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How to Guide: Hanging Traditional Paper Backed Wallpaper

We wanted to give a little advice to help guide you when using paste the wall wallpapers. With good preparation any non-woven wallcovering will give you a great finish, so whether you’re a decorating beginner or perfectionist pro read on for top tips.

Getting Started

It doesn't matter if you are a seasoned professional or if this is your first attempt at hanging, wallpaper is a great product to use when transforming a space. Firstly let us answer some very commonly asked questions about this tactile product and then we will explain the wallpaper hanging technique itself with some top decorating tips and tricks.

What is the difference between paste the wall wallpapers and paste the product wallpapers?

With the introduction of wallpapers into the market that allow you to paste the wall instead of the wallpaper itself can cause confusion for new hangers.

A traditional wallpaper (to which we mean a surface print or pattern with a natural pulp based paper backing) must have adhesive applied to the reverse and allowed some time to absorb the moisture / swell, this is commonly referred to as a “soaking time”.

A paste the wall wallpaper has introduced a new type of backing layer that is not porous so does not react with moisture from adhesive. It is the stable synthetic base that allows this product type to be hung in its dry state without soaking.

How will I know which hanging technique to use? 

The easiest way the check if your wallpaper is paste the wallpaper or paste the wall is to check the label that is wrapped around the roll. Industry standard symbols are used for a variety of specifications including the application of adhesive, see below.

 
Paste The Wall Paste The Wallcovering

To look at the reverse of a paste the wall wallpaper and a regular wallpaper side-by-side you will see that the non-woven (paste the wall)  backing is much lighter in colour, and that synthetic fibres have a resemblance of a poly cotton as opposed to the paper backing of a paste the product wallpaper that has a natural appearance.

Which is best? Paste the wall or paste the wallpaper?

We would give two answers to this question incase this is read out of context.

In regards to a (non woven) paste the wall wallcovering, the speed that you can decorate offers a big plus...with stripping being just as easy! These offer good results for first time decorators as they are a little more forgiving when handling. We believe the main drawback to a non-woven wallcovering is the extra preparation associated with the surface. Due to a lower opacity of most paste the wall substrates it may be possible to see wall colour, filled areas or cutting in painting through the wallpaper so painting the wall to a solid colour before hanging will be required.

If you are feeling adventurous then ditch the paste table then follow the HOW TO GUIDE: HOW TO HANG PTW here.

With a traditional (natural pulp backed) wallcovering you will need the space to put up the decorating table, apply the adhesive to the reverse of the wallpaper and allow the product to absorb the applied moisture for a specified time. This small delay will not drastically extend the time needed to complete the hanging but must be followed. The difficulty of hanging is increased when handling a saturated length of wallpaper as it is most vulnerable to damage in this state, but with patience and thought you will get a good sense of achievement on completion.

So...

It really comes down to preference and often the pattern itself as this will normally dictate what technique you will need to follow! 

What paste is best to use for paste the reverse wallpapers?

This is dictated on an individual product basis, on most occasions an off the shelf flake paste would be adequate such as our Bartoline or Solvite with a concentration/dilution advised on a per product type basis such as Blown Vinyl, Vinyl or Normal Wallpapers.

Where specified by a manufacturer, product type or location of hanging a low moisture ready mixed adhesive should be used as additional grab, concentration or adhesion solids are required. This would often be on Heavyweight Italian Vinyls, Metallic Foils or for hanging wallpaper in a humid space like a bathroom or kitchen.

So, how to hang traditional wallpaper...the technique:

Always read and follow the manufacturer's specific hanging instructions and checks shown on the reverse of the roll label, below is a typical hanging technique.

Step 1. Before hanging

You need to make some essential checks to your wallcovering.

Check all batches or shades match on each roll of a single design. Open your rolls and check thoroughly for any visible signs of damage, print errors/shading or production marks. Keep all roll labels safe until your decorating is complete, if any problem is found or you have a concern STOP IMMEDIATELY and contact us.

We buy all stock in good faith from our manufacturers however from time to time errors can have taken place during production.

Ensure your wall surface is clean, sound and dry, should the surface be particularly porous then an application of wall size will be required. Cover floor surfaces and furniture prior to preparation with dust sheets , fill any surface imperfections with filler, allow this to try and then sand until smooth.

 

Step 2. The wallpaper prep

Check the direction of hanging before you continue, not all patterns will come off the roll as they should be hung!

Check the pattern repeat information on the front of the label and check the roll symbols to ensure you understand any additional directions.

A: Measuring and Cutting

Use a Tape Measure to measure the wall height from ceiling/coving to skirting.

Roll out your new wallpaper face up on the paste table so you can see the pattern, place your tape measure over this and check for the best part of the pattern to start with at the ceiling. Once you have decided where to start from, measure down this roll to where your wall height dictates allowing at least 100mm for trimming (50mm at top and 50mm at bottom).

Ideally avoid cutting through a main element of the design such as a flower head, motif or damask.

Now you have your first length prepared you can use this as the template to cut enough lengths to complete your first wall...or more.

With the information about pattern repeats on the front of the label and our handy guide explaining these you should know if to: match directly across the strip just cut, to move the roll along half or a full repeat.

Working left to right on the table, match the pattern appropriately and slide this on top of your first length. You can now cut this to the same size (making sure you have left enough excess for trimming in the first instance). Repeat this process until you have cut enough lengths to complete your first wall.

If your wallpaper is plain and advised as free match, simply cut your lengths to the same size (but do cut each length off the roll the same way and mark the “top” on the back of each length to ensure they are all hung the same way up (or not if specified)).

B. Where to start

For a full room transformation if is best practice to start working on the longest, flattest wall working away from a window (natural light source), also to mirror the way our lengths have been cut you should work from left to right away from the light.

C. Marking the wall

Use the tape to measure approximately 45-50cm away from the corner you are starting to decorate from and mark this point with a pencil. Use a plumb bob by holding the string to this mark and allow the weight to hang down and stop moving, continue to mark the wall with your pencil at regular intervals to give you the perfect starting point.

Join the marks up with the ruler or a batten for a more definite starting point.

We use the above technique because walls are not always level and true, should you use your corner as the natural starting point you may find your wallpaper looks wonky.

Step 3. The pasting

Positioning

With all your lengths prepared on the paste table, you need to flip them over to reveal the natural paper backing layer (maintaining the order they were cut in). As we now progress our aim is to not get any wallpaper adhesive onto the wallpaper pattern (face), with some good positioning of the dry lengths we can minimise this.

A - Start B - Slide top length back to edge of table

Pasting

Describing this method can be difficult so to help the technique sink in see our illustrated 8 steps to perfect pasting after these instructions.

Paste the first length by spreading some paste into the centre and working the brush in a herringbone pattern to spread the paste to the edges. A good technique is to hold the paper against the table edge furthest from you and paste up to this edge first. Then slide the paper towards you and paste the nearest edge. Try to always work cleanly and don't allow paste to get on the front of the wallpaper.

Folding

Fold the pasted sides inwards so that no paste touches the face of the wallpaper. Once pasted & folded place this length to one side ensuring the soak time is adhered to, allowing the wallpaper to absorb some of the paste and become more pliable before you hang it.

8 Step Guide: Perfect Pasting!

 

Step 4. The hanging

The First Length...

Hang:

It is now time to hang the first length of wallpaper, carefully choose what is the top end of your wallpaper pattern and open up the fold you made during pasting.

With the pasted side towards to the wall,  lightly press the top of the first length against the wall ensuring you are balancing the top of your pattern at the ceiling (as planned) and keeping the 50mm overlap at the top for trimming purposes.

Slide the right edge of the length to the vertical line or markers you made with the plumb bob earlier and gently press the wallpaper against the wall so it stays in place.

Smooth:

Use a wallpaper hanging brush to get rid of any air pockets under the surface, this will maximise contact with the wall. Ideally work the air pockets out from underneath the wallpaper from the center of the length at the top, working them gently outwards as you move down towards the skirting board, keeping the right side of the length on the line or markers from the plumb bob.

This process only needs enough force to move the air pockets, too much force will start to stretch the wallcovering

Trim:

With a shield, spirit level or steel ruler form a crease along the top and bottom of the wallpaper. Using a sharp knife in combination with your tool from above, slice along the ceiling line and/or skirting board carefully. Keep this controlled and watch out for the wallpaper snagging or dragging rather than cutting.

Should you struggle with using a knife, form the crease and peel back the wallpaper length away from the wall. Using some long decorators scissors, carefully trim along the crease you have made.

Remove the excess wallpaper and fold this back onto itself, then discard.

Clean: 

With a clean damp cloth, remove any adhesive that may have found its way onto the surface of the wallpaper during hanging.

Remember to wipe or sponge clean the skirting board and ceiling or picture rail for any wallpaper adhesive.

The Second Length…

Paste, soak and hang the next length in the same way as above, you have already matched the pattern at the cutting stage so the second length should easily butt up to the first length where the plumbob marks are just visible (just make sure the pattern flows correctly from left to right before you trim this length).

Make sure to smooth away any air pockets and that the butted edges are firmly glued down by running a seam roller along the joint, apply only gentle pressure so you do not push the adhesive away from the new join.

The Third Length...

So here we repeat the pasting, soaking and hanging process.

Once this length is hung it it time to step back and admire your handywork! As well as feeling proud of your newly learnt skill you need to inspect the wallpaper, checking now for any inconsistencies that may now be visible.

Everything should be absolutely fine for you to continue this process and complete your new wall, if this is not the case you should now STOP and contact us. Keep all roll labels until the wallpapering is complete.

 

Kelly

Wallpaper Expert
Home Flair Decor

Expert advice from the Home Flair Decor Wallpaper specialists

Wallpaper is my passion and quite possibly it's in my blood! Having grown up in the industry I've been buying and selling this fantastic product for the last twenty years. I want to encourage those who share my “passion” and persuade others to add pattern and texture to their walls. Wallpaper has become a trend item once again, introducing a new generation to the possibilities of this product. It's time to #DressYourWalls and customise your home to reflect your personality, let me help you turn your house into a home.