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13 wallpapering and DIY tips

When you move into your new home, you’ll want to give it a personal touch and ensure it’s a reflection of you and your tastes. One of the best ways to do just that is through your décor choices.

If you’re planning on decorating your home yourself, here are 13 essential wallpapering and DIY tips to get you started.

1. Decide what’s going where

Your choice of wallpaper will depend on the specific room.

For example, in areas with moisture in the air such as the kitchen or bathroom, vinyl wallpaper is a good choice, while non-woven fabrics and papers will suit hallways, bedrooms and lounges. 

2. Start with smooth walls

The surface you’re wallpapering onto should be clean and smooth.

Lightly sand them down and scrub with a wet sponge and detergent.

Allow them to dry fully before starting. 

3. Get your equipment set up

Once you get into it you’ll need all your tools to hand so it’s wise to have everything in place before you start. This should include:

  • Chosen wallpaper
  • Wallpaper paste
  • Lining paper if you’re using it
  • A tape measure
  • Dry and clean paint roller
  • A dry brush 
  • Spirit level or plumb line
  • A knife
  • A pencil
  • Some scissors
  • A putty knife
  • Something to stand on, such as a ladder or stool – always make sure this is safe and gives you enough room to reach the highest parts of the wall 
  • Pasting table (if you’ve bought paste to paper wallpaper)
  • Seam roller 

4. Invest in plastic sheets

Go for plastic sheets rather than newspaper to cover the floor and any furniture in the room.

They are relatively cheap and won’t leave any marks on the furniture or the wallpaper itself. 

5. Clear the room as much as possible

You’ll need room to lay out the paper on the table or floor as well as getting on your ladders and moving around – especially if there’s more than one of you working. 

6. Go room by room

Even if there’s two of you working together, finish one room before you start on the next.

It will ensure you get that feeling of satisfaction of completing a room and the motivation to move onto the next.

Doing bits and pieces of different rooms can drain your appetite for the job and make it feel like a never-ending task. 

7. Plot your seams before you start

Always have an idea of where the seams are going to go on the wall to avoid any chance of a mismatched pattern. You’ll want to avoid ending up with awkward thin strips at either end of a wall, which might mean you have to start the wall from the centre with a thinner strip of paper.

When turning corners, try to plan for the fold to sit at the middle of a strip for the smoothest possible finish.

Ideally, you’ll want to use a seam roller to help close any gaps and smooth our air bubbles or excess paste. If you’re using a statement wallpaper, make sure that your patterns match between each piece of wallpaper. When going over these seams with a seam roller, avoid applying too much pressure that might stretch the paper and distort the pattern.

8. Use the tools you have

It’s likely that the wall isn’t going to be straight with perfect right angles. In this situation you’ll want to use a plumb line.

These consist of a piece of string with a weight at the bottom, often with a pointed tip.

When you hang the line down the wall, the weight pulls the string tight and – once still - creates a perfectly vertical straight line for you to mark up. This will allow you to line your paper at the correct angle. 

9. Go big on your first piece

Once you’ve got your lines, don’t cut your first piece of wallpaper to the exact height.

Giving yourself some extra room at either end will help you get the placing of the pattern right.

Continue rounding up your measurements when cutting the other pieces, to make sure you have a bit of wiggle room to line everything up. 

10. Book if pasting the paper

Booking is a process where you gently fold in both ends of the paper on the paste side, without creasing the folds, leaving it for about 10 minutes. 

11. Use pins to keep things secure

Wallpaper will always expand and will do so during booking. If you miss this step it will expand once on the wall.

Note that you’ll only need to do this if your choice of paper requires you to paste the paper itself, rather than the wall. 

Securing strips or borders with pins will help keep things in place. 

Just remember to place the pin in a light shade of the paper and run the roller over the small hole once you’ve removed it.

12. Be careful around sockets and fittings

Always turning the power off is the first step. To ensure you get a good finish in these areas, follow this process:

  • Paper over the fitting using your main sheet of wallpaper
  • Brush over it with a dry brush
  • Mark the centre of the fitting with a pencil
  • Draw a line to each of the corners from the centre
  • Pierce a hole in the middle and cut along the lines you’ve drawn
  • You should now be left with four flaps of paper over the fitting
  • Unscrew the fitting and fold the flaps behind it before screwing it back in for a great finish

13. Keep things clean

If any paste seeps through the top layer of the paper, make sure you dab it with a wet sponge (warm water), pulling from the centre of the paper towards the outer edge.

If any paste accidentally ends up on a painted wall you weren’t planning to paper, it should be wiped away gently with a wet sponge as soon as possible, so as not to leave any marks.

 By following these essential tips, you’ll have your home looking just the way you want it. 

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