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Paperhanging Simplified

This Specially Prepared Article Takes the Would-be Paperhanger Through the Process Step by Step.
By Ray Lewhite.

Although your retailer exercises every care to supply you with one printing of paper, it is essential that the paper hanger should see that there is no variation of shade or tone. Not only is it advisable to compare each roll with the others to ensure they are all of a uniform shade, but also each length before pasting.

Cutting of Lengths

paper hanging simplified
When uncurling paper draw over the edge of the table, pressing the curl part as it passes over the edge (Fig.1). Cut the lengths slightly longer than the height of the wall and lay this face up on the table. Now unroll the paper for the second length, but before cutting place the left edge of the second length along the right edge of the first in order to ensure that the pattern is matched. Cut succeeding lengths in the same manner. All lengths so cut must be pasted and hung in the same order.


paper hanging simplified
Apply the paste down the centre of each length and then brush outwards on each edge in a herring-bone fashion. After pasting, fold the lengths by taking up the corner of the pasted end and carrying the paper over in a fold to the centre (Fig.2. Do not crease the folded end. Avoid getting paste on the face of the paper. If this does occur, do not attempt to wipe it off, as this may smear the colours. Most reliable pastes dry without staining.

Where to Commence Hanging

paper hanging simplified
You should commence hanging on the right hand-side of the window and continue round the room to the door. Then hang from the left-hand side of the window continuing round to the door. This is to ensure that you hang the wallpaper away from the light. The first lengths on each side of the window should be hung accurately to a plumb line (Fig.3): great care should be taken with these lengths, as on there correct hanging depends much of the success of the finished job. It would be as well to run the plumb-line through chalk or charcoal, then snap a line against the wall approximately 20in. away from the window.


paper hanging simplified
Figs.4 to 9 show methods of hanging the paper. Unfold the top of the first length and place the right hand edge against the chalk line. As you unfold the paper along your guide line, slide the paper into position with the palms of your hands. Smooth it down the centre with one stroke of the paperhangers brush, then sweep to right and left. Do this halfway down the wall and keep checking to make sure the outer edge is straight with the guide line. After the top half as been smoothed against the wall, unfold the bottom half, allowing it to hang down, then follow the same brushing procedure. Press the paper against the picture rail and skirting board with scissors and then trim. Afterwards brush the paper firmly down with a paperhangers brush. Any paste accidentally transferred to the paintwork must be sponged off immediately. Hang each succeeding length by putting each new length against the preceding one, making sure the pattern matches perfectly. It is very necessary to butt the edges of the wallpaper. When each length has been on the wall about 10 to 15 minutes, roll the edges lightly with a seam roller. This roller should not be used on embossed or textured papers. When turning a corner trim the length so that it extends a little on to the next wall; corners will then have a smooth finished appearance. This is exaggerated in the illustration. When only part of a full width is required, next to a door, it is easy to cut the paper a little wider than necessary, hang, smooth and tap into a crease and then trim with scissors

Working Around Obstructions

paper hanging simplified
The method of applying wallpaper when obstructions such as electric light switches are encountered can best be described by illustration. Proceed with the hanging from the top as usual until the obstruction is reached. A horizontal cut is made on the edge of the paper closest to the obstruction and the hanging of the length is then completed to the bottom of the wall. A vertical cut is now made in the paper above and below the obstruction, the line of the vertical cut passing through the centre. These strips may now be pulled away and cut off around the obstruction (Fig.10).

Ceiling Paper

paper hanging simplified
If the ceiling is to be papered then it is essential that this is done before the walls are commenced. First snap a chalk line on the ceiling a little less than a width of the paper from the wall, against which the first ceiling length will be hung (Fig.11. Use this as a guide to obtain your first length straight and work away from the light. Paste in the usual way but fold the pasted surfaces together as shown in sketch. This allows the paper to unfold as it is brushed into position. Support the folded lengths with an extra roll and apply the paper to the ceiling with the outer edge against the marked line (Fig.12. Use the paper hanging brush right to left, smoothing the paper firmly into the joint between the wall and ceiling. You will find that the paper laps down on to the wall and can be marked and trimmed off with the scissors. Each succeeding length is then butted against the preceding length. When cutting your lengths allow a little extra to enable the pattern to be matched, the surplus can be trimmed with scissors.


Borders are essential because they add a note of distinctive finish to the decoration. They should be pasted, folded and hung in the same manner as wallpaper.

Newly Plastered Walls

Contrary to popular belief newly plastered wall can be successfully papered, provided they are thoroughly dry. In case there might be a "hot spot" of lime in the new plaster, give the entire wall space a coat of vinegar size (made by mixing 1 pint of vinegar with 1 quart of water). This treatment will effectively neutralize any active lime in the plaster.

Sizing Walls

paper hanging simplified
Size should always be used. It must be remembered that size is pale in colour and may be difficult to see on most surfaces, so make sure the whole wall is covered to ensure complete adhesion. It is important that the size be completely dry before the wallpaper is applied.

Paste Powder

In the old days, household flour was used as paste. This is not recommended. It is essential to use a good quality branded material; directions for mixing are given on the packet and should be carefully followed. The paste should be adjusted to suit the paper, thinly applied for a lightweight paper and thickly applied for a heavy paper. If a heavily embossed paper is being hung it should remain pasted long enough to become supple. Therefore it may be advisable to paste two lengths at a time. It is essential that paste be evenly spread, particularly on the edges.

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