How to apply and remove wallpaper

Wallpaper is back in a big way! Whether you’re renovating a whole room or creating a fantastic feature wall in your home, there are 1000s of designs out there to choose from. Once you’ve found your perfect pattern, the challenge is putting it up – however, with the right tools and our expert tips, you can be a wallpapering wizard in no time!

  • Alex - copywriter
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  •  6min read
How to apply and remove wallpaper

Work out how much wallpaper you need

Wallpaper is sold in rolls, so you’ll need to do a little bit of maths first to work out how many you need to buy – don’t worry, there’s no algebra involved!

  • Measure the width of all the walls you’ll be papering with a tape measure
  • Divide this number by the width of your chosen wallpaper to give you the number of drops (meaning the number of individual panels to cover the wall)
  • Measure the height of the wall from the top of the skirting board to the ceiling, adding on an extra 15cm as a safety buffer
  • Multiply this number by the number of drops to give you a grand total of how much wallpaper you need

Buy more than you think you need

You should always buy one extra roll of wallpaper in case something goes wrong, such as accidental damage or miscalculation. It happens to the best of us!

Buy from the same batch number

To avoid any small differences in pattern or colour, it’s a good idea to buy from the same batch if you can.

Wallpaper

Preparing the wall

Like most DIY projects, prior preparation prevents poorly papered walls! Putting in the prep work before you start wallpapering will avoid any problems with sticking or uneven surfaces. Here’s how:

  1. Cover the floor with dust sheets to protect your flooring from spills
  2. Remove power outlet & light switch covers, and cover the sockets with tape to protect from wallpaper glue
  3. Clean off any loose paint, plaster, or leftover wallpaper with a wire brush
  4. Make your wall as flat as possible by filling in any cracks and sanding when dry
  5. Use coarse grit sandpaper to rub down gloss paint before brushing off
  6. Wash your walls with sugar soap and a sponge

Top tip:

For a pro finish, paint the wall first in a colour which closely matches the main colour of the wallpaper. That way, if any of your seams are slightly less than perfect, it won’t be obvious!

Create a plumb line

When you’re hanging wallpaper, you want to make sure each drop is hanging straight & level. The problem is that the corners of your room are rarely perfectly straight (or sitting ‘plumb’, as they call it in the trade), so we overcome that obstacle by drawing a plumb line.

Starting from the left-hand side of your wall, use a long spirit level or laser level to determine which corner of your room is angled furthest away, top or bottom – it’s usually only out of plumb by a few millimetres. Measure the width of you wallpaper from this point. Make a small mark and use your spirit level to draw a perfectly straight & level line from floor to ceiling. This is the line you’ll use to guide your first sheet into place.

By measuring from the point which is further away, you’ll end up with an overlap in the corner which you can easily cut away to create a perfect line. You can measure & repeat the plumb line process across the length of the wall to guide you fully. This is a great pro tip which results in a neat & tidy end result!

Top tip for wallpapering multiple walls:

If you’re going to be applying wallpaper on multiple walls in a room, you should leave extra overlap on the corners without cutting. This way, you can lay the wallpaper on the second wall on top of the overlap for a seamless finish.

How to apply wallpaper

The time has come to paper that wall! For the most part, your wallpaper will either be paste the paper, or paste the wall.

Cut your wallpaper into lengths to fit your wall, not forgetting the extra 10-15cm to allow yourself extra on the top and bottom.

For patterned wallpaper, it’s worth laying out your drops and matching up your pattern before you start applying the wallpaper, just to be sure.

Paste the paper wallpaper

You'll need:

  • Wallpaper paste
  • A bucket or paint tray to keep it in
  • Pasting brush or roller
  • Pasting table (or you can use the floor if you lay down plastic to keep it clean)

Lay your wallpaper face-down on your pasting table or surface, and apply your wallpaper paste evenly with a brush or roller from one end to the middle. Fold the pasted section over onto itself, leaving a couple of centimetres of exposed paste in the middle.

Then, repeat the process on the other half and fold it back so the 2 edges meet. This process is called ‘booking’, which will help the wallpaper to soak up the paste and make it easier to stick evenly.

Leave the wallpaper paste to soak into the paper for around 3 minutes before hanging.

Paste the wall wallpaper

No need to worry about booking your wallpaper here – with paste the wall, you simply cut your wallpaper into strips as normal and apply paste to the wall itself. Use a roller to apply paste one section at a time, using a brush for corners and edges.

Hang your wallpaper

You'll need:

  • Paper hanging brush, or smoothing tool
  • A sharp knife, or wallpaper trimming wheel

Using your plumb line as a guide, begin applying your wallpaper from the top of the wall, leaving a few centimetres overlap at the top, and work your way down the wall using a papering brush or smoothing tool to help you. Use these to smooth your paper into the corners and edges, as well as remove any air bubbles as you go.

Trim the edges

Using a sharp knife or trimming wheel, carefully trim the top & bottom edge to sit flush with your ceiling and skirting boards, as well as any excess you have along the first corner. Use a long flat surface like your spirit level or smoothing tool to help you get nice, neat lines, and use your brush to make sure these are stuck down fully.

We recommend using the sharpest knife you can to avoid tearing the paper, such as a snap-off knife so you can use a new blade for every session.

Cut around switches & outlets

Carefully use your knife to cut around the areas in your wall for power outlets and light switches. Leave a little overlap that can be covered up when you reattach the covers for a pleasingly neat finish.

Repeat until you’re done!

Continue pasting and papering until your wall is complete, at which point you can stand back and marvel at your good work! Grab a cuppa and relax for a bit – you deserve it.

Top tip:

Use a seam roller for perfectly flat seams.

Remove wallpaper

How to remove wallpaper

Removing old wallpaper can be a little fiddly, but is much easier if you use the right kit!

You’ll need:

The purpose of a wallpaper stripper or steamer is to soften the paper itself as well as the paste which holds it in place. Once the paper is soft, you can use your scraper to carefully remove the wallpaper, keeping it flat to avoid accidentally taking chunks out of your wall.

Work from the top down, as gravity sometimes helps to remove more wallpaper at once. Once the majority is off, you can use a wire brush to remove any leftover bits.

Finally, give the wall a good wash with sugar soap and a sponge. Let it dry fully before redecorating. Another job well done!

Now you know how to apply your wallpaper, there’s no end to the possibilities in your home! Shop from our massive range of wallpaper to find your perfect style for every room, from bold prints for your living room feature wall to wipeable wallpaper for the kitchen.

Got any home renovations you’d like to share? We’d love to see your wallpaper wizardry! Get in touch with us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok & X.