Wallpaper Prep Like a Professional

Hanging wallpaper yourself might seem like an overwhelming idea, but with some careful preparation and a few wallpapering tips, you’ll be a papering DIY pro in no time.

Planning your wallpapering project

Once you’ve actually selected your new wallpaper, it’s time to check how much wallpaper to buy. Get a tape measure, and measure out the width of each wall, and the height of each wall.

Working out how much wallpaper you need, the manual way

Calculate the number of drops needed

Divide the width measurement of the wall by the width of the wallpaper. This tells you how many ‘drops’ each wall needs. A drop is one vertical piece of wallpaper, from top to bottom.

Calculate the length of each drop

The length of the drop is basically the height of the wall surface that you want to paper. Measure this, and, if using patterned paper, add the pattern repeat to it.

A pattern repeat is how much extra wallpaper is needed to get the pattern to match up on each new drop, and is always provided with the wallpaper (either on the packaging or in the online listing).

Then add another 10 cm per drop (for trimming), and this will tell you the length of each drop.

Calculate how many rolls of wallpaper are needed

Check the length of each wallpaper roll (either on the packet, or on the online listing). Divide that length by the length of each drop. This tells you how many complete drops you’ll get out of each roll of wallpaper.

Divide the number of drops that are needed, by the number of drops you’ll get from each roll. Round the answer up the nearest whole number.

Use an online wallpaper calculator

If all that makes your head spin, there are plenty of online calculators! One like Style Library’s factors in pattern repeats, too.

Buying wallpaper

Once you know how many rolls of wallpaper are needed, it’s best to buy them all at the same time. Check that each roll in the project has the same batch number, to avoid any slight variations of colour or pattern. It will really stand out over the entire wall!

Essential wallpapering tools

There are a few things that are absolutely invaluable when it comes to wallpapering. A decent paste table to work on, a pasting brush, a sponge, and a spreader will all help get your wallpaper on to the wall with a lot less fuss. A plumb line (or string with a weight at the bottom!) to hang from the ceiling will help you line up each piece of wallpaper and make sure that it’s straight.

Preparing a wall for wallpaper

For best results, paper on to a smooth, clean surface. This means stripping down any other paper or paint already on the wall. Fill in any holes or cracks, and sanding everything down, then clean off the dust with a damp sponge.

Some types of plaster, especially newly applied plaster, absorbs wallpaper paste really quickly, which can cause the paper to start peeling away from the wall – probably not the look that you’re after! Avoid this by applying something called a size, which is basically a mix of PVA glue and water. The PVA acts as a membrane to stop the wall absorbing the moisture from the paste too quickly (but fast enough that it will still stick).

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