When it comes to transforming a space into a true masterpiece, few things have the power to elevate a room’s aesthetic quite like wallpaper. Whether you’re aiming for a contemporary or timeless look, the key to achieving flawless results lies in the meticulous preparation of the surface. Properly preparing the surface ensures a smooth, long-lasting finish that will make your chosen wallpaper shine. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the importance of surface preparation and explore the specific steps required for different surfaces and types of wallpaper.

Why surface preparation matters

Surface preparation is the foundation of hanging wallpaper effectively. While it may be tempting to rush through this crucial step, taking the time to properly prepare the surface yields numerous benefits, including:

  • Smooth finish

    By addressing imperfections such as bumps, cracks, or uneven surfaces, you create a flawless canvas for your wallpaper, resulting in a professional and polished appearance.

  • Better durability

    Properly preparing the surface ensures that your wallpaper adheres securely, preventing it from peeling or lifting prematurely. This increases its longevity and saves you from future repairs or replacements.

  • Time and cost savings

    Investing time in thorough surface preparation reduces the likelihood of complications during installation, saving you from potentially costly and time-consuming mistakes.

Tips for different surfaces

Different surfaces require different approaches to achieve optimal results. Let’s explore the steps involved in preparing common surfaces for wallpaper.


  1. Clean the surface: Remove any dust, dirt, or grease using a mild detergent solution and a sponge or cloth.
  2. Repair imperfections: Fill any cracks or holes with a suitable filler, then sand the area until smooth. Ensure all repairs are fully dry before proceeding.
  3. Prime the surface: Apply a high-quality primer specifically designed for plaster. This promotes better adhesion and prevents moisture absorption, ensuring a stable surface for wallpaper installation.

Previously painted walls

  1. Clean the surface: Dust and wash the walls using a mild detergent solution to remove any dirt or grease.
  2. Evaluate the condition: Inspect the existing paint for any flaking or peeling. If necessary, remove loose paint with sandpaper or a paint scraper, ensuring a solid foundation for wallpaper application.
  3. Smooth the surface: Lightly sand the walls to create a slightly rough texture, aiding wallpaper adhesion. Wipe away dust with a clean cloth
  4. Apply a primer: Use a primer suitable for painted surfaces to enhance adhesion and prevent the paint from bleeding through the wallpaper.

Wood or panelling

  1. Clean the surface: Wipe down the wood with a mild detergent solution to remove dirt, grease, or wax buildup.
  2. Sand the surface: Use sandpaper to smooth rough areas, ensuring an even surface for wallpaper application. Wipe away dust with a clean cloth.
  3. Apply a primer: Use a wood-specific primer to seal the surface, prevent staining, and promote better adhesion.

Non-porous surfaces

  1. Clean the surface: Use a suitable glass or tile cleaner to remove any grime, grease, or residue. Ensure the surface is completely dry before proceeding.
  2. Sand or etch the surface: Gently sand or etch the non-porous surface to create a slightly rough texture, aiding wallpaper adhesion. Wipe away dust or residue with a clean cloth.
  3. Apply a primer: Use a primer specifically designed for non-porous surfaces to enhance adhesion and provide a suitable base for wallpaper installation.

What about walls that already have wallpaper?

  1. Clean the surface: Dust the walls and remove any loose wallpaper remnants using a scraper or putty knife. Vacuum or wipe the walls with a damp cloth to remove any residual dust or adhesive.
  2. Assess the surface: Inspect the walls for any peeling or damaged wallpaper. If necessary, use a wallpaper steamer or a solution of warm water and wallpaper stripper to loosen stubborn or layered wallpaper.
  3. Remove remaining adhesive: After removing the wallpaper, you may find adhesive residue on the walls. Use a wallpaper adhesive remover or a mixture of warm water and vinegar to dissolve and remove the adhesive. Scrub gently with a sponge or cloth, then rinse the walls with clean water and allow them to dry completely.
  4. Repair imperfections: Fill in any holes, gouges, or cracks with a suitable filler or spackling compound. Smooth the filled areas using a putty knife, and once dry, sand them until they are flush with the surrounding wall surface.
  5. Smooth the surface: To create a uniform texture on the walls, lightly sand them using fine-grit sandpaper. This step helps remove any rough patches, adhesive residue, or bumps, providing a smooth foundation for your new wallpaper. Be careful not to sand too aggressively, as it can damage the wall surface.
  6. Apply a primer: To ensure proper adhesion and to seal any remaining adhesive, apply a high-quality primer designed for previously wallpapered surfaces. Priming helps create a uniform surface for the new wallpaper.

Choosing the right wallpaper

In addition to surface preparation, selecting the appropriate type of wallpaper is essential for achieving the desired outcome. Each type of wallpaper (vinyl, fabric, non-woven, etc.) has specific requirements, including the appropriate adhesive and installation techniques. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or turn to an experienced painter and decorator to ensure the best match for your chosen surface.

Surface preparation is the key to flawless wallpaper installation. By investing time and effort into preparing your surface correctly, you set the stage for a stunning transformation of any space. Remember, each surface requires specific steps to achieve optimal results. If you’re short on time but don’t want to settle for your property’s current look, call our team on 0208 289 6944. We’ll be happy to take on the job for you.

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