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Putting up wallpaper

With today’s Easy up wallpaper it’s almost impossible to fail. Painter Johan Wictorsson gives tips on everything from groundwork to pattern fitting for Do It!

04/05/2012Print article

By Moa Suominen Photo Viktoria Davidsson

Putting up wallpaper is not very hard nowadays. Today there’s a wide selection of so called Easy up wallpaper, which does not require overlapping. You put it up by gluing it directly onto the wall. The pattern fitting then gets easier and there won’t be any wallpaper lengths that glue together. The foundation in succeeding with the wallpaper is an even wall which has been coated with the same colour as the main colour of the wallpaper. Otherwise there’s a risk that the colour of the wall shines through or shows in eventual gaps. The most important thing is to remember the coating when you’re putting up wallpaper with a white bottom.

If the wall already has wallpaper you might have to rip down the wallpaper and putty the wall in order to get it even. When working with wall covering you might also have to do some grout spreading. Always put a layer as thin as possible of putty and wait until it’s completely dry before you polish. Then decide whether you need another layer of putty. To see whether a plaster wall has been evenly puttied you can press the putty knife against the joints between two plaster boards and see whether it settles evenly over the wall. Always work in proper lighting, preferably day light, when putting up wallpaper.


1 Remove skirting-boards
Start by removing skirting-boards. The easiest way is to stick a jimmy underneath the strip and move it in several spots.

2 Cover the floor
Wipe away dust and cover the floor closest to the wall with cardboard and masking tape. Wallpaper paste can be cleaned off with water.

3 Polish
If the wall is coated it might be a good idea to lightly sand away ”roller pimples”. Use a telescope shaft to be able to reach the ceiling.

4 Measure
We recommend to start putting up wallpaper next to a window or a door, alternatively a corner. It’s especially important to start next to a window when you’re putting up wallpaper and overlapping the lengths, so that the light floods into the room in a way that makes the joints less visible. Ceilings and walls can be somewhat uneven, so in order to get the wallpaper totally straight it’s better to use a spirit level and measure a straight line and then start off from there. Let the wallpaper reach an inch or two around the corner and then cut off the rest with a wallpaper knife in order to get it straight.

5 Paste
If you’re using vinyl wallpapers you should buy ready-made wallpaper paste for the purpose. Put on paste evenly using a roller. Avoid getting paste on other walls and the ceiling by painting corners, ceilings and the surface closest to the floor with a brush. A newly plastered surface absorbs a lot of paste and might need a thicker layer than a coated surface. Don’t roll on too much paste, one or two wallpaper lengths per roll is to recommend.

6 Put up the wallpaper
Hold the roll and start at the ceiling and roll out the length along the wall. Smooth out the wallpaper and smooth out bubbles from the middle and towards the edges with the wallpaper brush. Stroke lightly at the edge against the glued wall in order to not get paste on the tool.

7 Cut off excess wallpaper
Cut off excess wallpaper with a wallpaper knife in the corners, along the ceiling and the floor before the paste has dried. Always use sharpe razor blades in the wallpaper knife, otherwise there’s a big risk that the wallpaper may rip.

8 Fit the pattern
The next wallpaper length should be put edge to edge with the one before. Start from the ceiling and find a place in the pattern that continues from the first length. Then cut off the extra piece of wallpaper from the ceiling and the floor before the paste has dried and press the wallpaper against the wall with the wallpaper brush. Next to windows and doors you can cut the lengths roughly before you put them up and then fine-tune it with the wallpaper knife.

9 Dry off afterwards
Use a damp sponge on the joints between the lengths in order to remove excess paste. Don’t rub too hard, then there’s a risk that the colour of the wallpaper could be removed.

10 Cut holes for sockets
Make cuts for sockets and ventilation with the wallpaper knife, take care when doing this and avoid any contact with the inside of the socket.

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