How to wallpaper

How to wallpaper

Wallpapering is one of the DIY tasks that seems much more complicated than it is, but with an organized approach and a bit of advice, you can do a great job of transforming your home with wallpaper.

What you will need

  • Check out our wallpaper calculator for how many rolls you will need for your project.
  • Wallpaper paste. Most papers will indicate what type of paste to use.
  • Wall size, sealant or primer product.
  • Wallpaper application brush or roller.
  • Wallpapering table or another long table.
  • Plumb line, spirit level or app.
  • Stanley knife or a sharp blade.
  • Tape measure.
  • Clean cloths, brush or roller for smoothing the paper.

Murtaghs stock specialist products for wallpaper, including; Olfa Wallpaper cutter, 3 in 1 corner and seam presser for wallpaper, a precision edge cutter and Paper Pal which trims and smooths.


Ensure that all your walls are clean, dry and free of any problem areas like dampness, cracks or holes in the plaster.

  1. Remove any nails, hooks or screws. Fill in any large holes (our team recommend Toupret filler) and sandpaper to smooth, so the mend doesn’t cause lumps in the wallpaper.
  2. If papering on plaster, plasterboard, or wood prime the wall with wall size, this will help the paper adhere better and easier to take off later.
  3. If papering over gloss or silk paint, sand down before priming.
  4. If papering over matt paint, clean the walls with a sugar soap product.

Getting started

  1. Have all your equipment ready and your table set up. Keeping products and equipment out of the reach of children.
  2. Ensure good ventilation during application and drying of paste and primer.
  3. Make up your paste, to manufacturers instructions, if not using pre-made wallpaper paste.
  4. Measure the length of your wall, then add 10-20cm to give you a margin for errors (yours and any potentially wonky walls!)
  5. Unroll your paper, measure and mark. Fold the paper over on itself, making sure the lines at the edges meet; this will ensure that the fold is straight.
  6. Cut your first strip!

Where to start and finish

There are a couple of points to take into consideration when planning where to start (and finish) papering –

  • When putting up your first strip, choose a less noticeable area without any tricky sections or angles (e.g. light switches, sockets or mantlepiece).
  • Minimize the visibility of seams by placing your first strip opposite the most used entrance to the room.
  • Take into account where the last join will be, as if you are hanging paper with a pattern, the pattern of the final seam may not line up, so you want it to be in a less conspicuous area.
  • Plan your starting point to avoid being left with small strips in a noticeable area.
  • Begin by centring the papers at a focal point and paper from here in opposite directions, making sure the last two strips meet in a less visible place in the room.

Make it straight

It’s tempting to use elements of your room as a plumb line, but door frames, ceilings or skirting are not always straight or at a right angle. To ensure that your paper is straight, use a spirit level, plumb tool or app to mark a straight vertical line, about 50cm from your starting place, on the wall to use as a guide.


Paste the wall where your first strip is going up in a thin, even layer. If using paste the paper wallpaper following the manufacturer’s instructions, applying to the wallpaper with a pasting brush, working out from the middle to the edges.

The first strip

  1. Double-check which way is up on your pattern!
  2. Place your roll of paper on the floor, roll it up next to your straight vertical line as far as the ceiling.
  3. Once you are happy that it is straight, smooth it down the wall using your clean cloth. Smooth from the centre of the paper outwards. Being careful so you don’t cause creases or wrinkles in the paper, squeeze out the paste or damage the wallpaper.
  4. If it is not going on perfectly, gently peel it off and apply again.
  5. When you get to the bottom of your wall, push the paper into the place where the skirting board meets the wall, creating a crease, this will help you cut away the excess.

Cutting excess paper

You can cut freehand along the crease you have created, or push a ruler into the join of wall and skirting board and cut along that, or pull the paper slightly away from the wall and cut along the line with a pair of scissors. Be careful; you don’t want to remove too much paper away!

The second strip

Continue these steps with your second and subsequent sheets. When moving on to another wall, repeat the process of using a spirit level, or plumb line, to line up the drop accurately.

Matching patterns

If your wallpaper is patterned, you will need to match the pattern for your second (and all subsequent) strips. When picking your wallpaper, remember larger patterns will likely mean more wastage.

  1. Unroll your paper against your first strip on the wall. Get the pattern to meet at the first possible place working from the top.
  2. Make a mark at the top of the paper so that you can cut away what won’t be needed after it is on the wall.
  3. So your second strip will be = the excess at the top + the length of the wall + your extra 10-20cm leeway at the bottom.
  4. When applying the second strip, focusing on matching up the pattern and meeting the edge of the first strip. But the sheets up against each other, gently sliding the paper up and down until the designs match.
  5. Don’t overlap with the first strip.
  6. Smooth gently downwards away from the matched edge with your clean cloth.


Laying over a corner: To deal with corners, continue as you have been papering; when you get to the corner, put up the strip matching the pattern, smooth the first horizontal half of the paper against the first wall. When laying over the corner, gently buff the wallpaper with your cloth into the corner. You are not looking to fold or crease the paper. When you are happy with this side, smooth the second horizontal half to the second wall.

Laying to a corner:

Overlap the first strip to a corner onto the adjacent wall by about 3 – 12 mm. Apply the next strip overlapping the corner about 3-6 mm. Remember to use a spirit level to get strips straight and pattern match.

Exterior corners: Wrap the wallpaper around the corner and gently smooth. Use a spirit level to create a vertical line on the new wall. Pattern match as best as you can.

Tricky spots

Light switches and sockets can be tricky to paper around. Start your strip as before, but when smoothing down the wall, feel where the switch or socket is and lightly mark the corners by pressing or with a pencil. At the centre of the obstacle, make a hole in the paper. Cut bit by bit outwards, making sure the strip remains straight. Cut to the shape of the socket or switch with a slight overlap. Loosen the screws on the unit (turn the electricity off first!), feed the overlap behind the unit and re-tighten the screws.

Fixing mistakes and dealing with issues

Cutting away too much excess

If you have cut the end of your paper too short, then rejoin the cutaway paper – meeting the seem you have created rather than overlapping, putting some paste on the join to stick it, then re-cut where you want it.

Air bubbles

If air bubbles appear as you are papering, peel the paper back off the wall and replying, smoothing from the centre of the strip to the edges again, hopefully smoothing out the bubbles. If some bubbles remain, they might disappear once the paper has dried.

Peeling edges

Carefully lift the peeling edge, apply some paste under and gently smooth down the edge with a clean cloth.

Hanging paper on stairs

Get someone to help you as you will be working at height.

Murtaghs wallpapers

Visit our store to explore our complete wallpaper range suitable for every room in your home. If you would like some help choosing a wallpaper for your project, our trained staff are here to help. Contact us to make an appointment for a wallpaper consultation with instore.

+ 353 41 984 3733