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inspiration + ideas

How to prepare a wall for wallpaper

When we fall in love with a special wallpaper, of course you want it to look perfect on the wall, with no distractions on the design details you love.

Actually, getting a good finish on a beautiful feature wallpaper can be down to the time you spend preparing the wall before you start hanging the actual wallpaper. Here are a few tips on how to prepare a wall for wallpapering in order to get that perfect finish!


Trying to hang wallpaper to a flaky, chipped or unstable wall surface is a bit like trying to apply foundation to skin which hasn’t been prepped and primed (think cakey and bumpy, not glowy and smooth!).

So first things first, is your wall clean, smooth and have no residue on it (including old wallpaper as you should never just wallpaper over old wallpaper, unless it is a lining paper that is specifically used to make uneven walls smoother)

If you wall needs a bit of TLC before it is ready for it’s makeover, here are the main steps I’d recommend for surface preparation of a wall before wallpapering.

1. Give it a scrub

Scrub the wall area you are covering with a stiff bristle brush to remove all dirt and loose material. This will highlight any areas that are a bit flaky or if there is any crumbling or dusty areas that won’t take the adhesive well. Your wall is now ready for a good clean!

2. Clean as a whistle!

Wallpaper paste is water based, so does not like coming into contact with grease or even worse, old wallpaper paste that has turned to a thick yellowed residue and interfere with the adhesion of the new wallpaper.

So, next step is to clean your walls thoroughly, using either a detergent or sugar soap solution. Give it a really good scrub, being sure to to remove any grease or surface marks. This will take a bit of elbow grease (but at least you can skip cardio that day!)

Sometimes old wallpaper paste can be invisible to the eye, but if you run your hand over the surface you’ll feel it, especially when the wall is wet as it will feel claggy and sticky. Best thing to remove this with is a large sponge for scrubbing and an paint scraper to target any stubborn spots.

Once the wall is clean, allow to dry thoroughly before going on to the next step.

3. Fill any holes or cracks

Wallpaper will not disguise a hold or crack in the wall and any such imperfection will just spoil the look of the paper, so any holes, cracks or defects in the surface should be filled with good quality filler.

Apply the filler with a spatula then with a scraper, smooth it out and allow to dry. Once dry sand back any bumps and the imperfection should be invisible!

4. Prep and prime

Newly plastered, plasterboard or unpainted walls must be sealed with a wallpaper primer or similar wall sealant before applying any wallpaper paste. This is because the unsealed wall is porous and will just absorb the wallpaper adhesive rather than adhering it to the wall.

Priming and painting the wall will also protect against moisture, damp and other elements and mean that your wallpaper is kept fresh and clean looking for many years to come!

What about self adhesive (or peel and stick) wallpaper?

Although the peel and stick wallpaper may require less preparation because it does not use any wallpaper adhesive and so just sticks directly to the wall, it is still very important for the wall to be clean, sounds and dust/flake/residue free so that the self-adhesive backing can make a clean contact with the wall.

This will also improve the finish when removing the self adhesive paper, as the strong adhesive (with the assistance of a hairdryer to warm up and loosen the tackiness) will be able to be removed more easily without causing any damage to the wall in the process.

Ready to hang your wallpaper?

Now that your wall is prepped and ready, you can get to the fun bit of installing your new feature wallpaper! Now go our helpful installation guide article for full step by step instructions and video.

Click below to download our pdf instructions for wallpaper hanging and if you have any questions, just get in touch and I’ll be happy to help out where I can!

with love + blooms