Wallpapering is a job that most people attempt at least once. And, although I’m not going to say it’s easier than you think, there is nothing to fear so long as you take your time and invest in some basic kit.
You must be prepared to make mistakes though. If you want to get a professional result without wasting at least a couple of lengths of paper you’re wasting your time reading any further.
The Basic Tools You’ll Need
- Pasting table
- Pasting brush
- Plumb line or spirit level
- Wallpapering brush or plastic soother
- Trimming knife and straightedge
I can remember my mum using the kitchen table for pasting wallpaper. It always looked like a struggle and I can’t say the end results were that impressive either?
So, yes, you can get by without but they don’t cost that much and you should only need to buy one – provided you don’t lend it out!
Hardboard Folding Pasting Table (available from amazon.co.uk) – you can pick these basic folding tables up at most DIY stores and, although a bit flimsy, they are OK for occasional use.
T-Class Paste Table (available from amazon.co.uk) – or you can spend a bit more and get something like this, with aluminium legs and an easy wipe-clean top.
You can paste wallpaper with a thick pile roller if you’re confident but most people will prefer a traditional brush.
The cheap brushes you’ll see in the DIY store with a thick head and stubby handle ar OK if you’re comfortable using them.
Pure Bristle Wall Brush (available from amazon.co.uk) – I prefer a standard wall brush like this one. The 6″ wide brushes can be hard work if you’re not used to them. In which case a 5″ might be better? I wouldn’t go any smaller than this though.
You can not hang wallpaper successfully unless you start from a straight line on each wall. You’ll also need to keep checking every few lengths that you’re not ‘running out of plumb’.
You can use spirit level but a traditional plumb line and bob does the job perfectly well enough.
Cheap nylon papering brushes cost £2- £5 and for some jobs they’ll be alright. But you could invest a few more quid and get something decent that will last forever?
Prestige Paperhanger Brush (available from amazon.co.uk) – For the majority of papering projects a standard wide brush like this one is ideal. The bristles are nice and soft so they won’t damage the paper. The solid wooden handle is also easy to grip while allowing you to apply extra pressure for heavier wallcoverings.
The alternative style of brushes have metal ring inserts around the bristles to make them firmer. These brushes are great for heavy duty papers where you need to apply a lot of pressure but are not suitable for most lightweight papers.
Plastic Wallpaper Smoother (available from amazon.co.uk) – For some flat vinyl wallcoverings these plastic smoothers can give excellent results. There is a higher risk of damage if you are too heavy handed though.
This particular tool can also be used as an edge trimmer but I’d advise against this as the edge will become rough and uneven after a few uses. More on this below…
There are methods of applying wallpaper that don’t require the use of scissors but you’ll need something to to cut your lengths with. So they are still an essential piece of kit.
You could spend all day pondering what kind to buy but there are just a couple of basic considerations. Will a cheap pair of scissors suffice or do want a pair that are going to last forever?
For DIY purposes you’re probably better off just buying a cheap pair that you don’t mind losing or damaging?
Silverline Decorators Scissors (available from amazon.co.uk) – you’ll see a few options like these varying in price but there isn’t much difference between them. They’re not going to last forever and will lose their cutting edge over time but for a one-off project they are just fine.
Although they are rust proof you’ll need to keep them clean. Trimming wallpaper can be a messy business and a build up of dried paste on the edges will render your scissors next to useless in no time at all.
Axus Decor Japanese Stainless Steel Wallpaper Scissors (available from amazon.co.uk) – at the other end of the scale these 12″ shears will last forever and are a joy to use. They are razor sharp, heavy but comfortable. And not that expensive?
Trimming the Edges
Traditionally you’d trim the top, bottom and edges of wallpaper with scissors – although getting a straight line takes a lot of practice. However, you can cheat a little by using a light pencil mark.
A better way of getting a straight edge is to cut the paper ‘in-situ’ with a sharp blade and guide edge.
For trimming, a sharp knife is a must and regular stanley type blades go blunt far too quickly to be practical. The long blades with snap-off sections are much better.
Just make sure you snap off a new blade for EVERY cut – yes you will get through a lot of blades but it’s the only way to get a professional result.
Stanley 9MM Snap Off Blade Knife (available from amazon.co.uk) – these 9mm blades are sharper than the larger style blades and cheaper too. I’ve used these knives for over 10 years and wouldn’t use anything else.
The only snag is that you need a pair of pliers to snap the blades off cleanly but it’s a minor inconvenience.
Axus Precision Edge (available from amazon.co.uk) – To get a nice straight edge you’ll need a guide like this. A solid metal edge is much better than a plastic one as it will stay straight and give a neater result.
- A couple of buckets and a sponge are obvious essentials.
- A solid pair of step ladders – because you can’t cut a straight line if the platform you’re stood on is wobbly!
- A seam roller may be useful in some situations although you probably won’t need one? If the edges are not sticking down it usually means you haven’t pasted them properly.
In summary then, you’ll need to spend around £60 – £100 to get a decent set of wallpapering kit. It may seem like a big outlay but it should be a one-off purchase, if you avoid the cheap and nasty stuff, and will pay for itself in no time at all.
If you can think of anything I’ve missed, or want to ask a question, please add a comment below…