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How to prep a room for wallpapering

Two people hanging Lick home wallpaper Fern 01

WordsMaha Elley

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If you want to become a true wallpapering maestro, start by learning how to prepare a room for wallpaper like an expert. Check out our wallpapering for beginners guide to know what mistakes to look out for and how to fix then. Or master the prep steps and you’re halfway there on your journey to a smooth and professionally papered finish. As tempting as it may be to dive right into the actual application, trust us, the little extra time investment will be so worth it.

How to prepare walls for wallpaper: what you’ll need 


Gather your wallpaper tools: 

  • Dust sheets 
  • Paste brush 
  • Sugar soap
  • Sponge, gloves and a bucket 
  • Stripping knife
  • Wall filler and filling knife
  • Sandpaper 
  • Protective mask and safety glasses

Shop our contemporary wallpaper

Person using frog tape on the skirting board of a wall wearing gloves preparing for wallpapering
FAIL TO PREPARE, PREPARE FOR MESS

How to prepare walls for wallpaper: how to set up 


Got everything together? Time to get your working space ready: 

Give yourselves a little more space to work by ridding the room of as many items and as much furniture as you can. If it’s too heavy (or you just don’t have anywhere else to move it), scoot it over to the middle of the room and cover with dust sheets. 

Measure the room and work out how much wallpaper you’ll actually need. Get a little extra (we’d recommend 10% extra) to allow for wastage. 

Time to strip off any old wallpaper and paint. For wallpaper, we’d recommend using a good old stripping knife to start with. Carefully strip off sections of wallpaper, taking care not to damage the wall behind. If you’re struggling, soften up old wallpaper with a sponge dipped in hot water for easier removal. If you’re really struggling, invest in (or borrow) a steam wallpaper stripper and get the job done a lot more quickly (learn how remove wallpaper with a steamer and how to use a wallpaper removal steamer here). 

Want to get rid of old, peeling paint? Get a smooth finish by sanding away any flakes or patches with a fine piece of sandpaper. 

Once your surfaces are free of wallpaper and paint, take a closer look for any cracks in the walls. Fill in any holes or gaps with filler for an even surface. Wait for the filler to dry before sanding smooth with a piece of fine sandpaper. 

Put on a pair of rubber gloves and prepare to scrub. Clean all surfaces that are to be papered with a sugar soap and water solution. Wipe away soap traces with a damp and clean sponge and leave to dry overnight. 

What to consider when preparing walls for wallpaper


It’s worth mentioning: 

Stripping your walls is messy business. Make sure your room is well-ventilated and use a protective mask if you have any suspicions about the presence of lead under the surface.

We know - prep work can result in quite a bit of a mess. Clear everything up before you start hanging wallpaper for a clean working space (read more on where to start with wallpapering here). 

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There you have it - a fully prepped room that’s ready for your handywork. Take a deep breath and prepare to paper... it's time to learn how to put up wallpaper and how to wallpaper a feature wall. Are you using self-adhesive wallpaper? Check out our tips on how to apply self-adhesive wallpaper to a wall and everything you need to know about self-adhesive.

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And if you are working the other way around and want to know if you can paint over wallpaper, then read our guide on how to paint over wallpaper.

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