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Wallpaper is having a huge renaissance with more and more people opting to include it within their design schemes! It can quickly transform a room when adding a simple feature wall design, add some depth or definition to a wall when opting for a textured plain design or deliver an all out maximalist design when splashed across your walls. We can picture the scene now, you’ve selected your wallpaper design, you’re overjoyed to get it on the walls and then panic sets in about tackling the actual application of the wallpaper! Don’t fear, as always DCO is here with some easy to follow steps in addition to top tips for you to get your wallpaper up on your walls and looking amazing!
In this guide we’ll cover:
Preparation, like with any project, is the key step to a great finish and this is the same when wallpapering. So here are a few questions to ask yourself before you start!
Ok so we know of people wallpapering over wallpaper and it can be done BUT it's so much better if you strip the existing and apply to your bare wall. If you don’t then your original wallpaper could bubble up when wet faced with some fresh paste and if it had any type of emboss or embellishment this could show as an uneven surface on your new wallpaper. If it's a particularly tough wallpaper to remove we love the Zinsser Dif Stripper, the long handled wall scraper and a good decorators sponge to wet the area. For more tips on how to remove your wallpaper, check out our ‘how to remove wallpaper without a steam stripper’ blog here.
This is actually quite important even though so many people will say they always just paste the paper regardless or paste the wall regardless. The wallpapers are printed on different ‘substrates’ which makes them either paste the wall or paper and both have different characteristics. Check the label and look for the image below to see which type of wallpaper it is or use my quick check trick - flip the wallpaper over and look at the back. If it appears white on the back then it's a paste the wall, if it's more yellow then it’s a paste the wallpaper!
We have a wallpaper calculator on each of the product pages for your wallpaper. Pop in the dimensions of your wall and it will calculate how many rolls of that particular wallpaper you will need. Still unsure? Drop us a call or message and we’ll help check your measurements!
This is a really important step before starting. Check your labels and determine if your wallpaper rolls are all from the same batch. Your batch number usually is a letter or a numeric code, I’ve added a screenshot below so you know what you’re looking out for. If you have rolls from a different batch they can appear slightly different in shade as they’re from a different set up in the manufacturing process. In the cellophane they make look incredibly close so you wouldn’t know but side by side on your wall it's usually really obvious. If you’ve only been able to get your hands on mixed batches then don’t worry, all is not lost. Use your matching batches on the same wall. You will get a shading in your room naturally from your light source, shadows etc so the slight difference between batches is likely not to be as noticeable when on a different wall.
If you’re doing a feature wall wallpaper, especially one with a large pattern, then it's usually important to start in the centre of the wall but this is why it's important to plan this before starting. A panelled wallpaper for example will likely look best when centrered so the panels run off equally at each side however if you’re wallpapering this type of wallpaper on a single wall to the left of you when you walk into the room and not directly in front of you it actually would make more sense to start fully where your eye will be drawn at the left corner. (I hope I’m making sense here!). If you’re wallpapering a full room then it's usually best to start in an inconspicuous corner however remember not to follow the wall as a straight edge, it’s likely going to be wonky so it's usually best to start just shy of one strip in so you can straighten the design running into the corner. Finally consider windows when determining how you’re going to hang your wallpaper or where to start, you don’t want thin strips of wallpaper down the edge of the window as when it comes to then wallpapering the inset it's going to be harder to work with.
Your light switches and plug sockets will all need to be loosened to enable you to wallpaper behind them!
Ok so if you’ve made it this far well done! We know that seemed a little OTT but honestly it's so important to get this prep work right and it will make the actual application of the wallpaper so much simpler! Please don’t overthink the above questions, it really is simple once you start and think through those questions (especially where to start!) So let's buckle in and get some wallpaper on the walls!
Start by cleaning down your wall with a sugar soap solution and allow it to dry. If it's a newly plastered wall then ensure you’ve applied a mist coat before starting to help with the absorbency of the wall. It's also common practise to ‘size’ the wall before starting which is effectively a thin coat of paste applied to the wall to help with grip.
Measure out your first couple of strips. (this isn’t as necessary with paste the wall as you can apply directly from the roll but we still find it easier to have these strips measured out to avoid any stress when it comes to application!) We don’t like to get too far ahead in case we make any mistakes but it's good to have at least three going at a time. We number the back of each strip we’ve measured so we know the order we’re applying them and we also add an upwards arrow in pencil on the back so it's easy to see which way you’re hanging it! Get your first strips ready by holding up your first, centring the pattern (for example you may want to ensure a big patterned wallpaper has some of the key detail at eye height.). Once you have that first strip roughly cut to the height of the wall allowing some overhang at the top and the bottom for accurate cutting on the wall we then find it easier to lay out the sheet on a clean and dust free floor. Then we take our open roll and roll out the next piece matching up the pattern and again cutting it roughly to the height of the wall.
If you’re working with a paste the wall wallpaper then this is nice and simple. Apply your paste to the wall in a wider piece than the roll of wallpaper to ensure there is going to be enough paste at each of the joins. If you have a paste the wallpaper type of paper then you need to paste your sheet and then fold it up into what's known as a ‘book fold’ and allow it to soak for the allotted time on the reverse of the wallpaper label. It's usually around the 5 to 10 minutes mark depending on the thickness of the wallpaper. If you’re feeling confident you can have a couple of pieces pasted at a time but if it oversoaks it does become easier to tear so bare this in mind.
TOP TIP: We love to use a roller for applying paste over a traditional pasting brush, it can be so much quicker! Try the 9” microfibre medium pile.
Hang your wallpaper. It really is that simple. If you want to make sure you’re hanging your wallpaper strip level then a plumb bob is a great tool. It will help provide a guide for hanging your first strip and you will then be able to use this as your guide going forward. Once your strip is up on the wall use a smoothing tool like the wall wiz or a wallpapering brush to smooth the wallpaper and remove any bubbles. The wall wiz will also help in creating a crease at the top and the bottom of your wall. Once you’ve applied the piece straight and created your crease it's time to make a cut.
Honestly here it's about using good tools. We love a snap knife blade and snapping to a fresh blade every 1-2 strips of wallpaper. Use your straight edge like the wallpaper wiz as a guide to follow and run your knife along the crease. Our favourite is the Olfa knife as it’s a really durable and well built casing and their blades are amazing! Keep repeating this process until you’ve hung your wallpaper. Once you get to the edges of your wall (if doing a single wall) we find it easier to roughly cut the width down before hanging the wallpaper so you’re not dealing with too much excess when you make your cut down the edge of the wall.
Top Tip: if you’re not confident using a snap knife you can use wallpaper scissors to cut along your creased line.
Top Tip: a damp cloth will be your best friend! You will not manage to keep paste from the front of your wallpaper no matter how hard you try. Keep a damp cloth to hand so you can continually wipe over the front of your wallpaper and clean your tools.
Tricky areas! You have to be incredibly lucky to have a really easy wall to do that is rectangular with no doors, windows, sockets, light switches so you’re probably not going to be finishing at step 4. Here are some tips and tricks for those troublesome areas.
As part of your prep work you will have loosened the socket from the wall a little. As you place your wallpaper onto the wall lay it overtop of the socket and you will see it protruding from the wallpaper. Make a light crease at the four corners of the switch and then using your knife score a cross between the four points. You should be able to peel these back showing the socket underneath. Cut down the size of the protruding triangles and then slip the socket through the hole. You should then be able to tighten the socket back to the wall with some wallpaper being underneath it showing a really neat finish.
If you’re in a newbuild house then your radiators are likely going to lift and hook up from the wall. You can then apply your wallpaper as per the instructions above and you should be able to lay your wallpaper onto the wall bracket to make your crease (similar to the socket approach above) to provide a guide for cutting your paper to allow the bracket to come through. As this will be behind the radiator you don’t need to worry about this being too neat! If you aren’t able to hook your radiator off the wall you will just hang the wallpaper as low behind the radiator as your hand can reach. Make yourself a crease and cut before slotting it behind the radiator for a neater finish. For each side of the radiator you will hopefully be able to slot your wallpaper piece behind the radiator and smooth into place only having to navigate a cut to allow the pipes. As this is at the bottom of your wall usually we like to make a slit up the wallpaper to allow for the pipes, cut a slightly larger hold at the top of your cut for the pipe and then join the two seams together again beneath the pipe which become practically invisible.
So you’ll have two types of corners in your home (sorry if we’re teaching you to suck eggs here!) internal corners and external corners. You will only need these steps if you’re wallpapering past a single wall around the room or if you’re working with an area like a fireplace. Let’s tackle internal corners first as these are the trickier of the two…
As we mentioned earlier in this blog it’s important to understand where you’re hanging your first strip of wallpaper and directly from a corner is not a good place to start. Firstly your wall is unlikely to be straight and secondly if you need to then go round the corner because you’re wallpapering on both walls you do not want a join right in the corner. So you’ve hopefully started just short of a full strip (approx 50cm) from the corner with your wallpaper strip. This means the piece into the corner will then go onto your second wall by a couple of centimeters. Use your smoothing tool or wallpaper brush to smooth it through the corner onto the second wall. It’s really important at this point to get your plumb bob back out on your new wall to get yourself a straight line to work with (your corner won’t have been straight!). Start from 50cm out from the corner again and work into it. You will get an overlap but that’s absolutely fine! This technique is called splicing and you’ll take your sharp blade and your straight edge and work down the edge of the corner to cut away the excess. You will be able to remove the top piece of overlap then peel back your top piece of wallpaper to peel back the bottom piece of overlap.
It's really important not to have a join on an external corner. As it protrudes if your join was right on the corner it will constantly peel back and open up. You need to take your wallpaper around the corner, if it’s a particularly stiff wallpaper you can use a hairdryer to warm it up a little to smooth it round. Again as it may not be straight you may need to follow the step above for internal corners on overlapping to create a new ‘straight’ line.
A daunting task to undertake but absolutely don’t be put off! Take your time, make sure your knife is sharp and you will be just fine, the secret to it is an extra hidden piece of wallpaper. Here are some steps to follow:
As with the rest of your wallpaper hanging, paste and hang the piece over the top of your window reveal (we’re describing hanging a piece over the right hand side of your window) and smooth it down and cut it down to the size of the wall. Now you will have a hung strip overlapping your window…weird but we’ll get there!
With a pencil make yourself a small mark where the top corner of the window is beneath your wallpaper (don’t puncture the paper, it's just so you have a guide). Take your knife (making sure the blade is sharp!) and cut from that top corner of the window mark up in a diagonal line to the left of the window. With this cut you should then be able to smooth the wallpaper around the right side of your window reveal. As with normal wallpapering then cut the excess.
Match up your next piece along and hang it. Don’t worry about the triangular shape and top part of the window reveal that are left bare from the first piece, we’ll fix these next.
At this point you should have two strips hung side by side from the right side of the window. The right window reveal will be wallpapered and you will have a triangular cut off at the top of the right side of the window and some of the top reveal without wallpaper. Now is the time for the sneaky extra hidden piece of wallpaper. Measure out a piece of wallpaper that pattern matches your second hung piece covering the first piece. It only needs to go down about ⅓ of the window reveal so cut it and paste it (or paste the wall depending on your wallpaper). Mark your top right corner of the window with a pencil again and then taking scissors this time (you don’t want to use a knife in case you cut the piece beneath!) you will cut from the corner of the window diagonally down and to the right. You should then have a flap that will cover the gap you have in the top of your window reveal. Next up is the important part as you don’t want lots of overhanging wallpaper. You’re going to ‘splice’ (basically a cut over two pieces of wallpaper to seamlessly join them) at the top of the window and remove the excess. Taking a straight edge and making sure your knife is sharp, from the top right corner of the window up to the ceiling follow your straight edge and make a cut. This will cut through both pieces of wallpaper beneath. On the left hand side of your cut you need to remove the piece of wallpaper that was underneath. On the right hand side you remove the piece of wallpaper on the top. Give it all a good wipe over with your jcloth to remove any paste before it has time to dry. Last step is to smooth down your overhanging piece into the top part of the window reveal and cut down to size (we find it easier to use scissors for this piece rather than a knife as it's quite a tricky angle). Window reveal complete! (Well on the right hand side, just repeat now on the left!)
So there you have it! Hopefully by now you have a beautifully wallpapered wall or room and you wonder what you were ever worrying about! The world of wallpapering can really help to transform a room so don’t be afraid, dive in and as always if you have any worries, concerns, additional questions you can reach us via email, live chat, whatsapp, DM or a phone call, we always love to chat!