Learn to paint and wallpaper like a pro

Learn to paint and wallpaper like a pro

Homes expert Lynnette Peck shares the tricks of the trade so you can add DIY decorating to your repertoire

Lynnette Peck shares the tricks of the trade so you can add DIY decorating to your repertoire

There is no longer any need to rely on hired hands – we can all try home decorating tasks ourselves. It just takes practise and patience…


Applying wallpaper can seem the most daunting of tasks, not least because it can get pricey to throw sheets away if you get it wrong. So here’s how to get it right, first time:

  • Firstly, sand down any rough surfaces on the wall and then prime them.
  • To prep, remove all light switch covers, wall hangings, hooks and screws and patch any holes in the wall.
  • Priming helps wallpaper stick – particularly if applying it over glossy-painted walls. Priming also helps remove the wallpaper if you change your mind in years to come. Be sure to buy a specialist wallpaper primer.
  • For hanging wallpaper, it needs to be cut first – invest in or hire a wallpaper table and have high-quality scissors, ruler and a sharp knife. Always cut wallpaper sheets slightly bigger than needed.
  • Most wallpaper now comes with paste already on, so just wet it and go, but check first.
  • Choose plain and cheap-ish wallpaper for your first job and then progress to more pricey, patterned wallpaper when confident.
  • Start hanging wallpaper at the edge of the wall, not in the middle and work away from the window – leave a one-inch overlap at top and bottom of wall so you can trim neatly.
  • Finally, use a brush gently from the middle outwards to get all air bubbles and paste removed from the wallpaper.

Top tip Buy more wallpaper than you need and ensure all rolls have the same batch number, so they come from the same print run.


It is useful to know that one gallon of paint will cover about 400 square feet of wall and you should allow for two days to paint a small room.

  • Work from the top down: ceilings, walls, trim.
  • Painting a room also requires prep, just like wallpapering. Ensure dust, grease and dirt is removed from walls with a mild detergent and sponge. Then rinse surfaces well with clean water.
  • Take the time to tape along walls, windows and doorframes that you are painting around. Pick a brightly coloured tape that is a different colour to your paint so it stands out.
  • Only paint one area at a time and always apply two coats.
  • Starting a few inches away from the edge, apply paint in a zig-zag or ‘w’ pattern.
  • Don’t press or squeeze a roller on the wall, if you need more paint then just apply more to the roller.
  • Leave a space of around two to three inches between the fresh paint and the taped areas.
  • Then use a small brush, not a roller, around the tape and in the corners.

Top tip Just because a wall has been painted numerous times it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prime it. This will make the appearance of the paint sleeker and more uniform when completed.

And finally…

All that’s left is to sit back and enjoy your handiwork. Perhaps you could spend the money you saved on treating your new-look room to a feature table, new lamp, or a bigger piece of statement furniture.

The best bit? When your friends come around and want the telephone number of the decorators you used, you can say with pride, “I did that!”

Books to read

‘Wallpaper: The Ultimate Guide’ by Charlotte Abrahams

‘300 Tips, Techniques and Trade Secrets for Painting and Decorating’ by Alison Jenkins

Are you a dab hand at DIY? Let us know your tips in the comments section below.

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I have always done my own painting, I find it very relaxing and I enjoy seeing the result. I admit, I think I do a better job than my husband ever did with the paintwork, but although I can paper walls, I don't enjoy wallpapering so I always let him do most of it.

Not cheap

bjtraveller 24/06/2017

All good tips, except please do NOT start with cheap paper. I did many years ago and it nearly put me off wallpapering for life. Cheap paper tends to be thinner than good, this means it is easier to tear, or put a finger thru, and tends to stretch. A wise dad put me straight. I have now been doing my own decorating for the last 50 years and enjoying it!

DIY Debs

Debbie 24/06/2017

I've been doing all my own DIY around the home from painting to wallpapering my HSL, tough jobs but so rewarding when it's completed looking clean and fresh. I'm just abt to retackle my kitchen however my walls are uneven with holes. Because I'm unable to have the walls re-plastered due to finacis I plan on lining the walls then painting over that before a put up my wallpaper. Love decorating it's such a reward when it's all finished.

Great tips

Olliebeak1951 24/06/2017

We're just about to tackle our Living Room, so these tips are very timely for us - Thank You. Need to strip off lots of 'painted-over blown vinyl' and go for a completely new image. Need to go and get a couple of paint trays, rollers, brushes and a pasting table - Oh Dear!

Great comments

Trinity 24/06/2017

I have found over the years that wallpaper takes a bit of getting used to. You have to practice putting it up onto walls but make sure it is not too expensive and try lining paper initially.

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