How to wallpaper

Choosing the Right wallpaper

There are thousands of colours, textures and designs to choose from in the wallcovering world. For ideas, browse our catalogue or come into your local Guthrie Bowron and talk to one of our experts.

Click here to access this handy guide - 'The Essential Guide to Wallpapering', from Aspiring Walls.


Types of Wallpaper

 There are three main groups of wallpaper, according to how they are applied:

Pre-pasted paper

Pre-pasted papers require soaking in a trough to activate the paste prior to hanging. 

Un-pasted paper

Paste must be applied to the paper. This can be done with a brush or a pasting machine.

Paste the Wall

Paste is put on to the wall rather than the paper. This is the easiest to hang and easy to remove, simply peels off in one piece. Guthrie Bowron has the exclusive So Ezy range of paste the wall papers.

What Do I Need to Wallpaper?

 What tools you need will depend on the type of paper you’ve chosen – check with your local Guthrie Bowron and read the guidelines on the roll label.

Basic equipment includes:

  • paint roller or brushes
  • scissors and a knife with a sharp blade
  • sponges
  • water trough (for pre-pasted wallpapers)
  • tape measure
  • plumb-line, plumb bob or a spirit level
  • The correct adhesive (paste) and size
  • ladder
  • bucket
  • drop cloth


  • Read the label on the wallpaper and follow any specific instructions.
  • Preparing the wall is the most important part of hanging wallpaper.
  • The wall surface must be clean, dry and sound, then given a good coat of size (a sort of wallpaper undercoat) so that the wallpaper is easy to position and sticks properly.
  • Remove any old paper. This must be done for the best results – if not, the new wallpaper may not stick down properly, and the old pattern or texture might show through.
  • Repair any imperfections in the wall or plaster, and sand it smooth with 80 grit sandpaper. Remove the dust with a soft brush.
  • Note: you might need to use an oil-based pigmented sealer if you have chosen a light-coloured paste-the-wall paper to stop the plasterboard colour possibly showing through – discuss this with your retailer.
  • Brush the wall surface with a liberal coat of size and let it dry. This makes it much easier to position the wallpaper when it is time to start hanging. 

How to Hang Wallpaper

How to Start

  • It is best to work away from the main source of light, aiming to finish in a discreet area, such as behind a door.
  • With patterned wallpaper, start in the middle 
of the wall that has the most noticeable feature – such as a fireplace – and again, plan to finish in an inconspicuous area to avoid a mismatch if you have to cut the paper to fit.
  • Make a plumb line: a straight line from ceiling to floor will ensure that even if your ceilings or floors are not level, the wallpaper will still be straight.
  • Always hang your first strip of paper next to a plumb line.
  • First, measure the width of your paper.
  • Then, measure the same distance out from the corner in the direction you intend working.
  • Now, come back 15mm towards the corner from the narrowest point of the plumb line, and make a mark closer to the ceiling.

Cutting the Paper

  • First, check that each roll is the same design and batch number, and whether you have to allow for a pattern match before you start.
  • Measure one wall from the skirting or bottom edge up to the ceiling. Add 10cm to allow for trimming. Note: if you have bought paste-the-wall paper, skip to that section!
  • Now cut the first length. Use this length as your guide for cutting the rest of the paper into lengths. allow for a pattern match if needed.

For Pre-pasted Paper:

  • A brief soaking in water is essential, to activate the paste that is on the back of the paper.
  • Fill the water trough with lukewarm water, and place it in the centre of the room, on a plastic drop-cloth or sheet.
  • Now, loosely re-roll the cut lengths of paper, from the bottom edge, with the pattern or texture on the inside.
  • Place the first pre-rolled length in the water, make sure it is fully covered.
  • Leave for about 15 seconds, then pass the top edge of the length under the water trough wire and slowly draw the paper out of the trough.
  • Check that all the paste on the back of the paper is fully wet.
  • Lay the wet paper out flat on the plastic sheet, paste side up, then fold loosely – don’t crease – from the bottom edge up to one-third of the length; then fold the top down to overlap the first fold by 10mm. The larger fold should be at the top of that length.
  • Repeat this process for several lengths of cut paper.
  • Drain and leave the folded lengths for about 8-10 minutes. This allows the paper – and you – to relax before the next step – putting the paper on the wall.

For Un-pasted Paper:

This is when a pasting table comes in very handy – you can hire one, or borrow one; or make do with the kitchen table – but cover it first. You will also need wallpaper paste and a pasting brush.

  • Mix the recommended paste according to the instructions on the label, to ensure you have the right consistency.
  • Place the cut lengths face down on the table. Make sure they are all laid out in the same direction – all tops together, and all bottom edges together.
  • Now, paste the back of the paper with paste/adhesive, applying it evenly in a herringbone pattern, pasting from the centre out to the edges. Make sure the edges are well-coated, and the paste is evenly applied over the full length of the paper.
  • Fold the ends towards the centre, with a smaller fold to the bottom and a larger fold at the top. This will help you easily identify the hanging direction of the paper. Make sure the folds don’t crease.
  • Leave each length to rest for between eight to 10 minutes. That’s more relaxation time for you, too.

Paste the Wall wallpapers ('So Ezy'):

If you’ve never done any wallpapering before, you couldn’t find a better paper to learn on than this.

  • Paste-the-wall products have 
a specially developed backing which does not expand, allowing it to be hung dry, without having to soak it in water, straight from the roll. You just ‘paint’ the adhesive/paste (metylan special or metylan direct control) onto your properly prepared wall, not on to the paper.
  • Don’t paste the entire wall before starting to hang your wallpaper. Simply paste one section of the wall at a time so that the paste doesn’t dry out. Allow some overlap – paste a bit more of the wall than just the width of each cut piece.
  • Slide the paper into place and check the match. No need to rush. Smooth it across using a brush.
  • Then trim off to fit at the ceiling/top and skirting/bottom edge.
  • If in the future you decide it’s time for a new look, ‘paste the wall’ wallpapers usually peel off easily – simply lift a corner at the base of the wall and peel upwards.

Hanging the first strip

  • Step up the ladder to the ceiling with your pasted wallpaper and unfold the top portion. Position the paper to correspond with the pencil marks you made on the wall. Press it against the wall, leaving 5cm for trimming along the ceiling line. Line the paper against your plumb line.
  • Moving down, stroke the paper against the wall, using a brush or smoother to position it. Unfold the bottom of the strip and press it against the wall, again checking it against the plumb line. When you
 are satisfied with its position, smooth it over fully, removing any air bubbles. Don’t rush.
  • Use your sharp knife to cut any extra paper at the ceiling and floor. Remove any extra paste by carefully sponging it off with clean water.
  • With the next lengths, slide the paper into position so the pattern (if any) is matched and the joins are butted together. Once you have placed the second strip on the wall, your smoothing brush will help align the seams. Follow this process for the rest of the lengths.

Dealing with Corners

  • Don’t try to hang a full width of wallpaper around a corner, as they are rarely true. always hang the paper in two parts.
  • Measure from the edge of the last strip into the corner, and add another 15mm before you cut the strip of wallpaper to size. This extra 15mm will wrap around the corner onto the next wall.
  • Start the next strip of paper in the corner, overlapping the 15mm of paper from the last drop.
  • Use an extra adhesive like Shur-Stik Stick Down just on the overlaps.


Switches and power points

  • Make sure the electricity is turned off, at the mains. Paper straight over the top of the fitting. Then carefully – so 
you don’t cut into the plastic cover – make two diagonal cuts – from corner to corner – across the fitting.
  • This forms four flaps, which you can crease against the side of the fitting and then trim off snug against its edges, with your sharp knife.
  • Then you can put the power back on...

Common Problems

If you prepare your surface properly and follow the instructions on the wallpaper roll, your wallpaper project should be trouble-free. If you do experience problems, or want to know what to avoid, download ‘Common Wallpapering Problems’ pdf.

Common wallpapering problems PDF