Applying wallpaper to a ceiling may sound more difficult than wallpapering a wall, but with our advice you'll have the job done in no time.

 

Ceilings are hard to decorate—you have to work at a height and against gravity. Also, because the ceiling is usually well lit, any imperfections in your work will show up.

If the ceiling is smooth, consider painting it rather than papering it. You may want to paper a ceiling for a decorative effect or line a ceiling that has hairline cracks before painting it. 

What you'll need
  • Dustsheets
  • Tacks and chalk-line
  • Scissors
  • Pasting brush
  • Wallpaper hanging brush
  • Stepladders and trestle boards
  • Pasting table
  • Sponge
  • Paper
  • Wallpaper paste
Before you start

Cover the floor with plenty of cotton dust sheets. Set up a safe working platform. Use 2 trestles or 2 stepladders and arrange a scaffold board between them so that the ceiling clears your head by about 75mm.

If possible, the board should allow you to paper the length of the ceiling without rearranging the platform. Use 2 boards—one on top of the other—to give a firmer support if the trestles are more than 1.5m apart. Fill any holes and cracks and seal any stains.

Tips for a professional finish

1. Hang paper beginning at the main window and working away from it. If there are 2 windows in a room, hang the paper across the narrower width.

measure ceiling

2. If you're hanging a decorative wallpaper, make a line parallel with the wall as a guide for the first length (this is not necessary for lining paper or woodchip—just align the paper with the wall).

The wall is unlikely to be perfectly straight, so pin one end of the chalk line to the ceiling 25mm closer to the corner than the width of your paper.

Take the line to the other side of the room, position it at the same measurement from the opposite corner and snap the chalk line to make a straight line to work from.

Hanging the paper

1. Brush the whole ceiling with glue size—this gives good slip and helps the adhesion.

2. Measure the ceiling, add a few centimetres for trimming at each end and cut the first length.

fold and paste paper

3. Paste as for paper going on a wall, but, because of the length of the paper, fold it concertina fashion as you apply the paste. Keep the width of the folds to about 450mm and don't crease the folds.

applying new wallpaper

4. If you're right-handed, hold the pile of folded paper in your left hand. Stand on the right hand end of the board, facing the window. If you're left-handed, hold the paper in your right hand and begin at the other end.

5. Release the top fold of paper. Hold it up to the ceiling and position it so the right-hand edge aligns with the marks. Smooth the paper into the corner with your fingers.

When you're satisfied that the paper is positioned correctly, gently go over it with the paperhanging brush.

6. Carefully move your left hand away to release the next fold of paper. Smooth out the paper with the brush as you move slowly to the left, checking that the paper is following the guideline.

The paper will not pull away from the ceiling as long as you keep holding the rest of the paper fairly close. If the paper pulls away easily, the paste is not strong enough, so mix up some more, adding less water. Apply the paste to the ceiling, then smooth the paper back into its position.

cutting excess paper

7. When the whole length is stuck to the ceiling, trim the edges against the wall and the ends. Make a crease with the back of a pair of scissors, pull the paper slightly away from the ceiling and cut away the excess.

8. Continue to hang paper in the same way, making sure each sheet is touching but not overlapping.

Papering around a ceiling rose

1. Hang the first part of the length as far as the ceiling rose.

2. Make a cut in from the nearest edge of the length to the point where the fitting has to go through the paper.

3. Make a series of star-shaped cuts to go round the fitting.

cutting around fittings

4. Hang the remainder of the length. Go back to the rose and trim away the surplus paper with small sharp scissors to make a neat fit.

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