wallpaper 30mm wider and 60mm longer than the reveal, taking care to match the pattern.
Paste and hang the paper in the ordinary way, neatly trimming off all the excess paper. If the paste on the paper starts to dry before you have finished trimming, apply extra paste to the wall rather than the paper. Where you are sticking paper over paper use a stronger border adhesive.
At the top of the window, beside the length you’ve just hung beside the window, measure the distance from the top of the wall to the top of the window. Add 60mm to the length – 30mm will overlap onto the ceiling and be trimmed off, the other 30mm will overlap into the window reveal.
Cut the required length of wallpaper and apply adhesive. Hang and smooth down.
Repeat for the required number of lengths to fit the width of the top of the window.
Measure the size of the window reveal at the top of the window. Cut a new strip of wallpaper 30mm wider and 60mm longer than the reveal, taking care to match the pattern.
Paste and hang the piece of wallpaper in the top window reveal and trim off the excess.
Repeat steps 1 to 8 for the other side of the window.
Wipe the paste off the woodwork and any excess adhesive on the paper before it can dry with a damp sponge.
How to hang wallpaper around a stairwell
It can be challenging to hang wallpaper around a stairwell as it is harder to reach the top of the walls. We’ll talk you through making a platform so you can hang wallpaper safely.
You are working with heavy lengths of pasted paper. If possible, get someone to stand on the stairs and hold the bulk of the paper while you hang the top part.
Making a platform
You need to be able to reach the head wall and the well wall from a safe working platform. The head wall is the wall above the stairs, and the well wall is the wall beside the stairs. (See diagram)
Place a step ladder on the top landing. Wrap the end of a ladder in a cloth (to protect the wall) and lean it against the head wall. Ensure the ladder feet resting against a riser (the back of the step) halfway down the stairs.
Lay a scaffold board between the two ladders.
Tie the board to the ladders with rope to stop them slipping. Use one board on top of another if the gap between the steps and the ladder is more than 1.5 metres (m).
Hanging the paper
Follow the same principles of hanging wallpaper. Including marking a vertical starting line using a plumb line for the first length.
Measure the longest drop first and cut the wallpaper to the required length. Make sure to add excess as the skirting board will be at an angle.
Begin hanging the paper at the top of the wall, allowing the folded length to hang. Unfold it as you work down the wall. If you have someone helping you, they can fix the lower half in place. If the stairwell is deep, remove the ladder and place one end of the scaffold board on a stair tread. Place the other end on the bottom of the stairs. This way you can reach the lower half of the wall.
When papering the head wall, you might need to move the ladder after fitting the first length. Take your time and ensure the ladders are secure every time they are moved.
How to create a feature wall with wallpaper
Ideally, the first length should be positioned in the middle of the wall so that the paper is hung symmetrically. Particularly if the wallpaper is patterned.
But do check that this won’t leave you with tiny strips at the sides. Measure out wallpaper widths (usually 530mm) along the wall to be sure and adjust the start point accordingly.
Find the centre of the wall by measuring the full width and dividing in half. Measure and mark the centre point with a pencil at the top of the wall.
Check the width of a roll of wallpaper and divide this number by two. Measure this distance from the centre mark and make another pencil mark at the top of the wall.
Hang a plumb line at this second mark and use a pencil to mark the vertical at roughly 600mm intervals down the wall.
Join up the marks with a pencil and straightedge.
Starting at the top of the wall, hang the first length of wallpaper. Slide it into position against the marked vertical line.