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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

  • Claire Douglas

How to hang paste the wall wallpaper: a no-nonsense guide

Updated: Apr 6

A straightforward guide to installing paste-the-wall wallpaper

paste the wall wallpaper being installed

Paste-the-wall wallpaper is my favourite type of wallpaper design because it saves all that faffing about with floppy sheets of sticky wallpaper that rip easily when you try to adjust them on the wall because they are soggy with adhesive. In my experience, you can achieve much better quality results the first time using paste-the-wall wallpaper because there's less mess, and the paper is so much easier to handle. 

Wallpaper and wall murals are back in vogue big time in 2024 and are an excellent way to give a space a fresh look, even on a budget. I have a post dedicated to wall murals for bedrooms if you're looking for inspiration.The space I'm transforming in today's blog post is a small powder room, so I knew that I could go big and bold with the wallpaper because small spaces lend themselves to quirky wall designs that can actually make the restricted space feel bigger because there's so much for your eye to take in as it travels around the whole space.  

Below is my step-by-step guide for hanging paste-the-wall wallpaper, including the best tips on how to wallpaper around plug sockets and light switches and how to calculate how many rolls you'll need.   

How to calculate how many rolls of wallpaper you'll need.

  1. Measure the total distance you'll be covering in wallpaper e.g. from the top of the skirting board to the ceiling or coving/picture rail if you're going full height or to the dado/chair rail if you're doing half-height; this gives you the length of each drop. 

  2. Measure the width of each wall Calculate how many lengths (drops) you'll need to cover it, by dividing by the width of the wallpaper. Round the number up if the value isn't a whole number. (eg a wall width of 2 metres will need 4 drops of wallpaper of width 52cm... (200/0.52=3.846= 4 drops) 

  3. Once you know the total number of drops required and their size you need to consider if there is a repeating pattern. The roll should say on the side if there is a pattern repeat and the length which is the value you'll need to add to the length of each drop except the first. 

  4. The repeating pattern value is the distance between two repeated points on the roll that could be lined up to match on the wall. 

  5. If there is no repeating pattern, be sure to allow a few centimetres extra at each end so you can cut the edges once the strip is attached to the wall to get a perfect line. 

  6. Once you know the number of rolls you need, you can source them. Check that you always buy rolls with the same batch number to ensure that the colour and pattern will exactly match between rolls. 

How to hang paste the wall wallpaper

It pays to have everything you need close to hand when working on a wallpapering project, especially if you are undertaking this DIY project solo. 

You will need 

  • Paste-the-wall wallpaper 

  • Wallpaper paste or adhesive

  • Plumb line and spirit level

  • Utility knife with a sharp blade

  • Paint roller and paintbrush

  • Step ladder (optional depending on the height of the wall)

  • Wallpaper brush

  • Metal ruler

  • Pencil

  • Clean cloth

1. Prepare Your Work Area

You won't need a bulky pasting table because you obviously aren't going to apply the paste to the back of the wallpaper, but you will need a large clear area to prepare the wallpaper, to allow you to unroll the wallpaper and cut the required sheets then lay them out in position. Ensure the surface is clean, smooth, and dry. 

It's a good idea to start from the most inconspicuous place in the room to get a hang of the process before tackling more visible areas.

2. Measure and Cut

Cut sheets of paste the wall wallpaper

Measure the width of your wallpaper roll and use a pencil to mark a vertical straight line on the wall, indicating where the first strip of wallpaper will go. 

It's a good idea to start near a corner, but I don't recommend placing your first drop in the corner as it'll be tempting to line it up against the line of the adjacent wall, which might not be straight, and this will put all of the following drops off, too. I find it easier to start one drop in from the corner. 

You can hold the roll against the wall and cut each strip off as it's needed by eye rather than by measuring it out on the floor, but I find it easier to make the cuts in advance when you are working alone as there isn't wallpaper paste all over the wall starting to dry and you're less likely to accidentally get paste on the front of the roll as you hold it up to the top of the wall. This is especially true if you are papering the whole wall so have long drops to contend with. 

Top tip: When you cut each drop, write on the back which wall and position it's intended for to save getting them muddled when you come to hang them.  

So, you've made your cuts and have marked the backs of all the sheets. Now it's time to apply the paste to the wall. 

3. Apply the Wallpaper Paste

With paste-the-wall wallpaper, you apply the adhesive directly to the wall. 

You can use a paint roller to evenly distribute the wallpaper paste or you can use a paste brush as you would for paste the paper wall paper.

Only apply the paste to the area covered by the next strip and a small overlap into each of the adjacent areas (this is to ensure that you don't miss anywhere down the edge causing the paper not to adhere to the wall in those spots) if you cover the whole wall, the paste will have dried before you get to the final drops. 

Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for the best results.

4. Hang the Wallpaper

hanging paste the wall wallpaper
Laser level for hanging paste the wall wallpaper

Before you hang any paste the wall wallpaper on the wall, you'll need to mark a plumb on the wall to line up the first sheet against. You can create a plumb line using a laser level if you have one or you can use a plumb bob. Top tip: You can create a plumb bob by hanging a weight from the ceiling on a piece of string  (You can use blue tack or a drawing pin to hang the line) as gravity will pull the weight down straight. Some people like to mark the string with chalk, as you can then ping this against the wall, marking the line, but I have a feeling I'd just end up covering myself and my beautiful new wallpaper in chalk if I tried that! 

paste the wall wallpaper being installed

Align the edge of the first piece of wallpaper with the vertical line you marked. Smooth out the wallpaper panels from top to bottom, using a wallpaper brush to remove air bubbles and ensure a flat surface. 

Hanging paste the wall wallpaper

5. Trim and Repeat

Once the first strip is in place, use a sharp blade to trim any excess paper at the top and bottom. 

Repeat the process, aligning each strip with the pattern repeat and ensuring a seamless finish.

Check the back of each sheet of wall paper to ensure the position label matches the drop you are about to hang before attaching to the wall. 

6. Finishing touches

decorative wood moulding for wallpaper edges

I added a decorative wood moulding that I had painted to the top and bottom of the wallpaper as a nice way to finish it off.

7. Clean Up

Wipe away any excess paste or adhesive with a clean, damp cloth. Ensure the edges are well-adhered and smooth for a polished look.

paste the wall wallpaper being installed

Top Tips for hanging paste-the-wall wallpaper

  • Use the wallpaper calculator method I shared above to determine how much wallpaper you'll need for the whole room.

  • Check the batch number of your wallpaper rolls to ensure consistency in colour and pattern.

  • Start from the top of the wall and work your way down for the best results.

  • When trimming excess paper, always use a straight edge for a clean cut. 

How to wallpaper around light switches and plug sockets.

The advantage of "paste the wall" wallpaper is that it can be less time-consuming and more user-friendly, especially for those who may be new to wallpapering. It also tends to be easier to reposition or remove since the wallpaper doesn't become overly saturated with adhesive.

As always, with any wallpapering project, it's important to carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions for the specific wallpaper you are using, as techniques and recommendations can vary.

How to wallpaper around a switch or socket

  1. Position the wallpaper & apply gentle pressure, stopping before the switch or socket

pink wall and matching light switch with dimmer

2. Pinch or press the switch to mark the corners or mark with a pencil

hands marking the corners of a light switch on a piece of overlaid wallpaper

3. Make a central hole with scissors (I made a large hole to as the dimmer switch was stopping the paper from sitting properly)

scissors making a hole in the centre of a piece of wallpaper to cut out a light switch

4. Cut from the centre to each corner (go a mm or two beyond the pinch points to allow for the depth of the switch)

A pair of scissors cutting through wallpaper

5. Now your wallpaper should look like this... (below)

wallpapering around sockets

6. Score the socket edge onto the paper flap

7. Cut the flaps along the score lines

wallpapering around sockets

8. Professionals now turn off the electrics & unscrew the switch or socket in order to tuck the edge of the paper underneath for a superior finish, but I don’t advise doing this unless you have experience with electrics for obvious reasons. You can get a neat line by cutting neatly along the edge of the socket.

A pink light switch surrounded by a wall of striped wallpaper

As you can see from the step-by-step guide below, it is actually very straightforward DIY once you know how... The same method works for plug sockets too and most other wall-mounted obstacles (ie heating thermostats, alarm panels).

I've demonstrated the method for how to wallpaper around switches and sockets where you don't remove or unscrew the faceplate because I don't want to recommend that DIYers start messing about with electrics. I know people will tell me that this isn't the 'proper' way, so I'll note the alternative at the end.

Where next?

Below are some related blog posts that you might enjoy

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