How to change your wall covering

Experts share their advice on putting up wallpaper, tiles, murals and stickers in your home

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Experts share their advice on putting up wallpaper, tiles, murals and stickers in your home.


‘Preparation is key,’ says Ian West, founder and colour consultant at Lakeland Paints. ’If walls and woodwork are dirty, washing them with sugar soap is ideal. Woodwork always needs a light rub with emery paper or sandpaper to get rid of any dirt and oily residues such as polish.

  • ‘When painting walls and ceilings, best results are obtained with a medium-pile roller. Cut in first with a one-inch brush rather than using masking tape – it can cause all sorts of problems and is best avoided.
  • ‘Woodwork is best finished with an angled brush – affordable and available at good DIY stores. For a healthy home environment, use solvent-free odourless paint, such as Ecos’ range. These water-based gloss paints are non-yellowing, so there’s no need to top up whites in future years.
  • ‘When stripping wallpaper, be sure to remove all traces of old wallpaper paste or it will cause flaking later: drench the stripped walls with warm water, allow to soak for a minimum of 20 minutes, wet again thoroughly, and then remove it with a nylon bristle brush and plenty of water (a little plain detergent will also help). Allow to dry thoroughly before repainting.’

Murals and stickers 

Tom Pickford, business development manager at Surface View, says: ’The key to applying a large mural or sticker is starting from the correct position on the wall. Draw a vertical line a drop width from the right-hand edge; use a plumb line to check this.

  • ‘If the mural isn’t self-adhesive, apply a ready-mixed heavy-duty wallpaper paste to the wall, one section at a time. Fix the first drop from the right-hand side, making sure its left-hand edge aligns with the vertical line. This is the most critical point, and this first panel must be vertical to the plumb line.
  • ‘Smooth out bubbles with a brush or squeegee, in a vertical direction. Wipe off excess paste with a damp sponge. n ’Apply subsequent drops; overlap each section as needed. Once affixed, trim the right-hand edge, the top and bottom, using a straight edge as a guide.
  • ‘Trim the overlapping edges, then smooth down the edges to make a seamless butt join, ensuring that the wall mural is fixed at the join.’
  • Full photographic step-by-step instructions are available at


‘Maintenance will be minimal if you choose the right material for your needs,’ says Jenny Wasson, design co-ordinator at Original Style.

  • ‘Consider where and how your tiles or splashback will be used. For example, marble looks fantastic, but is susceptible to staining from substances such as cooking oil, so would be better used away from a hob. Ceramic, porcelain or glass would work better in this instance.
  • ‘A grey grout used with white or pale cream tiles creates contrast and definition that will show off beautiful designs. Darker grouts also hide dirt and grime better than white versions, so are less prone to discolouration. While grey grout has a more industrial feel, if you’re after a sophisticated look, white grout looks effortlessly chic with pale, glossy tiles.
  • ‘Existing tiles that are in good condition, and not cracked or in danger of falling off, can be tiled over using materials such as ultra-thin porcelain if you don’t want the job of removing them first.
  • ‘Textured tiles, such as glass mosaic, pebble mosaic and natural stone, look fantastic on a wall but require more cleaning than smooth products (ceramic or porcelain, for example) due to their uneven surface. Alternative products, such as mosaic-effect porcelain, could be a more practical choice if you want to limit the amount of cleaning needed.’