DIY Calendar: October - Hanging Wallpaper Like a Pro

With the changing of the seasons, many people find themselves craving a change of scenery in their homes too.  One way to achieve this is by sprucing up the wallpaper in their kitchen and living room.  Washable wallpapers can last a long time, but eventually you will want to get rid of your old designs and replace them with something a little different.

If you choose clean and simple designs, you'll find that they're quite versatile, and you can get a lot of mileage out of them by changing your curtains, window blinds, or paintings over the course of the following year.

How to Hang Wallpaper Like a Pro

When you're buying wallpaper, you should read the label carefully.  If the wallpaper is fairly plain then you may be able to just hang it strip by strip, without worrying too much about how the pattern matches up.  However, if the pattern repeats throughout the roll, you'll have to cut the roll in multiples of whatever the length of the pattern is.  This means that you may end up wasting a lot of paper, and you'll need to buy more rolls than you expect.  Calculate the amount of paper you need carefully, and buy at least one extra roll, just in case you make mistakes.

Rolls of wallpaper Rolls of wallpaper. Photo: Craig Sunter

It's better to buy more paper than you need than it is to risk running short; when you buy paper, the store gives you rolls with the same batch number.  If you run out, and come back a few weeks later, they may not have rolls from that batch available, and paper from a different batch might be a slightly different shade.  While the rolls are on the rack, this might not stand out, but when two sheets from different batches are next to each other on the wall, it can look horrible!

Once Again, Preparation!

As usual, careful preparation is essential.  You need to make sure that your walls are clean and smooth before you start work.  You should also make sure that you have plenty of space to work with, and that nothing will get in the way when you're hanging the paper.

To start work, you will need:

  • A bucket (for the paste)
  • A wooden spoon or other stirring device
  • A few different sizes of brush
  • A large, flat table for pasting the wallpaper
  • A tape measure
  • A long ruler and a pencil
  • Some string, and a small weight
  • A trimming knife and a pair of scissors
  • A sponge

If the room you're going to be papering has a chimney breast, use that as a starting point.  Draw a line down the middle of the chimney breast - that's where two sheets will meet. Tie a weight to the string and use that as a plumb so that you can make sure that line is straight.  Use that as a starting point to make sure that all the sheets are straight up-and-down.  This may leave you with a slight overlap at the floor or ceiling.  Use a knife to trim those bits off.

If the wallpaper pattern repeats, say every 70cm, then you should cut the wallpaper in multiples of 70 - so if your wall is 2m45cm from floor to skirting board, don't just cut 2m45cm, cut 2m80 (which is 4x70cm), and match up the pattern on the previous sheet, then trim the excess off the bottom once the paper is on the wall.

Once you've cut the wallpaper, cover it with paste (starting at the inside and working out), and then place the paper on the wall.  Slide the paper slowly into place, and then gently smooth out any bubbles.  Try to get rid of as many bubbles as you can while the paste is still wet, but don't worry if you can't get rid of them all.

Stepladder and stool. Photo: Chiew Pang

If you can't do the entire room in one go, do one wall at a time.  Leave the paper to dry overnight.  You should find that any remaining bubbles vanish when the paste dries.  If there are some annoying ones that won't go away, carefully cut a cross in the paper with a knife, apply a small amount of paste to the underside, and then stick the paper back down.

When you're wallpapering, take care while working on ladders; don't lean or stretch to try to reach awkward places, and try to choose the right height of ladder for the job (don't use a stepladder or stool if you need to reach the ceiling!).  In addition, try to keep the room well ventilated.  You shouldn't come to any harm if you're stuck wallpapering a small, poorly ventilated room, but let's face it, wallpaper paste isn't the nicest smelling substance, and fresh air will make the job go by faster.

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