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Wallpaper Your Bathroom

How to wallpaper a bathroom

In the last few years, wallpaper has made a come-back, adding splashes of colour and accents of luxury to the home. Until recently, wallpaper was mainly used on feature walls or in small spaces, but the trend is changing. Wallpaper is now covering entire rooms, and the choice of textures, colours and patterns available is pretty much infinite.

The bathroom isn't escaping this trend either, but the worry of wallpapering a humid room often stops people going for it. Online retailer Bathrooms.com provided us with a straightforward guide to help you wallpaper your bathroom.

Before you begin, you will need:
  • bucket
  • sponge
  • sugar soap or TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) or equivalent
  • filler (spackle compound)
  • filing knife
  • sandpaper
  • wallpaper paste
  • trimming knife
  • wallpaper scorer
  • wallpaper pasting brush
  • paperhanging brush
  • tape measure
  • spirit level or plumb line
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • paste table or flat work surface
  • ladder

Take time to choose the right wallpaper

Like every room in the house, not every style of wallpaper will suit your bathroom. Take into consideration the size of your bathroom, its shape and how much light it gets throughout the day. This will help you to decide which colour scheme will work best and which type of pattern would suit your bathroom. Many suppliers now offer great ranges of vinyl-based wallpapers specifically designed to withstand splashes and steamy environments. That said, wallpaper is not recommended for areas in direct contact with water, especially near showers.

Once you have chosen the wallpaper and decided where you want to use it, decide how many rolls you will need. Measure the total width you want to cover and divide it by the width of the roll, and do the same with the height, dividing by the length of the roll, including an extra 10 cm (4 inches) for trimmings.

When buying the wallpaper, make sure that the reference, shade and batch numbers are exactly the same for each roll, and get an extra one just in case.

Don't neglect the preparation

Because the bathroom is subject to temperature and humidity conditions much more extreme than the rest of the home, it is even more important to have perfectly prepared walls.

If your walls are already covered in wallpaper, it is best to strip the existing paper, rather than pasting over. Go around the room and gently score the wallpaper before soaking it with a mixture of warm water and sugar soap or TSP, and start peeling up the wallpaper from the floor to the ceiling, making sure you don't scratch the plaster underneath. You will probably need to unscrew face plates around sockets and light switches so you can remove the wallpaper underneath them. If you need to do so, switch the power off at the mains to avoid electric shocks. Once the walls are paper-free, wash them down with sugar soap and water so there are no traces of glue left. If your walls are simply painted, just wash them with soapy water.

After the walls have dried, check them for cracks, holes or loose plaster. Fill in if required, and gently sand down the whole room with fine sandpaper. It is important to note that if you want to refresh your ceiling with a lick of paint, this needs to be done before hanging the wallpaper.

Cutting and hanging the paper

Cutting and hanging the first length is the most important part, especially if your wallpaper has a bold pattern, as this will define the finish and attention to detail for the whole room. If your room has a focal point you want to make prominent, start with that. If it doesn’t, or if your wallpaper is a bit more plain, start in a corner, preferably behind the door. Because walls are unlikely to be perfectly square, use a spirit level or a plumb line to trace a vertical line to start from top to bottom. Measure the height of your wall, add 5cm (2 in) at the top and bottom for trimming and cut your first length of paper. If your wallpaper is patterned, make sure that you have a full motif at the top of your wall, and mark the back, so you can remember which end is at the top when hanging. Repeat the same method to cut subsequent lengths, but ensure that patterns will match up.

Apply the wallpaper paste according to the manufacturer’s instructions, being careful not to get it on the front of the paper. Allow it to soak in by folding the pasted paper onto itself - top to middle and bottom to middle, then in half.

Once the paper is ready to hang, get your first length to the wall. Starting with the top and leaving about 5cm (2 in)for trimming, gently unfold the paper and smooth it with a paperhanging brush until all air bubbles and creases are flattened out. Run the back of your scissors along the top and bottom edges, and cut the wallpaper here. Again, smooth down the paper with your brush until it is perfectly flat, and move to the next length. The same technique can be applied to cutting the paper around tiled areas or fitted mirrors

Corners and sockets

Corners, light switches and sockets are fiddly areas, but it is essential to get them right or the finish will look untidy.

For corners, never use a full width of paper, because the angle between the two walls is likely to be uneven. Measure the width between your last length and the corner and add a couple of centimetres to paste around the corner. Cut your paper lengthwise making sure it is straight. Paste it onto the wall and round the corner. Now paste the remaining width from the corner, slightly overlapping with the wallpaper that's just been hung, trying to match the pattern as well as you can and making sure it is straight. A vertical line could be traced on the wall beforehand to help.

The cleanest finish around sockets and light switches will be achieved by going under the fittings. Always switch the power off when unscrewing the plates and working near electric fixtures. Fit the wallpaper as usual and go over the fitting. Pierce the wallpaper in a X shape over the fitting, and then peel the paper away, trim it slightly and tuck it under the fitting. Leave to dry before screwing the fitting back in.

Enjoy the result!

If carefully planned, wallpapering a bathroom is a simple way to totally change the atmosphere of the room. Take your time, read the instructions for the various products before you start and you will get great results in a few hours.

Thank you to online retailer Bathrooms.com for this article.


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