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A Beginners Guide to the Art of Wallpapering

Wallpaper has been a popular choice for interior decor for centuries, and it continues to captivate homeowners with its ability to transform a room. The art of wallpapering involves more than just slapping some paper on the walls; it requires skill, precision, and an eye for design. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of wallpapering, exploring the techniques, tips, and creative ideas that can help you enhance your space with style and elegance. So, let’s dive in and uncover the secrets of the art of wallpapering!

The Art of Wallpapering

Wallpapering is an ancient art form that dates back to the Renaissance era, where tapestries adorned the walls of palaces and castles. Over the years, the materials and techniques used in wallpaper production have evolved, but the essence of the art remains the same. Wallpaper offers a unique way to express your personal style, add depth and texture to a room, and create a focal point that captures attention. Whether you prefer bold patterns, subtle textures, or soothing colours, there is a wallpaper design that can perfectly complement your aesthetic vision.

Wallpapering Through the Ages

To truly appreciate the art of wallpapering, let’s take a stroll through history and explore the evolution of this decorative technique. From the opulence of the Baroque period to the simplicity of modern minimalism, wallpaper has adapted to reflect the prevailing trends of each era. In the 18th century, hand-painted wallpapers adorned the walls of wealthy households, depicting intricate scenes and motifs. With the industrial revolution came the rise of machine-printed wallpapers, making this luxurious decor accessible to a wider audience. Today, digital printing technology allows for endless design possibilities, enabling homeowners to bring their creative visions to life.

Essential Tools and Materials for Wallpapering

Before embarking on a wallpapering project, it’s important to gather the necessary tools and materials. Having the right equipment on hand will make the process smoother and ensure a professional-looking result. Here are some essential items you’ll need:

  • Wallpaper

Choose a design that suits your taste and complements the room’s aesthetic. Consider the scale of the pattern, the color palette, and the overall ambiance you wish to create.

  • Wallpaper paste

Opt for a high-quality adhesive that is compatible with the type of wallpaper you’ve selected. Different wallpapers require different pastes, so read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

  • Measuring tape

Accurate measurements are crucial for calculating the amount of wallpaper needed and ensuring precise cuts.

  • Wallpaper smoother

This tool helps remove air bubbles and smooth out the paper, creating a seamless finish.

  • Utility knife

A sharp utility knife is essential for cutting wallpaper to size and trimming excess edges.

  • Bucket and sponge

These will come in handy for cleaning the walls before applying the wallpaper.

  • Drop cloth

Protect your floors and furniture by laying down a drop cloth or plastic sheet.

  • Stepladder

Depending on the height of your walls, a stepladder may be necessary to reach the top areas.

Preparing Your Walls for Wallpapering

Achieving a flawless wallpaper application starts with proper wall preparation. Taking the time to prepare the surface will ensure better adhesion and a longer-lasting result. Follow these steps to get your walls ready for the art of wallpapering:

  • Clean the walls

Remove any dirt, dust, or grease from the walls using a mild detergent solution. Rinse with clean water and allow the walls to dry completely.

  • Repair any imperfections

Fill in any cracks, holes, or dents with spackle or wall filler. Sand the patched areas until smooth, and wipe away the dust with a damp cloth.

  • Prime the walls

Applying a coat of primer will help the wallpaper adhere better and prevent the underlying wall colour from bleeding through. Choose a primer that is compatible with both your walls and the wallpaper you’ve chosen.

Step-by-Step Guide

Now that your walls are prepped and your tools are ready, it’s time to dive into the wallpapering process. Follow these step-by-step instructions to achieve a professional-looking finish:

  • Measure and cut the wallpaper

Measure the height of your wall and add a few inches to account for any variations or mistakes. Use a straightedge and a utility knife to cut the wallpaper into strips of the appropriate length.

  • Apply the wallpaper paste

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to mix the wallpaper paste correctly. Using a paste brush or roller, evenly apply the adhesive to the back of the wallpaper, ensuring complete coverage.

  • Book the wallpaper

“Booking” refers to folding the pasted wallpaper onto itself, allowing the adhesive to activate without drying out. This step is especially important for non-woven wallpapers. Fold the pasted sides of the wallpaper together, taking care not to crease or damage the surface. Let it sit for the recommended time specified by the manufacturer.

  • Hang the first strip

Starting from a corner, position the top of the wallpaper strip against the wall and smooth it into place. Use a wallpaper smoother to remove any air bubbles and ensure a tight bond.

  • Continue with subsequent strips

Align the pattern of each consecutive strip with the previous one, taking care to match seams and edges. Smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles as you go.

  • Trim excess wallpaper

Use a sharp utility knife to trim excess wallpaper at the ceiling, baseboards, and corners. Take your time to achieve clean and precise cuts.

  • Repeat the process

Continue hanging wallpaper strips, one at a time, until you’ve covered the entire wall. Take breaks when needed and maintain a steady pace to avoid rushing the process.

Creative Ideas for Wallpapering

The art of wallpapering opens up a world of creative possibilities. Beyond traditional full-wall installations, there are various techniques and design ideas that can elevate your space to new heights. Consider the following creative ideas for incorporating wallpaper into your home decor:

1. Accent Wall Magic
Create a stunning focal point in a room by wallpapering a single wall. Choose a bold and eye-catching pattern or a textured design that adds depth and interest. An accent wall can transform a space without overwhelming it, making it an ideal option for those who want to experiment with patterns or colours.

2. Ceiling Statements
Who says wallpaper is limited to walls? Extend the art of wallpapering to your ceiling and add a touch of drama to any room. Opt for a subtle, cloud-like pattern for a serene ambiance or go bold with a vibrant design that commands attention. Just be sure to choose a wallpaper that is suitable for ceilings and follow the same installation steps as for walls.

3. Half and Half
Break up the monotony of a room by wallpapering only the lower half of the walls. This technique, known as wainscoting, combines wallpaper with a complementary paint colour or wainscoting panels. It adds visual interest and creates a sense of elegance and refinement. Experiment with different combinations to find the perfect balance for your space.

4. Unexpected Spaces
Don’t limit yourself to traditional rooms when it comes to wallpapering. Consider adding wallpaper to unexpected spaces like closets, stair risers, or the backs of bookshelves. These subtle touches can surprise and delight, adding a touch of whimsy and personality to your home.

5. Furniture Revamp
If you have a piece of furniture that needs a makeover, why not consider using wallpaper? Whether it’s a dresser, a side table, or a cabinet, applying wallpaper to the surface can breathe new life into tired furniture. Choose a pattern that complements the room and apply it to the drawer fronts, the tabletop, or even the sides for a unique and personalised look.

6. Wallpaper Art
Take your love for wallpaper to another level by transforming it into a piece of art. Frame a large-scale wallpaper sample or a section of an intricate pattern to create a stunning focal point for your walls. This creative approach allows you to showcase your favourite wallpaper designs without committing to full-wall installations.


The art of wallpapering brings together craftsmanship, design, and creativity to transform your living space into a haven of style and elegance. By understanding the essential techniques, gathering the right tools, and exploring creative ideas, you can achieve stunning results that reflect your personal taste and enhance the ambiance of any room. So, embrace the beauty of wallpaper and let your imagination run wild as you embark on your next home decor project.


Do you require additional assistance? Why not contact Martyn Clegg Painters and Decorators in Burnley and ensure that the task is done correctly the first time?