How To Hang and Remove Wallpaper

How To Hang and Remove Wallpaper
Wallpapering is an inexpensive way to freshen up your home. The right wallpaper can give a room character, style and brightness. Wallpaper comes in so many colours and styles that your options are endless, so you’ll always find the most suitable design for your chosen room. Find out how to remove old wallpaper and how to accurately measure up and hang new wallpaper in this helpful guide.

Difficulty rating: Low

These tasks should be fairly straightforward, whether you have experience doing DIY or none at all.

Before you get started on any of our ‘how to’ guides, please take a moment to read through our DIY safety tips.

How to remove wallpaper

Before you hang your new wallpaper, you should ensure that your walls are fully stripped of any existing wallpaper, paste and other residue from previous decoration.


First determine what your walls are made of by tapping the walls in various places. If the wall sounds hollow, you will have drywalls, and you should ensure that you do not apply too much liquid to the wall when removing the wallpaper. Otherwise, you will have a plaster wall, which will not be damaged by prolonged soaking.

Before you begin, you should move any furniture to ensure you have enough space to work in. Lay drop cloths to ensure flooring and furniture are protected from any mess caused.

Ensure all sockets are taped over with plastic and all circuit breakers for the room outlets are switched off, as liquid may otherwise run into the sockets.

Stripping the wall

Step 1: Determine your wallpaper type

Loosen a corner of the wallpaper and try to peel it away: if the paper peels away as a whole, your wallpaper is strippable. Strippable wallpaper can be stripped from the walls easily, and only requires you to wash the remaining residue with soap and hot water.

If there is a thin layer of paper left behind, or you are unable to strip the wallpaper easily, you will need to soak the walls to loosen the wallpaper adhesive.

Step 2: Soaking the wall

For wallpaper that peels away easily leaving a thin layer of paper, this can be soaked in hot water using a sponge or a paint roller. Leave the water to absorb into the paper for 10 minutes before peeling from the wall, using a stripping knife to help lift the paper from the wall if necessary.

If the wallpaper cannot be peeled from the wall, you will need to work a bit harder. First, use a wallpaper scoring tool to ensure your wallpaper stripping solution can properly soak the paper. Then create a solution using a mixture of hot water and wallpaper stripper as advised on the packaging. Alternatively, you can make a 1:1 solution of hot water and unscented fabric softener to soak the walls. Just make sure the water is as hot as you are comfortable working with.

Apply the solution to one section of the wall using a sponge or paint roller. Leave this to soak for 10 minutes and then strip the wallpaper, again using a stripping knife to help you. If you have a drywall, you should make sure you do not soak any longer than this and work in smaller sections to keep the wall as dry as possible.

Top tip

You can also rent a steam-powered stripper to loosen the wallpaper adhesive.

Step 3: Cleaning the wall

Once all of the paper has been removed, you should be sure also to remove any residual paste left behind. Continue to soak patches of the wall where there is residue with your stripping solution, and gently lift the residue using a stripping knife. This will ensure that the wall is even for painting or a new layer of wallpaper.

Once the residual paste has been lifted, wash the entire wall using hot soapy water, and dry using a clean towel or rag.

Ensure that your walls are fully stripped of any existing wallpaper, here is a short video on the steps to remove wallpaper.

Measuring up

Step 1: Measure your room

Measure the total perimeter of the room in metres, including doors and windows, and divide by the width of the paper. Standard wallpaper rolls are 0.53m wide therefore divide by 0.53.

Step 2: Do a little maths

Multiply the height of the room (in metres) by the number of widths needed to get the total length of wallpaper required and divide this by the length of a roll. Standard wallpaper rolls are usually 10m in length therefore divide by 10. This is the number of rolls you’ll need.

Always buy an extra roll or two. We’ll refund any unopened rolls!

Helpful hint…

Ensure that your walls are fully stripped of any existing wallpaper, here is a short video on the steps to remove wallpaper.

Preparing the wall

Remove all loose paint, plaster or old paper and fill any cracks. Wash the wall thoroughly with sugar soap.

If the plaster is gloss painted, rub the wall down with 40 grit abrasive paper wrapped around a cork block.

How to prepare a wall for wallpapering

Preparation is important for any decorating job. Here is a quick reference guide of how to prep properly to make sure your hard work is worth it.

How to cut wallpaper

Step 1: Measure the height of your wall

Add 10cm to this measurement (to allow for trimming) and use wallpaper scissors to cut your first strip.

Step 2: Cut a second strip

Use your first strip as a guide to cutting the second. If your wallpaper has a pattern, make sure you also line this up before you start cutting.

Mixing adhesive

Prepare your wallpaper adhesive before pasting and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

How to paste wallpaper

Paste-the-wall wallpaper

Some types of wallpaper allow you to paste the wall rather than having to soak the strips of wallpaper on a pasting table. To hang these types of wallpaper, simply cover a section of the wall with your adhesive using a paint roller, and unroll the wallpaper from the top corner of the wall to the bottom, smoothing down with a wallpaper brush as you go. Trim any excess from the bottom.

If you have traditional wallpaper, follow the steps below.

Step 1: Place the wallpaper strips face down on a pasting table

Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for making up the paste

Step 2: Apply the paste to the back of the wallpaper

Using a pasting brush, use upwards and outwards movements to apply the paste to the back of the wallpaper.

If needed, allow the pasted strip to soak. The ‘soak time’ is the period of time it takes the wallpaper to expand out to its maximum width (across the width not down the length) once the adhesive has been applied to the reverse. The soak time is normally indicated on the label as a specific time, e.g. 5 minutes.

Step 3: Fold the ends of the strip in towards the middle of the length

If you have a particularly long strip, you can fold the paper into a concertina.

Now you’re ready to hang it on the wall.

Helpful hints…

  • Make sure your pasting table is clean, dry and free from paste.
  • Be careful not to brush inwards at the edges, as this can collect paste on the patterned surface. If this happens, sponge it off straight away.

How to hang wallpaper

Once your wall is clear of imperfections, flat and clean, you are ready to hang your chosen wallpaper.

Do you need lining paper?

If your wall carries some imperfections, or you are hanging embossed or expensive wallcoverings, you could consider applying lining wallpaper first. You can apply decorative wallpaper or paint over lining wallpaper, and it ensures your wall surface is as smooth as possible.

Before you apply the lining paper you should ensure the wall is thoroughly cleaned and any holes are filled and sanded flat – just as you would before applying decorative paper. Lining paper is usually hung horizontally to avoid the joins between strips lining up with those of your decorative wallpaper. If you are painting over the paper, you can hang it vertically, however.

Once the lining paper is hung, you should wait 12 hours for the paper to dry fully before applying paint or decorative paper.

Step 1: Decide the order of hanging

Start all-over patterns at a window. Then work away from the window in both directions towards the darkest corner of the room.

Large patterned coverings should be centred on the chimney breast. If the room has two adjacent windows, the covering should be centred between them.

Step 2: Draw a vertical line down the wall

Using a plumb line, draw a vertical line with a pencil down the wall you are going to start papering. This will ensure that your pattern will remain straight and avoid the pattern looking diagonal, especially on long walls.

Step 3: Position your first strip of wallpaper

Unfold the top half of the pasted length and press it gently against the top of the wall, allowing enough paper (about 50mm) to trim at the ceiling. Use a papering brush to smooth the length into place, match the edge with your vertical line, and remove any air bubbles.

Step 4: Trim at the ceiling and skirting

Use the end of the brush’s bristles to gently tap the paper where the wall meets the ceiling and skirting. To trim any excess paper, mark a line down the corner of the paper with the back of the scissors, ease the paper away from the wall and trim it with the scissors. Brush the paper back into place.

Step 5: Add additional strips to the wall

Place the second strip of wallpaper next to your first and smooth it into place as before. Make sure that you create a seamless butt joint and match the pattern as you position each subsequent strip.

Paper into the corner, allowing a 20mm overlap around the angle. Don’t try to work around a corner with a whole width of paper as corners are often not square, causing the length to hang crookedly.

Helpful hints…

  • Where possible, hang the first strip of wallpaper on a wall without a door/window.
  • Try to avoid getting any paste on the front of your wallpaper. If you do, use a damp sponge to gently remove it.
  • If your design has a large pattern, start at the centre of a feature such as the chimney breast or main wall. Make sure that when you cut paper with a large pattern, that there is a full motif at the top of the wall.
  • Keep any extra pieces you cut off for above doors and windows.

Dealing with awkward bits


Hang the covering from the top of the wall, smoothing it down as far as the architrave.

Use scissors to make a diagonal cut into the corner of the architrave. Push the paper into the angle of the wall and architrave.

Use the scissors to crease the waste along the architrave. Then roll back the paper and trim off the waste.


Treat the top part of the window surround like a door. To cut round the window sill, make a horizontal cut up to the top corner of the sill. Then make a diagonal cut into the bottom corner of the sill. Feel for the end of the sill and make a series of cuts up to this line.

Use the brush to force the paper into the angles made by the wall, the architrave and the window sill. Mark and trim the waste.

Window and door reveals

Cut a width of wallpaper equal to the depth of the reveal plus 50mm over. Paste and fold the piece, but don’t hang it yet.

Take a second length of pasted wallpaper and butt it up against the last full width piece of paper you hung. With a pencil, mark the edge of this piece on the edge of the reveal. Put this piece to one side.

Take the small piece and fix it to the reveal, lining it up with the pencil mark. Smooth it onto the reveal and make a cut through the overlap at the corner.

Carefully tear 25mm off the overlap and flatten it round the corners with a brush. The torn edge, when covered, will show less obviously than a straight cut line.

Hang the full-length piece. Make a horizontal cut with the scissors where the piece hangs over the opening. Fold the overlap into the reveal up to the frame. Crease and remove the waste.

Light switches and power sockets

First, turn off the electricity for that circuit at the mains.

Hang the covering as normal, then make diagonal cuts from the centre of the plate to its corners. Trim the waste leaving 6mm extra.

Loosen the screws holding the faceplate and use the brush to tap the paper under the plate. Tighten the screws. When the paper is dry, turn on the electricity.

Carefully tear 25mm off the overlap and flatten it round the corners with a brush. The torn edge, when covered, will show less obviously than a straight cut line.

Hang the full-length piece. Make a horizontal cut with the scissors where the piece hangs over the opening. Fold the overlap into the reveal up to the frame. Crease and remove the waste.

How to wallpaper around doors, sockets and radiators

Wallpapering around doors, sockets and radiators can be tricky but we have some great tips to make the job easy.

When it comes to decorating your home, there are many reasons to choose wallpaper. It’s very durable and can withstand the inevitable daily wear and tear experienced in a family home. With many fun designs to choose from, kids wallpaper is often a popular choice for decorating a child’s bedroom. It’s also easy to create a stunning feature wall in your home with patterned or coloured wallpaper.

For more helpful wallpaper tips, take a look at our wallpaper buying guide and our wallpapering tools buying guide.

You’ll find everything you need for your next decorating project at Homebase including an extensive range of wallpaper in a variety of styles and colours. Whether you’re looking for floral, striped, damask, kids or plain wallpaper designs visit your local Homebase store or browse our range of wallpaper and decorating tools below.



Writer and expert