Hanging the wallpaper

Happy wallpapering day! You should now have all of your materials together, and the walls are prepped and dried.

Let’s do this!

Temperature check

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. Not ideal! You want the paste to dry as slowly as possible to ensure the paper does not expand or contract.

Get the room ready

Clear the room as much as possible - you’ll need lots of room for activities (wallpapering being the activity). And set up all of your equipment for easy access.

Measure the walls

Where to start

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.

Draw a straight line

There are very few walls, if any, that are truly square or absolutely vertical. Annoying, right? So, if you were to hang your wallpaper starting in a corner you’re basically guaranteed to have the design on the paper run askew. Picture it as though your wallpaper appears to be running up or down hill. Got it? Not a great look.

To overcome this you’ll 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 2m one is best). Place it 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.

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. You can pick a plumb line up from any hardware store.

Keep drawing straight lines

Now you’ve got the straight line thing down pat, keep doing that as you start on each new wall.

Measure out the wallpaper

First length

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.

Every other length

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.

The first drop of wallpaper

We’re as ready as we’ll ever be (which is very prepared and ready, just quietly).

Apply the paste

Pour your paste out into the tray, using your roller or brush apply the paste to the walls generously. Use a brush to get the paste into corners and edges.  You should only apply the paste one drop wide plus 10-20cm.

We get you’re excited (we’re all excited), but don’t apply paste to the whole wall - it will dry and become unusable. As you go, if the paste dries too quickly, simply re-paste the wall before hanging the next drop.

Continue to paste as you go, applying the paste just wider than the drop you’re hanging. Any excess paste on the ceiling or skirting can be gently removed with a clean wet sponge before it dries.

Now the wallpaper

Being careful not to crease the wallpaper, loosely roll your first drop so the top and back of the wallpaper are on the outside. Make sure the pattern is the correct way up, 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 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 at the bottom.

Smooth onto the wall

Using the wallpaper brush or smoothing tool, 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.

Clean up any excess paste

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.

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.

Inspect the wallpaper

After hanging one roll, inspect the wallpaper to ensure there aren’t any faults. It’s your decision as to continue hanging the wallpaper. The supplier’s responsibility is limited to cost of replacement paper. You should keep inspecting the wallpaper every 2 to 3 lengths.

Subsequent drops

Once the first drop is in place, you’re ready to paste the next section of the wall.

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.

Wash off any excess paste after hanging each drop with a clean wet cloth. And, if you need to, you can then use a seam roller for the seams.


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.

See here for instructions to hang around plug sockets, light switches and windows.

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. 

Keep 1 full drop for restoration in case of any future damage.