How To Wallpaper Your Home: Your Essential Guide

Before you begin

Wallpaper: Our In Depth Guide Pat McDonnell Paints

Preparation, preparation, preparation! It’s preferable that you work in an empty room, so if possible, move all the furniture, furnishings, etc. out of the room. Be sure to cover existing flooring with dust sheets to protect them. Strip off any old wallpaper and ensure the walls are smooth and dry. If you have used a steam-stripper, you might need to leave your walls for a few hours so that they are bone dry. Fill in any cracks and holes and sand the filler when dry so you are left with a smooth, bump-free surface. Freshly plastered walls will need to be primed so that the new wallpaper will bond perfectly to the walls. The best way to prime your walls is to brush watered down wallpaper paste all over the walls to be papered and leave them to dry thoroughly. We recommend that you complete all of your paint projects before you start wallpapering, such as painting the door frames, skirting boards or dado rails.

Lining paper

For the best quality finish, we recommend that you begin by lining your walls before you apply your wallpaper. By using a heavy grade lining paper (1000gsm), you will be able to cover any imperfections that your walls might have. It will give an overall smoother final finish to your walls too! Lining paper should always be hung horizontally around the room. We do this so that vertical seams do not show through on the wallpaper. When hanging lining paper horizontally, it’s important not to overlap the paper – leave a small space of no more than 2mm between joints. Leave it to dry completely before hanging wallpaper on top of lining paper. If there are any initial air bubbles in the lining paper, ensure they dry out and disappear. If any air bubbles persist: make a tiny cut in the lining paper. Gently brush in some wallpaper paste to the crevice and smooth it back down and allow to dry.

Cutting the Wallpaper: Measure Twice, Cut Once!

Do not assume all your walls are the exact same height. Older houses are particularly liable to have settled over the years which leads to height indifference’s throughout the house. To avoid any issues, ensure that you measure regularly. Allow 50mm top and 50mm bottom to each piece for trimming at the ceiling and skirting board /  floor. Measure your first length of wallpaper and mark it on the back with a pencil. Cut the paper with scissors or a sharp craft knife. Using a metal ruler allows for a perfect straight line. This piece of paper can be used as a guideline to measure against the remaining roll for your next piece of wallpaper. Also, if you have a pattern repeat, you’ll need to check whether it’s a straight match or if you need to allow enough extra length to match the pattern. Once you’ve cut your paper, number each piece and mark the top and bottom to avoid hanging any pieces upside down!

Pasting the wallpaper

Depending on the paper you’ve bought, you’ll be either pasting:

  • The back of the wallpaper: Traditional method
  • Soaking the wallpaper in water: Ready-pasted
  • Pasting directly onto the wall: New paste-the-wall papers

Assuming you’re pasting the paper, work down the length of the paper and from the centre to the edge. Don’t paste from the edge to the centre as this can get paste onto the front side of the wallpaper. Once you’ve thoroughly pasted the paper, gently fold the pasted edges together (don’t crease it!) and leave it for the recommended time as stated on the label. Some wallpapers need to soak for a short period, this is to allow them to stretch before applying to the wall.

Hanging the first piece

If your wallpaper has a bold pattern, you should see if there is a central focal point in your room such as a chimney breast. If so, hang your first piece exactly in the centre of this feature and then work out from either side. If you have a plain patterned wallpaper or no specific focal point, it’s best to start from one side of the window (usually the right hand side) and then work around the room into the furthest corner. Then work from the other side of the window into this corner. Before hanging your first piece, you must draw a vertical line on the wall using a plumb line. Hang your first piece against this line and you’ll have a nice straight edge to butt your next piece of paper against. Trim the top and bottom with wallpaper scissors and smooth down with a paper-hanging brush making sure there are no bubbles. Hang your next piece butting up to the edge of the first, don’t overlap or leave any gaps, run a seam roller over the join.

Wallpapering internal corners

Don’t try and hang a full width piece into a corner, it’s better to hang it in two pieces. From the last piece before the internal corner, measure from the paper into the corner and add approximately 25mm to this width. Cut the paper down the length to this width and paste into the corner. You should now have a 25mm overlap on the next wall to be papered. Mark a new plumb line on this wall and use the remainder of the last piece used to paper the new wall. Carry on with a new full width piece butting up against the join as before.

Wallpapering external corners

Similar to internal corners, but make the overlap onto the next wall a bit wider, 50mm should be sufficient. Match the pattern as best you can and then, to ensure a butt joint, slice through both pieces of paper (with a sharp knife), peel back the top paper and remove the piece from underneath. Smooth back the top paper into position and you now have a butt joint.

Sockets and switches

how to use wallpaper - in depth guide pat mcdonnell paints

Better to be safe than sorry, so switch off the electricity at the fuse box first. Smooth down the wallpaper over the switch or socket, find the centre and make a series of diagonal cuts towards the outer edges of the plate – don’t cut further than the edge of the switch plate. Fold back the triangles of wallpaper you’ve just cut and trim off most of the wallpaper. Loosen the screws in the switch plate so you can pull the plate away from the wall and tuck in the edges of the trimmed wallpaper. Tighten up the screws for a nice neat job.


If wallpapering the ceiling and the walls in a room, it’s advisable to do the ceiling first (so you don’t get any mess on your newly papered walls!). Work across the room, parallel to the window wall and paper from the window into the room. You’ll need to mark a guideline across the ceiling that’s parallel to the wall to give you an ‘edge’ to work to for the first piece. Work with the ‘folded’ pasted wallpaper across one arm and gradually ‘unwrap’ the folds as you smooth the paper onto the ceiling. Butt join your next piece and work across the ceiling. Light fittings can be treated in the same way as sockets and switches. If you prefer to dismantle the light fitting, ask a qualified electrician if you are unsure how to do so and ensure you switch off the electricity at the mains first!

Did we miss something? Or maybe you have a question about wallpaper! Let us know in the comment section below and we’ll get back to you asap!