Lining Paper is a quick and easy way to create a flat and smooth base on walls and ceilings, ready for either painting or wallpapering. Lining paper is a really effective and budget-friendly way to create a professional finish, without the cost of hiring a professional.
You might wonder whether using lining paper is worth the extra effort, but once you see the difference in the finish it can make, you’ll no doubt want to use it throughout your home.
Unless you’ve had your walls and ceilings recently re-plastered, you may find they’re not in the best condition. Your walls may be uneven in places, have dings, dents, hairline cracks and countless holes from general wear and tear over the years.
If you were to paint straight onto your damaged walls, every single little imperfection would show up. Lining paper smooths over all of this and will give you a smooth surface, without an expensive and time consuming re-plastering job.
Using lining paper is much more DIY friendly than plastering. Lining paper also costs a lot less, and unlike going back and forth between patching, poly-filling and sanding, it will provide a perfect finish, first time around.
Lining paper also has additional benefits, such as preventing stains from showing through, and it will even provide a little more insulation too.
You may think you can skip lining paper if you plan on using a decorative wallpaper, but having lining paper underneath is very important.
Not only does lining paper create a better base, it also prevents your decorative wallpaper (top layer) shrinking while drying. Shrinking often causes a gap to appear between the joins and produces a far less professional finish.
Lining paper also makes wallpaper more durable and is the best way to get a perfect finish.
Lining Paper comes in several different sizes (length and width) and several different ‘grades’. Each grade determines how thick the paper is. A lower number relates to a thinner paper, and a higher number means a much thicker paper.
If you have freshly plastered walls, but just have some hairline cracks, you will be able to use a thin grade of paper; e.g. 800
If your walls are particularly old and you have a lot more to cover-up, a higher grade would be more suitable; e.g. 2000.
Generally speaking though, if your walls are “middle of the road”, 1400 is a good grade to use.
Simply measure each wall's height and width, then multiply them together.
Wall 1: 2.4m Height x 4.8m Width = 11.52m2
Wall 2: 2.4m Height x 3.2m Width = 7.68m2
Then add each wall area measurement together.
11.52m2 + 7.68m 2= 19.2m2
Finally, divide this number by square-area coverage (usually found on the packaging, otherwise multiply the length of the roll by the width)
19.2m2 ÷ 11.2m2 (coverage of example roll only) = 1.71 rolls.
This number means you would need to buy 2 rolls and you would have extra paper to spare.
If you plan on using decorative wallpaper on-top of the lining paper, it’s better to hang lining paper horizontally. This technique is called ‘cross-lining’.
Cross-lining will guarantee that there is no chance of the joins between the top layer (wallpaper) and bottom layer (lining paper) meeting along the same line, which is important as it can cause the wallpaper to lift off.
However, cross-lining does demand a bit more skill (it’s much trickier to do!), and it also requires a platform for you to walk across (basically, so you don’t have to move the ladders every 2 seconds!).
That being said, you can hang lining paper vertically providing you ensure the joins between the top layer of wallpaper and bottom layer of lining paper always overlap one another. If this is your first time using lining paper, this is probably the better option - and it’s how I’ve personally done it too.
Lining paper and wallpaper are often sold in different widths, so the chance of joins meeting at the same spot is, I think, relatively low.
If you’re planning on simply painting over the lining paper, you don’t need to worry about cross-lining at all, and you can hang the paper vertically.
While lining paper will hide most imperfections, more significant issues (much bigger holes or cracks) will need to be fixed first. Fill any problematic areas with some all-purpose filler and sandpaper and remove any existing wallpaper, as well as nails, screws and wall plugs.
It’s essential to remove any dust which may affect how well the wallpaper adhesive works. You can use a sugar soap solution to do this, and it must be left to dry out before you move onto the next step.
According to Wallpaper-Direct; if you have newly plastered walls, you should also ‘size’ the walls by mixing up some watered-down wallpaper paste, apply to the walls and allow to dry.
For more info on repairing walls, please check out our guide to Patching Plaster - How To Repair Walls And Ceilings.
You’ll want to plan out a starting point, which will be where you hang the first drop of paper. Edges and corners of a room are never perfectly straight or square, so those aren’t great starting points, as you’ll soon find your paper going off wonky.
The middle of a wall is usually a good place to begin. However, you’ll also want to check there will be a minimum of 10-15cm of paper left at the inner corners of the room to fold onto the next wall.
To make sure your lining paper goes onto the wall straight, draw up a guideline. You can draw a guideline by placing a large spirit level onto the wall, ensuring it’s straight and then drawing a line across or down the wall, depending on which way you’re hanging the paper.
To make your life easier, I recommend pre-cutting a few lengths of lining paper to size. Measure up the wall, add an extra 10-15cm for overhang, and cut with scissors. The more lengths you pre-cut, the quicker you’ll be able to work.
Now you’re ready to mix some wallpaper paste and start pasting!
Each bag of paste will have guidelines on how much water you need to use in the mix, so it’s important to follow these instructions to get the right consistency. Make sure to mix well so that there aren’t any lumps.
You’ll need a good working station for this, so I recommend using a pasting table to lay your lining paper onto. Don’t worry if the table isn’t quite long enough as you’ll be folding the paper as you paste anyway.
Starting at one end, use a pasting brush to apply a good amount of paste onto the back of the lining paper. Make sure you don’t miss any areas, particularly at the edges.
You will need to use a concertina fold to bunch up the paper as you go. Essentially, this is folding the paper back and forth, a little tricky to explain, but below is an excellent video that demonstrates how to do this.
The lining paper should then be left to soak for the recommended time, which you’ll find on the packaging.
Using your line as a guide, you should start at the top of the wall (or one side, if hanging horizontally) and gently press the paper onto the wall, matching it up against the guide. If it doesn’t match, lift off and push back down.
If hanging vertically, you want to be careful not to drop the rest of the wallpaper in one go, as this may cause it to tear.
Next, use a dry paper-hanging brush to press the paper firmly onto the wall, starting in the middle of the lining paper and then pushing outwards.
Make sure to check there aren’t any air bubbles (these can usually be felt as you rub your hand over the paper) and then work your way down (or across!) the rest of the lining paper.
If you find any edges of the paper that don’t have enough adhesive on them, just lift them off, and use a small brush to apply a bit more behind it. You can wipe away any excess adhesive with a damp sponge.
When you get to the bottom, you’ll need to cut the lining paper to size. Make a crease in the lining paper where it meets the skirting, fold it back, and cut with scissors.
Alternatively, you can use a sharp knife (the sharper the better) with a metal guide. When using a knife, go slow and steady with your cut, as wet paper can tear easily.
You can go ahead and hang the next length of wallpaper using the same steps as above. However, instead of using a pencil line to guide you, use the edge of the previous paper you’ve just hung.
Make sure each length of lining paper sits side-by-side and as close as possible, without overlapping. You can use a seam roller along the join to give a seamless finish.
No room is perfectly square and obstacle-free, so no doubt you will have switches, sockets, doors, windows and radiators to paper around. These areas can be tricky, but if you take your time, they are reasonably straightforward to paper around.
For switches and sockets, I recommend removing the top cover so you can apply the lining paper underneath. Cut an X shape into the paper where the socket will be and then cut away each flap before re-attaching the top cover.
For door frames and windows, you’ll need to cut into the paper diagonally where it meets the top corner of the door/window. If you have a recess, you can fold the cut section into it. Otherwise, you can just cut the paper away and neaten it up around the frame.
If your radiators cannot be removed, apply the lining paper as far down into the back of the radiator as possible, using a small paint roller to smooth it down.
Check out this video for a great demonstration:
Once you’ve finished, the lining paper must be left to dry out before painting or hanging decorative wallpaper over the top.
It’s very important not to rush into the next stage of decorating, or you may find bubbles occurring underneath - usually 24 hours should do it!
If you find any of the joins have slightly separated (shrunk) as they’ve dried and left a small gap, you can use some filler to smooth over and create a seamless finish. Otherwise, you should be able to move onto the next stage of decorating and either paint directly onto the lining paper or add decorative wallpaper.
BTW, if you plan on creating a beautiful feature wall, make sure you check out our guide to Wallpapering Feature Walls.
You’ll find the more you use lining paper, the easier it will become, and you may even find it therapeutic!
Also, hanging lining paper will give you plenty of practice, should you want to use a more expensive and decorative wallpaper as your top layer.
Alternatively, if you paint straight onto the lining paper, you’ll be thanking yourself once you see the seamless and flawless end result. Moreover, think about the money you’ll save on not re-plastering!
I hope you found this guide useful, and if it has helped you in any way, please do give it a share! Also, let us know in the comments below if you have any top tips to add, as we love hearing from our readers!
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Kezzabeth is a blogger and DIY renovator. She bought her first house at 20, realising the only way she would be able to get onto the property ladder was to buy a fixer-upper and learn how to renovate, DIY-style