Interior designers prefer the term “wall covering” to “wall paper,” but either way, this isn’t the stuff you had to peel off the walls as soon as you moved into that old house. Wall coverings today feature bold designs, colours and textures that create a focal point for a room and are rarely used on all four walls.
Wall coverings add another layer of texture and design to a room that makes it look more custom, polished, and pulled together. Wallpaper is an easy way to create a feature wall or transform a whole room by picking out the colour tones in the wallpaper to match accessories like the cushions, throws and floor rug.
One thing that’s definitely popular right now is floral wall paper in large scale patterns, not the small traditional print but something that creates a focal point in a room.
We’re very excited to be able to offer a range of gorgeous Australian designed wallpaper to our homewares collections, many of these have been hand painted and printed in Australia.
If you’ve never hung wallpaper before, we’ll take you through the steps and equipment you’ll need to cut the wallpaper to size, apply the paste and hang it.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials and Tools
- Paste. We suggest a good quality starch-based, ready-mixed paste. The amount needed is approximately 3 litres of mixed paste per 25 metre roll. (This equates to 12.5m2 or 5 x 2.4 metre drops of wallpaper)
- Roller and tray – to hold the paste
- Paint or paste brush – for hard to reach places
- Spirit level or plumb line – to ensure the wallpaper is straight
- Soft cloth or sponge – for cleaning walls and skirting
- Smoothing brush or plastic smoother
- Pencil – not pen or marker
- Steel ruler – to make a straight clean cut across the top and bottom
- Stanley knife
- Tape measure
- Bucket of water
- Dust sheet or floor protection
Step 2. Prepare Your Walls
Preparing the walls properly will make sure the wallpaper sticks and doesn’t peel or pull away after hanging. And also helps prevent the wallpaper damaging the wall if it’s removed. If you hang wallpaper on walls that haven’t been properly prepared, the wallpaper may be bumpy, the edges might not line up, and the walls probably will suck all the moisture out of the wallpaper and paste. This will mean the paper shrinks and you’ll end up with gaps between hung lengths. Not great!
It’s essential that the walls are clean, even, dry and smooth. This means removing old wallpaper, flaking paint, dust, dirt, grease, oil and stains.
Any mouldy areas must be treated with a mould remediation solution prior to applying any stain-killing primer. For especially difficult stains you might need an oil-based primer. If this is the case, it’s best to then cover these treated areas with an acrylic primer (see removing oil above – it’s all coming full circle).
All cracks, holes and irregularities should be filled. And scrape powdery or flaky areas and smooth down rough surfaces with sandpaper. If you want to go the extra mile, you can also prime and line your walls.
Once all of your cleaning and repairs are complete, make sure to give it plenty of time to dry and seal properly.
Step 2. Check the Wallpaper
So your surface is ready and your wallpaper has arrived. Before you let your excitement take over (who could blame you), it’s important to check the following things:
- Correct number of rolls
- Correct style
- Wallpaper is undamaged
- Colour is consistent across all of the rolls
- Dye lot – indicated as a number marked at the very beginning of the roll. It’s important to note this in case you need to order more. Paper can absorb ink differently across dye lots, so it may appear visibly different even though the style and manufacturer is the same.
- Match points are the same, on the label included with your rolls
– Straight match: The wallpaper matches edge to edge with the next drop to form the pattern repeat.
– Random match: The wallpaper can be matched edge to edge at any point.
– Half Drop: The wallpaper is lowered on the second drop to create a diagonal effect pattern repeat.
Really really really Important Information! Checking these wallpaper details before cutting and hanging is your responsibility. We will not accept any returns or refunds, once you’ve cut or pasted the wallpaper.
Step 3. Measure for your first drop
Before you start, always read the instructions that come with the wallpaper. After this, measure the width of your wallpaper. Deduct approximately 5 centimetres from this figure, then use the tape measure to mark this distance out from the corner of the wall. From this mark, you need to create a true vertical line as a starting point for hanging. The best way to do this is with a spirit level (a 2 metre one is best).
Place the spirit level on the wall and mark lightly with a pencil every 150mm from the top of the wall to the bottom so it then forms a straight, vertical line. You need to allow the wallpaper to overlap onto the wall next to it, so you can cut it cleanly in the corner, after hanging it.
Alternatively you can use a plumb line. That’s where you get a piece of string with a weight on the bottom and attach it to the top of the wall with a pin or a nail so it then hangs down straight. Gravity, huh! Once the plumb line is fixed at the top of the wall, let it swing freely until it rests. You can then mark the wall with a pencil underneath the weight and at the top where the nail is.
Continue along and mark the wall behind the string, every 300-600mm, before joining them all up with a long straight edge. Now you’ve got the straight line thing down pat, keep doing that as you start on each new wall.
CUTTING THE WALLPAPER
Measure out the first length of wallpaper. You should add on 75-100mm to the height of your wall for trimming top and bottom once it’s fixed to the wall.
Each subsequent length will also need an extra trim waste at the top and bottom. Make sure you add the same amount to be trimmed each time so the pattern matches up and repeats from top to bottom.
MATCH THE PATTERNS
If your wallpaper has a big pattern or motif, cut your first length so that when the paper is fully fixed to the wall and trimmed there will be a complete motif at the top of the wall.
If you cut through a motif at the top it will make it much more obvious that the ceiling isn’t truly straight across. And, make sure that where the patterns might not quite line up will be somewhere not so visible – like into a corner or above a door.
Step 4. Hanging the Wallpaper
Cool days under 30 degrees Celsius are the best for wallpapering. If it’s a hot day, turn off the air conditioner (this can create a draft), and close the curtains or blinds so heat doesn’t come into the room. Heat and sunlight can cause the glue to dry too quickly and form bubbles or shrinkage. You want the paste to dry as slowly as possible to ensure the paper does not expand or contract.
MIX AND APPLY THE PASTE
Next read the instructions on the wallpaper paste packet. In a bucket, add the necessary amount of paste to the required amount of water.
Use the stirrer to mix this until the paste has a thick consistency then pour the paste into the paint roller tray.
Using your roller or brush, generously apply the paste to the first section of wall one drop wide plus 10-20cm. We get you’re excited, but don’t apply paste to the whole wall – it will dry and become unusable. If the paste dries too quickly, simply re-paste that section of the wall before hanging the next drop. You can use a paint brush to get the paste into corners and edges.
WHERE TO START
You’ll want to start hanging your wallpaper in the most inconspicuous corner of the room, like behind the door or a large piece of furniture. If you’re wallpapering the whole room the starting point will be where the pattern repeat may not match once the room is complete.
If the room is empty, measure out from the left-hand corner of the wall the width of the paper minus 1cm and mark it with a pencil.
Make sure the pattern is the correct way up. Being careful not to crease the wallpaper, get up on the ladder and then apply your first drop to the wall, letting the wallpaper overlap 5cm at the ceiling, and 1 or 2cm at the adjoining wall.
Hold the wallpaper at the top and move it into a straight position using your vertical plumb line as a guide.
While the paste is wet you can slide the top of wallpaper into the perfect position so it lines up on the plumb line. Unroll your drop along the plumb line, leaving about 5cm below the bottom of the wall.
Using a smoothing tool or your hands, work top to bottom and gently press the strip to the wall. Remove any air pockets by smoothing out from the middle towards the sides of the wallpaper. Avoid squeezing paste out of the edges where the next drop will join.
If the edges of the wallpaper do not stick to the wall properly, you need to apply more paste in those areas. Carefully apply paste under the edge with a small brush, being careful not to stretch the wallpaper.
Once the first drop is in place, you’re ready to paste the next section of the wall. Apply paste to the wall where your second sheet of wallpaper will hang, using the paint brush and roller. Apply the paste evenly and wider than the width of your wallpaper.
Stand on the ladder and hang your second drop of wallpaper the same way as the first, matching the pattern and using the edge of the first drop as your guide. Joins should be tightly butted and never overlap. Avoid squeezing paste out of the joints.
After hanging the first two sheets of wallpaper, continue applying paste to the wall and hanging the sheets of wallpaper until you have covered the entire wall. Make sure the wallpaper matches the pattern of the sheet next to it and follows its straight line.
POWERPOINTS AND LIGHT SWITCHES
If you covered a light switch or powerpoint with wallpaper, you need to cut the wallpaper so it can be installed. Before you start, turn the electricity in the house off. Feel where the hole for the powerpoint is, then use the utility knife to cut from corner to corner of the hole, leaving an X shaped cut in the wallpaper.
Corners are rarely, if ever, truly vertical. Always hang wallpaper into corners in two parts – never attempt to apply wallpaper across a corner in one go. Decorate first into the corner, then go onto the next wall and decorate back into the same corner.
The first piece of wallpaper that goes into the corner should overlap the adjacent wall by 1 or 2cm, the piece that decorates back into the same corner should be lined up into the corner. Yes, that’s correct, the wallpaper will overlap in the corner.
To do this, measure the distance in 2 or 3 places between the edge of the last drop and the corner. Then, add 5-10mm, which will go around the corner over to the adjacent wall, and cut the length of wallpaper to that width with scissors.
Paste this drop of wallpaper in the normal way. Fold the excess around the corner and brush tight.
On the next wall, measure the width of the piece cut off from the last drop and make a new vertical plumb line at that width for the corner. Using the plumb line as a vertical guide, paste and hang the cut-off piece back into the corner, slightly overlapping the piece turned around from the previous wall.
If your wallpaper is a vinyl, use an overlap or border adhesive for overlapping into the corner. On thick or heavily embossed papers you may need to overlap and then double cut, especially if it’s an external corner.
Step 5. Smooth and trim the wallpaper
Use a plastic wallpaper smoother to smooth out all of the bubbles and creases in the wallpaper. Work from the top of the wallpaper to the bottom. Make sure you smooth all of the wallpaper because it also helps it stick to the wall. Once the wallpaper is smooth, use a utility knife and straight edge of the smoother to trim the wallpaper in the corner and at the bottom of the wall.
TIDY THE EDGES
Brush the paper tight into the top of the skirting and wall join before gently running a pencil along it to create a line for cutting. Carefully pull the wallpaper away from the wall and cut along the line with a pair of long decorator’s shears or scissors.
Alternatively, brush the paper into the skirting and wall join, then hold the paper tight against the wall using a steel ruler. Trim the paper by firmly drawing a sharp trimming blade (keeping it a shallow angle) along the edge of the steel. If you’re going with this method of cutting, it’s mega important to cut the paper into the angle between the wall and skirting (or ceiling) with the help of something to hold the paper tight against the wall (like a steel ruler). This prevents the paper from snagging and tearing.
After tidying the edges, dilute any surplus paste that contaminates the face of the paper, skirting board and ceiling with a damp soft sponge. Do not rub with a dry cloth, as this will smear the adhesive into the paper.
CLEAN UP ANY EXCESS PASTE
Any excess paste on the ceiling or skirting can be gently removed with a clean wet sponge before it dries. Wash off any excess paste on the ceiling, skirting and wallpaper with a damp sponge and clean water. Do not allow any paste to dry on the surface of the wallpaper as it can cause damage. Use a felt roller and smooth over the paper.
LET IT DRY
So, you’ve finished applying your wallpaper. Always allow your wallpaper to dry naturally after hanging. Do not try to hurry the drying process by using a heater. Force drying the wallpaper will cause the joins to open during the drying process.
TIP: Keep one full drop of wallpaper for restoration in case of any future damage.