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Irish Independent - How to wallpaper like a professional

Q. As an alternative to painting, we are looking to use wallpaper to create a feature wall in dining room area. My memories of previous wallpapering escapades are not good - do you have an advice on how to do it properly?

A. Wallpapering large areas can be a daunting task but there are a number of tips for you to follow to get it just right. As with most projects, preparation is key and will remove most of the headaches down the track.

Fortunately wallpaper can be applied directly to painted surfaces, however you should prepare them well before you start the papering process. You will want your walls to be as smooth as possible, so fill any holes with filler, sanding them back until smooth and then remove any bumps or blemishes from the wall with a blade if you can. For walls finished with a gloss paint, you will need to sand them slightly to improve adhesion for the wallpaper. I should also give a special mention of electrical sockets at this point from a safety perspective – you will not only need to remove the socket covers from the wall but also tape them well to prevent contact from water. Your final preparation step should be to wash the walls down with a suitable detergent to remove any dirt or grime from them and leave it to dry off.

It makes sense that the first roll of wall paper be hung on an inconspicuous wall to allow for rookie errors.  Once you have picked your spot (a clear segment of wall without obstructions) hang a plumb bob from the ceiling to the floor along the wall to ‘Fix’ a straight vertical line against which you will hang the paper. The cut your wallpaper into strips slightly longer than the height of the wall to allow for inaccuracies (you can always cut back later).

Now cut additional strips from the roll and lay them out on the floor or table side-by-side. Where paste is required, make up your wallpaper paste for the entire area before you get started as it makes the application process easier.

For the hanging process, different manufacturers recommend different processes, so follow the suggest method for your wall paper. One big error is not hanging the paper straight – so make sure that all paper is aligned with your plumb line. We always recommend sticking wallpaper from the centre and smoothing it out with a brush or sponge, making sure to get a tight fit along the edges. When you have hung your first strip, repeat the process making sure that the patterns match for each roll. Once dry you should seal the seams of each strip to the other using a steam roller if you can source one – this will make the seams less prominent.

With wallpapering the real ‘fun’ starts when you are looking to paper around corners and obstacles such as doors, windows etc. While this is not a requirement in your project, I will happily outline the process to address these complexities in another column if requested by readers. For more information on this please contact us on or email

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