Firstly, you need to ensure the walls are flat – it’s
almost impossible to paper a wall that is all lumps and bumps, so remove any
nails, hooks or screws with pliers. Fill in holes with a filler and finish off
with sandpaper, so it doesn’t cause a bump under your strip.
There are lots of demos on YouTube, usually professionals
with a pencil behind one ear, in white dungarees with the right brush and
smoothing thingy already to hand, so let’s start with the basics.
Equipment - Yes,
you will get messy, so wear old clothes, or invest in the dungarees! Get
the right tools - hardware stores usually have brushes and rollers, so choose a
good quality roller or a nice fat brush for slapping on the glue and a
wallpaper hanging brush for smoothing. Some primer, a big tub of
wallpaper paste, a plumb line, a tape measure or spirit level, and a table big
enough to lay out a good length of paper, don’t worry if the paper is too long,
we will come to that later. Protect the table with some sheets of plastic or
old newspapers, and tape them down. A stepladder and a single side blade or
knife with a retractable blade will be needed too, and some good long scissors.
Oh, and the pencil.
How many rolls to buy?
Here's an example to help you calculate:
2.4m (height of room) x 19.2m (room width ÷ by
wallpaper roll width) = 46.08
46.08 ÷ 10m (length of the wallpaper roll) = 4.6 total
Most wallpapers have a repeat pattern, so work out
where they start and finish, as you will probably waste a bit of paper matching
up the drop. ‘Random match’ is the easiest and will not create any waste when
measuring strips, as these wallpapers line up randomly at the seams.
Other wallpapers may result in some waste when you match the pattern from strip
Check all sheets are hung the same way, so you don’t
find one length upside down!
Paste can be bought ready made. Some papers are
‘paste-the-wall’ and ‘not paste-the-paper’, which some say is quicker and
Ready to go –
First-timers would be wise to start behind a door so if you mess up your first
sheet it’s hidden! Firstly, paint the whole wall with a wall primer/sizer
– this creates a smooth surface for the paper and seals the surface, so the
paste doesn’t soak into the wall.
Lay out your cut length and apply paste to it if it is
the non-pasted variety - to the ends and edges as well. If the paper is too
long for your table, you can loop it lightly forward, edge to edge, gluey side
to gluey side, and make sure it is aligned, it’s called booking it up. From the
left-hand corner of the wall you are about to decorate, measure 50 cm and make
a pencil mark to give you your starting point, and draw a line down using
either the plumb-bob or spirit level, giving you a straight line to hang
against. If you have the ‘paste to the wall’ variety, use a roller - it’s quicker.
Just paste enough for one length, and a little extra - this means you can hang
the second piece without worrying about applying paste over your first piece.
Hold your first piece to the top (easier if you have a
pal helping), cut with scissors. allowing for a few extra inches. Then unfold
gently, slide it to meet your pencil line and use the wallpaper hanging brush
to smooth out bubbles, centre to edges, top to bottom. Cut to fit at the top
and bottom using a sharp knife. Wipe excess paste with a moist rag or sponge.
Your first sheet hung, and you have a straight edge for the second sheet.
The first ‘drop’ is key, as all others will align to it, so it is important to
ensure it is ‘plumb’ otherwise your wallpaper could look wonky. Once the
edge is positioned, and vertically correct, smooth the paper down, then trim
off any excess.
Paper is forgiving! If it matches, you’re nearly
Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man.