Summary: Learn how to wallpaper a stairwell, paper the head wall, paper the well wall and wallpaper the landing.
This can be an awkward job and is better done with two people – one on a ladder to hang the paper and another to support the weight of the pasted paper from below. Consult the section on working with ladders for safety advice. An alternative to working from ladders is to hire a staircase platform. If possible use wallpaper that doesn’t require matching a pattern, as long lengths of pasted wallpaper can stretch making matching difficult. The method for hanging the wallpaper is the same as when wallpapering a room; so here we will take a look at the best way of approaching the more difficult task of wallpapering a stairwell.
Building a safe working platform
- Position a stepladder on the landing a safe distance away from the edge of the top stair.
- Position a straight ladder several stairs up with the top leaning against the head wall (the wall at your back when climbing the stairs) and the bottom pushed into the angle between the tread and riser.
- Wrap the top ends of the ladder with padding to prevent the ladder sticking to, or damaging, the walls.
- Place a scaffold board horizontally between the two ladders. If the distance between the two ladders exceeds 1.5m (5ft), place another scaffold board on top of the first to provide greater support.
- Standing on the platform, you will be able to hang the wallpaper on both the well wall (the wall adjacent to the stairs) and the head wall.
Papering the head wall
- Measure the height of the head wall and cut a corresponding length of wallpaper.
- Apply paste to the back of the wallpaper and fold the bottom half back on itself.
- Climb onto the platform and get your helper to pass you the pasted wallpaper.
- Hang the top half of the wallpaper, brushing out any air bubbles with a wallpaper brush but leaving the lower half folded over.
- Remove the planks and straight ladder and re-position the stepladder underneath the head wall at the bottom of the stairs.
- Reposition the scaffold board with one end resting on the tread of a stair while the other rests on a step of the stepladder.
- From the rearranged platform unfold the bottom half of the wallpaper and paste it to the lower half of the wall.
Papering the well wall
Papering the well wall involves working with longer drops and thus longer lengths of wallpaper. However, the process remains the same. Long lengths of pasted wallpaper folded concertina fashion can be quite heavy, so this is where having a helper is a bonus.
- As you paste the top half of the wallpaper to the wall your helper can support the lower part of the wallpaper.
- Once the top half has been pasted and smoothed into position, remove the scaffold boards and paste the lower half of the wallpaper to the wall.
- Remember that because stairs rise at an angle each length of paper has to be cut quite a bit longer than you would if papering a room.
Papering the landing
If your staircase has been built to include a landing you will need to rearrange your platform once again to enable you to work comfortably and safely. This could involve the platform being supported over the balustrade.
- Position the straight ladder on the staircase at a convenient height.
- Cut a length of batten and fix it temporarily to the tread of a stair. This will prevent the ladder slipping off the stair.
- Rest the top of the ladder against the landing wall. The top ends of the ladder should once again be wrapped in cloth to protect the wall.
- Position a stepladder on the landing.
- Lay a scaffold board between the straight ladder and stepladder. If the distance between the two ladders exceeds 1.5m (5ft), place another scaffold board on top of the first to provide greater support.
- Paste the wallpaper and fold it as before. When on the platform get your helper to pass the pasted length of wallpaper up to you.
- Position the top of the folded wallpaper against the wall and smooth into position.
- Climb down from the platform to unfold the lower half of the paper and smooth it into position. Alternatively, your helper could paste the lower sections of wallpaper to the wall.
- Staircase platform OR Straight ladder, stepladder and scaffold planks
- Craft knife
- Wallpaper scissors
- Seam roller
- Radiator roller
- Pasting table
- Pasting brush
- Paperhanger’s brush
- Wallpaper paste
See how to hang wallpaper (guide and videos)
- Removing wallpaper
- Removing wallpaper paste
- Repairing damage to plasterboard
- Repairing wallpaper
- Wallpapering a stairwell
- How to use a wallpaper steamer
- How to paper a ceiling