Decorating doesn’t have to be hard! Whether you’re doing it yourself or getting someone in to do it for you, we can help you deal with any decorating dilemma.
Please take a little time to read through our hints & tips on wallpapering and painting. We have tried to make them as straight talking and uncomplicated as possible as things can get confusing enough.
We also have a handy wallpaper calculator to give you a guide as to how much wall paper you need for your planned project.
If you are doing the wallpapering, this is your guide to a professional
finish. By choosing the right tools for the job and following our easy
step by step guide you can achieve a brilliant look.
We always advise to get one extra roll to be on the safe side. The calculator (on this page) is designed to estimate the amount of wallpaper you will need for your project. Designs with long distances between pattern repeats may take additional rolls. We can not be responsible for overage or shortages based on your measurements.
Since wallpaper colour can vary from print run to print run, you should aways buy all the wallpaper you need at one time. Also make sure that all your rolls have the same batch reference number on otherwise they may not match.
Essential Tools for the Job
Below we have a checklist of tools which will make your job much easier. Don’t “make do” with a blunt pair of scissors or not using a Plumb line. To get the best professional finish you must use the correct tools!
Pasting table - Good flat surface for pasting your wallpaper. TopTip: after you have pasted each length of wallpaper it’s a good idea to wipe you table, this stops a build up of sticky paste.
Stepladder - Good sturdy steps for the places you cannot reach.
Bucket - A must for mixing your paste. TopTip: Tie some string between the so you can wipe excess paste from the pasting brush back into the bucket.
Pasting brush - A stocky brush with wide-space bristles that holds lots of paste is ideal. TopTip: If you don’t have one a large clean paintbrush could be used instead.
Paste - All-purpose pastes covers most jobs and can be mixed to different strengths, but it's always best to pick a paste recommended by the wallpaper manufacturer.
Straight edge/Metal ruler - Hold this against the skirting board or coving, then trim away the excess paper with a trimming knife.
Trimming knife - Craft Knives with retractable or snap-off blades are good for trimming the wallpaper. TopTip: Paper blunts the knife quickly so changing the blade or snapping off the end, as it has to be really sharp.
Plumb line and bob - You must make sure that your first length of wallpaper is straight, use a plumb line and bob to do this. Hold the plumb line high against the wall and mark a perfect vertical line using the string as your guide.
Tape measure and pencil – Don't use water-based pens they will bleed into your wallpaper when wet, sounds simple but you will not be the first person to use a felt-tip pen or fine liner when marking out your wall.
Scissors - Long blades are best for cutting a straight line. TopTip Wipe away any paste before it dries, always keep your equipment clean and dry.
Wallpaper scraper - This removes any bits of wallpaper, an essential tool in the preparation before you start to wallpaper.
Seam roller - Roll this along the edges of each length of paper after hanging to make sure they are stuck down firmly. Don’t use on embossed papers, as you'll flatten the design.
Paper-hanging brush - Choose a wide brush with soft bristles that won't damage the paper. Once it is hung, make diagonal strokes from the centre to the edges to ease out any air bubbles or creases.
Sponge – Pasting and wallpapering can be messy, it's important to wipe it off any surfaces especailly wallpaper, with a damp sponge before it dries.
Step 1: Preparation, preparation, preparation
Preparation is the Key to good decorating. Remove old wallcoverings and flaky paint, its also a good idea to wash the walls down with sugar soap to remove any greasy marks or dirt. All walls and ceilings must be smooth, clean and perfectly dry before you start papering.
Step 2: Establishing a Vertical and Starting Point
If your paper has a large pattern, it should be centred on a focal point, such as a fireplace, chimney breast, or a wall which is the focus of attention in the room. Otherwise, start from a window.
From your starting point, work in sequence around the room. Whichever way you go, plan to finish in the least important corner or at a doorway, since it will almost impossible to match the pattern on the last length. If your wallpaper has a large pattern ensure the first length features a complete motef near the top of the wall so that broken motefs are near the floor.
Once you have decided on a starting position you need to establish a vertical so that the lengths of paper are correctly aligned.
Measure out from the corner of the wall a distance that is 1cm less the full width of the paper, and mark the wall top, middle and bottom.
Hang a plumb line from the top of the wall aligning with the mark nearest the corner and mark it at intervals. Join up the marks using your straight edge. This penciled line is the vertical you will use for aligning the first length of paper. This same process must be repeated each time a corner is turned in the room.
Cut your first length of wallpaper so it overlaps the ceiling and skirting by at least 5cm at each end. If your wallpaper has a straight pattern repeat, the motifs will line up horizontally across the wall, and you need to cut each length starting at the same point in the design. If the design is offset, the motifs line up diagonally, so each length needs to be moved up or down to allow for this. Once you have hung your first length against your established vertical on the wall, you can slide the second length into postion for a perfect match.
Before cutting the second sheet, be sure that you have allowed for the pattern matching at the seam lines. To avoid waste, you can alternate between two different rolls with the larger patterns.
Step 3: Pasting and Hanging
Mix the paste, following the manufacturers instructions. Use a pasting table and pasting brush, apply paste to the paper, working from the centre outwards, making sure the edges are covered (with some papers you need to paste the wall instead).
Avoid getting paste on the printed side of the wallpaper. Loosely fold both ends of the paper into the centre, pasted sides together (don't crease the paper). Then loosely fold in half again. This prevents the paste from drying out before you hang, allowing you to prepare two or three lengths at a time.
Using your established vertical get your pasted paper and begin by unfolding the top half of your first prepared strip, slide the paper onto the wall so that it's lined up with your pencil line, and then unfold the rest.
Smooth out any bubbles, working from the centre out. Carefully trim off any excess at the top and bottom, using a craft knife and a metal rule.
Hang your next piece of wallpaper, making sure that you match the pattern exactly. Wipe off any excess paste from the wallpaper with a damp sponge as you go along and lightly seal the matching edges with a seam roller after hanging each new piece of wallpaper.
The Tricky Bits
If your windows are more or less flush with the internal face of the wall, paper up to the window frames as if you were papering around a door.
When a window is set back into the wall, it leaves a narrow strip of wall all around, known as the reveal. Hang the full strip of wallpaper next to the window and make two horizontal cuts in the paper overlapping the reveal, one just above the top of the window and another along the underside of the sill.
Fold and brush the flap of paper onto the side of the reveal. Crease and trim off the waste at the window frame. Brush the paper into place below the window, trimming to fit as required.
Cut a small piece of wallpaper from your roll to match the width of the overlap above the reveal. Paste this to the underside of the reveal and wrap it around the front corner, tucking it under the paper pasted above.
Trim off the waste next to the window frame. Where one piece of thick paper overlaps another, cut through both layers with a sharp knife to make a matching butt joint. Remove the waste and press down the joint.
Butt the strip of paper against its neighbour in the usual way, allowing the other edge to overlap the doorframe. Make a diagonal cut in the waste towards the corner of the doorframe. Brush the paper down against the side of the frame. Make a crease with your scissors and cut off the waste.
Smooth down what's left of the strip above the door and then trim off the waste, leaving a 2cm overlap pasted to the top of the frame.
Continue with short strips over the door, hanging the next full strip down the other side of the doorframe. Crease and trim off the waste as before.
Turn off the electricity at the mains. Press the paper against the faceplate to reveal its outline, lift it away and pierce a hole in the centre of the impression. Make a diagonal cut from the hole to just beyond each corner mark, and cut off all but about 1cm of each flap. Unscrew the faceplate a little so you can tuck the flaps behind it. Tighten the screws and turn the electricity back on.
Cut the strip of paper lengthwise, allowing only about 2cm to turn the corner. If the off-cut is wide enough, paste it onto the adjacent wall, covering the overlap in the corner. Mark a plumbed guideline on the wall to make sure the off-cut is vertical.
Cut the strip to width, leaving a 3cm overlap to wrap around the corner. Hang the off-cut on the adjacent wall so that it overlaps the turned edge by about 1cm.
Ideally, you should drain a radiator and take it off the wall so that you can paper behind it. But if that isn’t possible, paste the strip of paper to the wall above the radiator, which you have allowed to cool first! Slit the paper from the bottom edge so that you can smooth it down on either side of the radiator's fixing brackets. Press the paper into place behind the radiator.
Don’t rush, give yourself enough time to complete your project. Always refer to the manufacturers hanging instructions prior to commencing as these can vary from one paper to another. Always allow extra wallpaper for large repeat, spoilage or unforeseen problems. Wallpapers can vary from batch to batch or some are special orders with a minimum order (which are non-returnable). For particularly uneven walls, it's worthwhile putting up lining paper first.
Now that you have the know-how, why not take a look at some of the best wallpaper ranges available to buy online today.
Start Out Right!
Believe me, you will enjoy the job more if you get everything together at the start. Organise a tool station in the middle of the room you'll be working in. Gather together your paint, brushes, rollers, hammers, screwdrivers, plastic bags, rags, dust sheets etc.
The Day before you Paint
Don't try to get everything done in one day - Use the day before painting day to gather furniture in the centre of the room. Don’t paint over problem walls, if your walls have holes or cracks, fix them before you start with the paint. Put blue painter’s tape around doors and windows, and cover wall and ceiling light fixtures (light bulbs removed, of course!) with large plastic bags.
Clear the Decks - If you can, clear out all the furniture and accessories. Take everything off the walls. If you can't move everything out, place the furniture and lamps in the middle of the room and cover them. Be sure that you tape the sheet around the furniture. Then put a second cover of plastic or old sheet over everything.
Remove all Hardware - It may seem easier to paint around doorknobs or cabinet hinges but you will to get drips on the hardware and your end finish will look very messy. Remove door knobs. Place the pieces in bags and clearly mark the contents and location (top left cupboard, bathroom door, etc) you took them from. This is a great time to clean the hardware! Put them back when you're done painting.
Before you Paint - I find it is a good idea to vacuum floors and other surfaces. Wipe down walls, floors etc with a sugar soap and then wipe using clean water. This ensures a clean dust free environment before you commence the painting.
The right tools for the job
Natural or Synthetic Brushes. Paint brushes with natural bristles are meant for Solvent based paints. Natural bristles will soak up the water and go limp in water-based paints. The newer synthetic bristles were designed for water-based or Emulsion Paints, but can be used for anything. Densely packed bristles that taper to a chisel edge help with painting a straight edge and cutting in. Split ends or “flags” hold more paint and spread it more evenly and smoothly.
Foam Brushes and Rollers. Foam brushes come in many widths, are inexpensive, and are great for small jobs or touch-ups. Foam paint rollers work well, don't spatter the paint, and are easy to use when you want a really smooth wall. Don't try them on rough surfaces, though, as they will not hold up.
Paint Rollers. Select a roller type according to the texture on your walls. Use a flat, smooth roller for flat, smooth walls. A thicker, plusher roller is for rough textured walls.
Pad Painters. Smooth pad painters offer simple and neat paint application and easy clean ups. Don't apply too much paint to the pad, as it will drip. You'll have to take it apart, clean it, dry it thoroughly, and start over.
Choosing the correct paint
Emulsion or Acrylic Paint
Paint which is water based are commonly called Emulsion or Acrylic Paint. Brushes and utensils are usually cleaned in water. Traditionally used on walls and ceilings, this paint is designed to cover large areas. Drying time is short (usually about 1 hour). Apply emulsion or acrylic paints with rollers, pads, or synthetic bristle brushes.
Solvent or oil based paints
Paint which is resin based are commonly called Solvent (or oil) based Paint. These paints are designed for the protection and decoration of interior or exterior wood and metal. These paint often come under one header “gloss paints”. Because they dry more slowly, solvent based paints allow for better coverage and work well in warm, dry climates where water-based paints would dry too fast. Apply Solvent based paints with natural bristle brushes. Clean up with paint thinner or other solvent.
Paint come in a variety of finishes: Sheen is the term used to describe the degree of light reflection paint has. Usually the less sheen an interior paint has, the less stain-resistant it is. Different manufacturers may have various trade names for them, but in general sheens are classified as Gloss, Semi-Gloss, Satin and Flat.
Gloss is the toughest. It's also an easier surface to clean, which makes it a good choice for areas of high traffic or constant use. Gloss is most often used on woodwork, skirting boards in the kitchen and bathroom. Gloss paint does show imperfections in the surface more than other sheens.
Semi-gloss paints are also durable and easy to clean, but have less shine than gloss. They are just as suitable for woodwork, kitchens, baths, and other high traffic or high-humidity places.
Satin offers a good combination of easy-clean and moderate sheen.
Eggshell is a smooth, low-sheen finish that has less sheen than satin. It is ideal for living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms.
Flat paint is considered non-reflective and a good choice for large wall and ceiling areas. It also hides imperfections well and spatters less when applied.
When painting indoors, use paint marked as "Interior" or "Interior/Exterior." Exterior paint is not for indoor use, it does not dry as quickly and has a stronger odour - an important factor inside the house.
Painting bare interior Woodwork Priming
It the woodwork is bare, you must always star with a coat of primer to seal the timber. This prevents the wood from soaking up later coats of pain and provides a suitable key. You can use a standard primer, an aluminium primer/sealer or a combined acrylic primer/undercoat. In all cases the timber must be dry and as dust free as possible. Brush on the primer working along the grain. Sand smooth, when dry.
Undercoat is a strongly pigmented paint designed to provide a blanket coverage to timber so less topcoat is needed. Apply it with the grain and allow to dry. Lightly sand down after drying to get a perfect smooth surface.
Applying the Topcoat
The following applies to timber which has been primed and undercoated, or previously painted timber (with the old paint still in good condition, but cleaned).
If all the preparation work has been done carefully the surface is dry, smooth and dust free.
Load your brush so the paint is around halfway up the bristles. Apply the topcoat along the grain, brush it out across the grain, and then finish with gentle strokes with the brush along the grain again. DO NOT over brush. It is better to apply two relatively thin layers of topcoat than one thick one.
Painting interior walls and ceilings
At this stage surfaces have been prepared ready for painting. Newly plastered walls should be left for a month before any paint is applied and then an initial coat of thinned emulsion should be applied as a primer before the full strength coats are put on. The priming coat should be about one part water to two parts emulsion.
Painting with a roller is by far the quickest way to deal with ceilings and walls. Cover an area of about one square metre at a time. This will need more than one load of paint on the roller.
Rollers do not get into the corner very good so you will need to apply the paint by brush for this. Use the roller over the area you have just brushed to even the texture. Walls and ceiling will normally need two coats of emulsion if you are changing the colour, or one if there is no change.
Sequence for Interior Painting
Painting in any room always starts with the ceiling so that any paint drips or splashes do not cause problems. Include walls down to picture rails (if fitted) or other high level borders as part of the ceiling. Paint the walls next. In effect you are completing all emulsion paintwork and only when this is done do you tackle any oil-based satin or gloss work.
Make sure you are Wearing Suitable Clothing. No matter how hard you try, you will get drips of paint on whatever you're wearing. Take off all jewellery. Wear old, but comfortable, clothes. Slip-on shoes are a good idea as they are easy to take off when you leave the room. When you paint ceilings, put a scarf, shower cap, or old baseball hat over your hair.
Hopefully this information will give you some guidance on your painting project. If you require any further help please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our top tips and advice for designing and decorating your own home.