Wallpapering Questions and Answers

Updated May 9, 2024 | Posted May 24, 2021 | Professional insight, Miscellaneous | 2 comments

I’ve been a decorator for the best part of two decades and wallpapering is a massive part of my working life. I thought I’d take the time to sit down and answer some of the most commonly asked questions about my craft. I really hope you find it useful.


What Should You Use to Seal the Walls Before Applying Wallpaper?


Most of the time you would use the paste you are using apply the wallpaper. All you need to do is heavily dilute it so the water so the paste can soak into the walls or ceiling.

A lot of the old-school decorators use a very diluted coat of PVA, however this will lead to problems when you come to strip the paper again. If the walls are in particularly bad nick, you can use Zinsser Gardz, which is the perfect stabiliser. If you’re going for this option, make sure you use a fairly strong paste as adhesion can be an issue.

I do like guardz and diluted paste, but there is a specialist product out there which will stabilise AND aid adhesion. That product is Beeline Primer Sealer. You’ll find it cheap, readily available online by clicking here and very easy to use.


Should You Line Before Wallpapering?


Yes, in most instances you should line walls and ceilings before applying wallpaper. There are a few key benefits, which I’ll go into now-


  • Masking surface blemishes is the obvious one. Lining paper will give you a smooth, flat surface on which to work.
  • Your finish paper will often sit better on lining paper than it will on bare plaster. Splicing is made a lot easier.
  • Lining paper will absorb excess paste which cuts down on the chances of it seeping through the seams.
  • Lining paper will expand slightly when you apply your finish paper, then contract and tighten again as the paste dries. This pulls everything tight and prevents seams from opening.

I used to give my clients the choice. I’d recommend the use of lining paper before installing a finish paper, then offer it as an extra. If they were happy to cover the cost of the lining, I could guarantee the work. If not, it was on them. I worked like this for several years without issue, then had a major problem on a job which wasn’t lined. The paper was low quality and too much paste was seeping through and staining it. I ended up stripping a whole hallway, lining it, and starting again (at my expense). Since then, I’ve lined every time.


Can You Paint Over Wallpaper?


Yes, you can paint over wallpaper, but it isn’t ideal. You should apply a test patch of emulsion to ensure the paper isn’t going to bubble, then test for adhesion. If your paper is a smooth vinyl, you may need to use an adhesion primer first. Zinsser do a product called Wallpaper Cover-up which is designed for exactly this task, but it’s oil-based and a bit smelly. Click here for more info.

Technically, you should use an oil-based primer first anyway. This is because oil isn’t as likely to penetrate the paper and lift it from the surface. Once on, the oil primer creates a barrier coat between wallpaper and the additional coats of paint.


Can You Wallpaper Over Wallpaper?


Old-school decorators often used to wallpaper over wallpaper…. I hate them for it!! Other than the fact someone will have to remove it all at some point, the paper doesn’t sit right. You can sometimes see the old seems through your finish paper too. The other issue is adhesion. Seams can open up if you’re not careful. So yes, you can wallpaper over old wallpaper, but don’t!!


What Is The Best Way To Remove Wallpaper?


Try to remove the vinyl layer of paper while it’s dry, then lay it flat along the floor parallel to the wall. You’ll be able to throw your wet scrapings onto this and roll it all up when you’re done. If you can’t remove the vinyl layer, score it with a knife so water can penetrate.

Then mix some hot water with either washing up liquid, or Zinsser DIF and apply to the wall or ceiling with a paint roller. Allow to soak, wet it again, then again. With a bit of luck it should come off easily. If that doesn’t work, crack open a steam stripper and really get into it!

Woodchip can be a nightmare. Visit this blog if you’re struggling.


What is The Best Wallpaper Paste to Use?


Have a look at the wallpaper manufacturer’s instructions. Sometimes they specify a particular brand. If they do, go with what they’re telling you to use, simply because it will cover you in case of any problems. A lot of the time, a manufacturer will just recommend either packet, or ready mixed paste. In which case, you’re better off going with Beeline.

Beeline is the industry leader amongst painters and decorators. They do a whole range of trade quality pastes, so it’s just a case of choosing the best paste to suit a particular paper. We do have a full Beeline Paste Guide which will help.


Are Batch Numbers Important on Wallpaper?


This is a question I’m often asked. We all know to try and buy rolls of wallpaper with matching batch numbers, but sometimes a supplier doesn’t have enough is stock. So, will anyone notice if you use different batch numbers?

No easy answer I’m afraid. Sometimes it is very apparent, a lot of the time there is no difference at all.

The papers with a white background are generally the same across different batch numbers. I’ve found papers with grey backgrounds to be the worst.

One tip I can put forward; If you are to use different batch numbers, try and break into a new batch on a new wall. Don’t go from one to the other mid-wall, as you may be left with an eyesore!!


What is the Best Way to Learn How to Wallpaper?


As mentioned in the opening paragraph, I’m a professional decorator, so I learnt my craft through working for another tradesman. That said, there is an easy and cost-effective way anyone can learn how to wallpaper. The Dulux Academy run a professional course from many locations. The course caters for anyone, from a complete novice to a decorator who needs a refresher.

During the wallpaper courses, you will be taught everything from theory to practical, then get the chance to practice wallpapering in a classroom environment. All the staff are friendly and inviting. Well worth checking out.


Wallpapering Questions and Answers – by Mike Gregory

Updated May 9, 2024 | Posted May 24, 2021 | 2 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Cupit has been in the decorating industry since 2002 and has mostly worked as a Trade Decorator in the domestic sector (peoples’ homes). Self-proclaimed “product geek”, Mike has a passion for paint and decorating tools. Mike now spends most of his time testing paint products and tools, comparing them to similar products on the market, and blogging about the industry in general.


  1. Ciaran

    Hi, I am also an experienced wallpaper hanger, with 35 plus years experience.
    One thing I can’t seem to get good advice on is what to use to colour the end of rolls when using a dark coloured wallpaper, to avoid white showing on seams.

    Wallpaper manufacturers always make a suggestion to use pastel crayons, but have you tried this?

    I am looking for a tried and tested method that leaves good results. Any thoughts??

  2. Lee Beer

    I’ve got 2 stains where the wallpaper joins seems to be paste or glue , how do I McLean it off


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