How to hang wallpaper

You love the design, but what do you do next?

James - G&B decorator

Written by James Hughes,
In-house Decorator at Graham & Brown

All Graham & Brown wallpapers are easy to install, whether you hire a decorator, or choose to do the task yourself.

This is because they are printed on what is often referred to as, paste the wall wallpaper. This is the easiest way of hanging wallpaper right now – and all our papers have this technology, including our murals – which you can see how to install here.

What's the secret?

It’s quick, clean and easy!

Our wallpaper has a special backing paper, which means it doesn’t expand when wet. This means unlike traditional wallpaper you don’t need to soak it and the paste can go straight on the wall so there’s no need for a pasting table, cutting decorating time in half. Wallpaper hangs dry from the roll so it’s easier to cut (unlike cutting wet paper!).

PLUS, it comes off easily so easy to remove when you fancy a change.

Tools you will need:

For preparing your walls:

  • Wall Filler
  • Sandpaper

For installing the wallpaper:

  • Sharp craft knife and or,
  • Wallpaper scissors (to cut the paper)
  • Graham and Brown wallpaper paste
  • Bucket - to mix the paste in
  • Plumb line or spirit level
  • Tape measure
  • Paint brush or Roller and Roller tray - for applying the paste
  • Wallpaper brush or smoother - for ensuring paper is stuck down
  • Seam roller - to ensure seams are level
  • Clean damp cloth - to clean off any paste on wallpaper surface or smooth seams

Instructions: Its probably easier to watch the video first!

Step 1: Prepare your wall:

Step1 - Filling holes on the wall
  1. Fill and sand any cracks or imperfections on your wall.
  2. Clean the wall with detergent or sugar soap.
  3. On fresh plaster, “size” the wall – this means make up a diluted solution of paste and liberally apply to the walls being decorated and let it dry.
  4. This will be absorbed into the porous plaster and will stop the paste being absorbed when it is applied.

Step 2: Measure and plan where to start:

Step3 - Making a pencil mark as a starting point
Top Tip

The reason for this is that a roll of wallpaper is 52/53cm wide. It means that the last “drop” you hang will go into the corner – which means if the wall is wonky or out – you can trim it in the corner, and it won’t be obvious.

  1. Consider the light in the room. If you are wallpapering the whole room start with strong natural light and move away from there, if creating a feature wall this is less relevant.
  2. If you have a center focal
    point like a fireplace see instructions below.

  3. The first “drop” of wallpaper is key as all others will align to it, so it is important to ensure it is “plumb” otherwise your wallpaper could look wonky.
  4. From the left-hand corner of the wall you are about to decorate measure 50cm and make a pencil mark to give you your starting point.
  5. Using this mark, draw a plumb line using either a plumb-bob or spirit level. A plumb line is a vertical straight line, from which you will hang the first “drop” of wallpaper against and ensure it is hangs straight down.

From here it gets easier!

Step 3: Apply the wallpaper paste:

Step1 - Applying paste to the wall
  1. Apply the paste liberally to the wall, ideally with a roller (it’s quicker). You can paste over the plumb line and make sure you apply paste a couple of centimeters wider than the wallpaper you are about to hang. This means you can hang the second “drop” of wallpaper without worrying about applying paste over the first “drop”.
  2. Use a 2” paint brush to add paste at the top of the wall, around sockets, or just above the skirting. This will ensure even coverage in difficult areas and avoid the wallpaper “lifting” when dry.

Step 4: Apply the wallpaper to the wall:

Step2 - Applying wallpaper to the coving
Top Tip

This is so you can trim the top of the paper in line with where the ceiling and the wall or coving meet. If this is uneven you will get a neat finish.

Step4 - Cutting excess wallpaper at the bottom
Top Tip

You can cover your paste bucket with cling film to keep it fresh over-night.

Step7 - Matching the pieces of wallpaper together
  1. The wallpaper can be hung dry from the roll. Use ladders to get to the ceiling or coving, and allow a little extra product, e.g 2-3cm at the top.
  2. As you hang from the roll lightly brush into place as you go down to the skirting board. Here you can lightly push the paper to the wall. Leave the roll on the floor.
  3. Ensure that the paper is in the correct position and is vertically correct. Brush down the paper with the smoothing brush from the center to the edges of the roll.
  4. Cut the excess paper at the top and bottom with a knife or wallpaper scissors.
  5. Congratulations,
    You've just hung your first piece of wallpaper!

  6. Working to the right of this first “drop”, paste the wall again allowing a few centimeters wider than the width of the wallpaper. You should see you don’t need to get close to the first drop of paper when doing this.
  7. For the second drop – look to see where the paper matches (the point at which the design fits together along the edges of the wallpaper).
  8. Starting at the top match the paper as you hang it dry from the roll – lightly brushing the paper to the wall as you go. The paper will slide into place on the paste.
  9. When you get to the bottom of the wall – check the pattern matches, and there are no gaps. If there are bubbles, or mismatches, just loosely pull the paper back and brush it back down. The paper is forgiving! If it matches your nearly there.
  10. Trim as before and you're done!

  11. Repeat until you’re done. Don’t worry about taking breaks or giving up for the night. You can pick up wherever you left off – just make sure to reapply the paste.
The Tricky Bits

Now you have mastered the basics of hanging a drop of wallpaper, here are some of the challenges that you may face, and how to overcome them.

How to wallpaper around sockets and switches

Step5 - Cutting out lines that form X
Step6 - Excess paper pushed behind socket
  1. Switch off the mains power in your home before starting.
  2. Unscrew the socket and pull away from the wall a centimeter.
  3. Paste the wall as previously (which is why you need to turn the electrics off – water + electricity not good!) and smooth the wallpaper into place.
  4. When the wallpaper meets the socket try to hang the paper over it. The socket will protrude under the paper. Mark the four corners of the socket on the paper and score an “X” diagonally joining the corners and taking care not to damage the faceplate of the socket.
  5. Using your knife or scissors cut along the two lines that form the “X” and peel back from the center point to reveal the socket underneath.
  6. You should now have 4 upstanding triangles on each edge. These can be cut down and any excess paper can be pushed behind the socket fitting to ensure a seamless finish. The socket can then be screwed back down.

How to wallpaper an internal corner

Step2 - Match the left edge of wallpaper
Step4 - The paper will overlap
  1. Paste the wall as before into the corner and a little way around.
  2. Match the left edge as previously and brush the wallpaper into the corner and around it. There is a good chance the corner will not be perfectly vertical. You will only need to go around the corner with the paper by approximately 2-3 cm, or until the wall is vertical again.
  3. Remember, we hung our first piece 50cm out from the corner. Do the same here – or match up to that line – overlap the paper.
  4. Overlapping

  5. This means in the corner the paper will overlap. This is ok – and could be left to dry, but for a professional finish you should take an extremely sharp/fresh blade and using a steel straight edge cut the papers where they overlap.
  6. Remove the excess off the top paper, then peel the top paper back and remove the excess of the bottom paper.
  7. Now push the top paper down – it should match and meet perfectly with the bottom paper and join like two seams of wallpaper. This is the reason to do it in a corner so any potential mis-matches do not show.
  8. It is hard to determine how frequent this will be as it is individual to every corner in every room, in every house.

How to wallpaper an external corner

Step1 - Wrap paper around the corner
  1. As you hang the piece to the wall wrap it around the corner. Again, the wall may not be “true” and so some overlapping maybe required.
  2. Follow the overlapping instructions and ensure that the overlap is not in sight, but rather around the corner.

How to wallpaper a wall with a fireplace

Step4 - Center of the fireplace
Top Tip

Not all patterns run central through a roll so you may have to judge the center of the design and work that distance out from the center point of the fireplace.

  1. A fireplace is a focal point so it is essential that you get the wallpaper design centralized or you may get some strange optical effects of the pattern or fireplace being offset.
  2. Rather than starting from a corner – find the center point of the fireplace and mark it – and from here draw your plumb line through it – (See above).
  3. You now have a choice.
    To centralize the paper, or to centralize the seam

  4. To centralize with the seam in the middle of the fireplace hang to the right of the plumb line to the corner of the room as normal, then work from the plumb to the left to the corner.
  5. To centralize the design which we would recommend, measure a new plumb line half the width of the wallpaper to the left of the center line (normally 26 to 26.5cm). Hang the wallpaper to the left of this plumb line as previous. The center of the wallpaper will now be at the center of the fireplace.

Relax and enjoy

Browse our wallpaper collection

Frequently Asked Questions: