How to hang lining paper

How to hang lining paper

How do you do it?

Although hanging lining paper isn’t too difficult getting the job done to a high standard can be. There are some common mistakes people make whilst doing it – you can read about it later and hopefully avoid it. Before you start, please remember that lining paper being… paper expands when wet and shrinks when drying up. No surprises there, but a lot of people forget about it. How much does it expand? See the image below. This is 1200 grade MAV Professional Lining Paper and even on this small sample it expanded by 3mm. Although this wasn’t a very scientific experiment it demonstrates the principle. You can expect lining paper to expand by 5mm.

This is the reason why the adhesive application (and adhesive quality) must be spot on especially around the edges. The adhesive’s role is to hold the lining paper (or wallpaper for that matter) in the same place as it’s drying up on the wall and trying to shrink. If you haven’t applied enough adhesive that’s when you start getting gaps at the seams once the lining paper has dried. Now about the the quality of lining paper.  Lining paper isn’t very expensive and that’s why I find it strange that people will look for the cheapest (saving them a few quid on the job) and then be surprised it didn’t work well. Then they talk on various forums that lining paper is a bad idea trying to place the blame elsewhere.


Horizontal or vertical?

One of the most often asked question is whether you hang lining paper vertically or horizontally (cross lining). It pretty much depends on what you are planning to do once it’s up on the wall. The reason you’d hang lining paper horizontally is to avoid the joints of a wallpaper you’d be putting on top of the lining paper sitting directly above those of the lining paper.

However, lining paper is typically 55cm wide and traditional wallpapers are 53cm wide, which means there’s less chance of the joints actually meeting over. It’d take quite a few drops for this to happen. Having said this, it’s best to cross-line the wall with lining paper if you are intending to use wallpaper over it. When your intention is to paint lining paper, it doesn’t really matter which way you go. I know that some professionals do cross-line the walls regardless and fool the eye, which is looking to spot the vertical joints. I’m told that once anyone has hung lining paper they go hunting for the ‘wrongs’ of other DIYers and professionals.



1. If you have old wallpaper / lining paper on the wall it’s best practice to remove it unless you really don’t care much that it’s going to be much harder to remove two (or more) layers in a few years’ time.

2. On plastered walls fill in any bigger cracks end remove any bits that might stick out. Sand the walls down and get rid of all the dust.

3. Sizing the walls is a good idea. It simply means applying very watery adhesive (or specific products that have been designed for the job) with a roller or brush to the wall. Most adhesive labels contain instruction how to get the right strength. If you are using ready-mix adhesive you can dilute it with water. Allow it to dry.


Hanging lining paper

1. Once you’ve prepared the walls (and your tools) cut a few lengths of lining paper. Cut it slightly longer both ends. Apply paste generously. See the video below.

2. Where to start at? With lining paper it doesn’t matter all that much, but most people start either at a side of a window or on the wall, which is parallel to the open door. All depends how your room is structured. The aim is to avoid too many cuts.

3. Use a plumb line or long spirit level to draw a straight line. This is where you start with your first length – make sure it’s straight as all others will follow on from here.

4. Unfold the first half of the lining paper length and overlap the edge. Use the paper brush (or other wallpaper smoothers such as Walwizz) to smooth it out and remove any air pockets. Follow on with the second half. One very important point. Don’t try to brush the first length (or any other for that matter) with a paper brush forcefully. You’ll only stretch it unnaturally and the adhesive won’t be able to hold the paper in one place.

5. Using the paper brush make sure you push the paper right into the edges between wall/ceiling/skirting. This should created nice fold lines along which you’ll cut the extra lining paper off – use scissors or a decorating knife.


Pasting and folding lining paper

The video shows it best. Please note how much paste goes onto a single drop and how well the edges are treated. Always read the label, but typically you need to leave lining paper to soak in the adhesive for about 10 minutes. 1700 and 2000 grades require more time. If lining paper starts to bubble when you are paining it or you are getting large gaps at the seams most likely you haven’t applied enough adhesive.




  1. flycat

    Hi Onwall,

    I want to paint my spare room. I have old wallpapers which are fluted and have bulging pieces. I want to to cover it with living paper and afterwards paint it all over. Is it better to remove old wallpapers or it can go like it is?
    Thank you

    • OnWall

      It’s best to remove it especially that from your description it sounds like the wallpaper isn’t in the best condition. If you cover it over with lining paper it’ll most likely ‘inherit’ the issues from the wallpaper and you’ll need to remove both.

  2. Really helpful – thank you.

  3. I only discovered this site today while checking up on how to apply lining paper. Thank you for the very helpful advice.

    Most of the rooms in my house are lined with old woodchip paper, painted over, and are therefore very rough.

    I was going to have a feature wall with wallpaper in one room, and spent hours trying to scrape and rub down the wall but – although much better – it is still anything but smooth.

    Would lining paper be a good idea in this case, to help make the wall slightly smoother? I dare not try to remove the woodchip because the plaster behind it is obviously old and in very poor condition. Most of the house would need to be replastered to solve the problem. But I am renting, so that isn’t an option.

    • I dont think that a lining paper hung over the woodchip would do much, if anything to smooth out the wall. It may just help if you were to paper the wall using rolls of polystyrene due it being thicker than paper and not quite so rigid. It may work if the woodchip is not too pronounced. Possibly if you were to use a sander on the woodchip it may help to smooth it back a little. These are only thoughts I had. I’ve not tried this method. But given that you rent the place and don’t want to go to huge expense then this may suffice.

  4. Thanks, Steve. The only problem is that polystyrene would be a fire hazard, and probably illegal (remember the polystyrene tiles people used to put on their ceilings?) They discovered that, in a fire, it not only burns but melts and drips as it’s burning.

    I think I’ll just put the new paper on the wall and hope it works. It is has a very intricate abstract pattern (matching it up should be fun, but probably nobody would notice if I didn’t!) I did put paper on that wall before and it seemed OK, though far from perfect. I scraped it off, sanded, filled in some small holes and washed the wall down more carefully than before. I have just sized it as well. So hopefully it will work better this time.

    I also found the first time of papering that a large scraper is quite good at smoothing (roughly) a really bad wall and eventually managed to get the woodchip bumps down to about half their original height!

  5. Dry 21cm, wet 21cm 3mm or 210mm and 213mm

    • OnWall

      Yes, well spotted. On this image, it’s 210mm when dry and 213mm when wet.

  6. Ed O'Connor

    Hi i see from most descriptions that when hanging vertically 1mm should be left between papers. Do you then need to fill this 1mm when it is dry with some filler so it will look good before painting?

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