DIY: Six ‘Dos and Don’ts’ of Wallpaper for Getting a ‘Professional Finish’


Wallpaper is often an inexpensive option for transforming a living room or bedroom and it’s often quite easy to hang yourself. However, this can be a tricky task for many, especially if it has never been attempted before. DIY expert Matthew Clague of tool rental company Speedy has shared his top wallpapering tips and tricks to help DIYers get it right the first time.

1. Prepare the space before leaving

The expert told ‘It can be tempting to embark on a DIY task such as wallpapering without giving due care and attention to space and the various precautions of security.

“To ensure you get a professional finish when wallpapering – and that you don’t damage your possessions in the process – clear the room as much as possible. This includes moving furniture away from walls, removing additional small pieces of furniture, and covering larger items such as sofas with protective slipcovers.

“If you’re removing old wallpaper, be sure to turn off the electricity to the room and cover all electrical outlets to protect them from steam and hot water. Also open windows and doors to ensure good ventilation.

2. Be careful when preparing your surface

It is advisable to fill and sand any cracks or imperfections on the wall before hanging the wallpaper to “ensure a smooth finish”.

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3. Don’t rush the first drop of paper

According to the expert, it is extremely important to take your time with the first strip of wallpaper because all the others will line up with it.

If the first strip is off, the whole wall could end up looking wobbly. The expert said: ‘To avoid this, mark a plumb line using a tape measure and a spirit level. Measure 50cm from the left corner of the wall you want to decorate and mark with a pen or pencil.

“Then use the spirit level to draw a straight vertical line, from which you will hang the first strip of wallpaper and make sure it hangs straight.”

4. Take your time with all the fine points

The DIY pro explained, “Don’t skimp on wallpapering because you might regret it. This is especially true when tackling trickier areas, including power outlets, light switches, and radiators.

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“When wallpapering around sockets and switches, disconnect the mains supply, unscrew the socket or switch and move away from the wall. Mark the four corners of the socket or light the wallpaper and use a Stanley knife or scissors to cut the two diagonal lines in an “X” shape.

“Then cut the four triangles around each edge and push any excess paper behind the fitting before screwing it back on.”

Ideally, it is recommended to remove radiators from the wall before wallpapering. However, this is not always possible and if so, the expert recommended measuring the dimension from the ceiling or the edge of the window to the radiator fixings, adding two to three centimeters around the window frames.

The DIY expert notes: “Ideally, it’s best to remove radiators from the wall before wallpapering. However, if this is not possible, measure the dimension between the ceiling or the edge of the window and the radiator fixings, adding two to three centimeters for the cutouts around the window frames.

“If the wallpaper is patterned, add the extra length needed to align it with the adjacent strip. After that, use a ruler and a knife or scissors to cut to the correct length and hang it on the wall, before smooth around the radiator.

5. Don’t start without the right tools

Using the right tools will make any DIY job much easier and will also help achieve the best finish. When it comes to wallpapering, the expert recommended using a paint roller instead of a traditional wallpaper brush to apply the glue, as it can save a lot of time and effort.

The expert added: “The best and easiest way to remove wallpaper is to hire a wallpaper steamer as this will remove even the most stubborn paper. It can be tricky and take a lot of time and elbow grease to remove wallpaper with the traditional “scoring, soaking, steaming and scraping” method.

“If you have multiple layers or particularly stuck-on wallpaper, while you wait for the steamer to heat up, score the wallpaper in sections using a Stanley knife so that the steam can more easily penetrate the material. the paper at the top of the wall will also help prevent damage to your ceiling.

6. Work upwards when removing wallpaper

If you want to peel off wallpaper, it’s best to always start at the bottom of the wall, working your way up. This is because the steam rises, and by doing this the wallpaper will already be a little steamed when you get there.

According to the DIY pro, this will make it much easier to remove it from the wall.


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