Wallpapering tools

Having the right wallpapering tools, not only makes hanging wallpaper much easier, but also ensures you will get a better, and longer lasting finish. You’ll need a fair few items from your household toolkit such as a spirit level and stanley knife, and in the guide below, as well as highlighting a few points about such tools in relation to wallpapering, I’ll also point out my preferences with some extra pieces of kit that are specifically designed for all wallpapering projects.

Pasting wallpaper

wallpaper pasting brushes

You can use a block brush (left) for pasting wallpaper, but I think you’ll find a simple long bristled large paint brush (right), much easier and quicker to use.

Most wallpapers require pasting which does make having a pasting table pretty important. You certainly don’t need to spend a fortune on one unless you are going to be hanging an awful lot of wallpaper as a cheap folding ‘hardboard’ option is more than enough for DIY use – just remember not to put too much weight on it! If you do want something a bit more ‘stable’, the vinyl topped pasting tables with metal tubular legs are the next step up, and my personal favourite as they are very easy to wipe down and clean, and do provide a wobble free surface when you’re cutting and pasting your paper.

The other vital piece of pasting kit you need is a good pasting brush. You’ll see racks of little block brushes in your local DIY store, sold as ‘wallpaper pasting brushes’, but I find they normally have far too short a bristles, making them time consuming to use. I also think the edges of the block section are really simple to snag on, and damage the paper while you are pasting it. Therefore, if you don’t want to spend the money on a professional pasting brush, I’d always advise simply using a long bristled large paint brush.

Cutting wallpaper

Wallpaper scissors

Standard scissors are fine for wallpapering. Don’t be tempted to use your kitchen scissors!

When cutting wallpaper, you need two tools, scissors and a Stanley knife. Professionals often use wallpaper shears, which are essentially sharp scissors with slightly longer blades than the norm, but to be honest a sharp pair of standard, longish bladed, paper cutting scissors, are more than sufficient. Don’t be tempted to use your kitchen scissors – buy some for exclusive use with wallpaper so they stay sharp for paper. There’s also a serious note of caution here as wallpaper paste will get on the blades, and paste contains fungicide, so you’d need to be incredibly careful about cleaning them before being returned to the kitchen drawer – best not take any risks in my view!

The other cutting/trimming tool you need is a Stanley knife. You’ll see many different designs of sharp craft knives and wallpaper trimming tools in the shops but personally I’ve always used a standard Stanley knife. It’s a simple, classic design that works for me, and even though I’ve tested all sorts of other options, I still think the Stanley knife is the easiest and most accurate to use.

Positioning wallpaper

Paper-hanging brush

A paper-hanging brush is still the best tool for smoothing and positioning wallpaper.

When smoothing wallpaper into place, I find that a paper-hanging brush outperforms other options. I always think just using a sponge is a big mistake as you can’t apply enough pressure to remove all the air bubbles and ensure that every part of the pasted paper is in contact with the wall.

The other option that many decorators use is some form of caulking blade which is basically a wide plastic rectangle with a handle on it. There are also proprietary versions of this type of tool with the Walwiz being one of the most popular out there. Personally, they’re not for me as I just prefer the soft feel of a paper-hanging brush on the paper. However, don’t go too cheap with a paper-hanging brush as I find that if the bristles are too short and/or coarse, you risk damaging the paper. Long pure bristle options are always my choice.

Keeping clean


I always have plenty of spotlessly clean buckets of  water when I’m wallpapering.

Of equal importance to the wallpapering tools I’ve already mentioned are the humble bucket and sponge, or rather buckets and sponges, as one of each isn’t really enough for wallpapering. Basically, any paste residue left on the surface of wallpaper will generally show up as a shiny noticeable patch once the paper has dried, so for a perfect finish, you need to be perfectly clean.

You may think me a little obsessive on this particular subject, but the following technique is the only way that I’m happy in ensuring that my finished wallpaper job will have no trace of paste on any surfaces.

I’ll have three incredibly clean buckets, and at least three new or exceptionally clean, nearly new, sponges. One bucket of clean water with a sponge is used exclusively for cleaning any paste residue off my pasting table – in general I manage to keep it pretty much paste free, but if I do make a careless brush stroke, clean water and a sponge is always to hand. I’ll also change this water after every few lengths. The second bucket and sponge is used for cleaning any paste residue from the paper surface after each length is hung, and the third bucket and sponge is used for cleaning any paste residue off ceilings and woodwork after each length is trimmed. I’ll change the water in these two buckets, and clean the sponges after a maximum of every third length of wallpaper hung.

Now, some may say, you don’t need to be this clean, but following this method does guarantee your finished job will be spotlessly clean, with no annoying shiny patches.

Final thoughts

Having the right wallpapering tools available is therefore essential for hanging wallpaper successfully. For more practical information on such factors as where to start wallpapering, and actually hanging your wallpaper, please check out some of my ‘Related Posts’ listed below.

  1. Lone Sønderby says:

    Dear Mr. Julian Cassell,
    I am writing you from Copenhagen, Denmark. Here I am wallpapering with the help of the Danish translation of your great DIY-book (in Danish: “Handyman, step-by-step, Politiken, 2007”). However, you use a very beautiful wall paper on the pages 283-287. Actually, the same pattern of wall paper is used throughout all the pages as illustration. Where can I get it, please? Do you remember the brand or know whom I should contact? I have (double-)checked all your references and credits pages several times over. Unfortunately, it doesn’t say anywhere in the book.

    Best regards, Lone (Wallpapering in Copenhagen).

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