How to Choose Wallpaper Paste and Adhesives - What is the Best Wall Paper Paste for Me?

Summary: How to choose wallpaper adhesives and make sure that you have the right wallpaper paste for your home. Find out what different types of wallpaper adhesive are available and what situations they are best used in. Wallpaper pastes and adhesives differ depending on which surface and the paper type you are working with. This project will help you to select the right type of wallpaper adhesive.

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There are so many choices to make when decorating – as if choosing a wallpaper isn’t bad enough, now you need to decide on what you’re going to use to stick the paper to the wall. Let our guide to wallpaper adhesives help you choose.

Applying Wallpaper Paste

Applying Wallpaper Paste

Things to Consider

Do you like to redecorate a lot? Are you in your forever home, or can you leave redecorating to the next residents? If you’re likely to want to remove the wallpaper in the future so you can redecorate, this will make a difference to the type of adhesive you use, as some are easier to remove than others.
The type of wallpaper you have chosen will make a difference to the type of adhesive you use, too. If the paper is printed, textured or flocked you’ll need to make sure you use the correct type and strength of adhesive. Some wallpaper manufacturers will advise you on what type of adhesive to use – if they specify a type, it is a good idea to follow their instructions.

Glue Size

If you are papering a newly plastered wall, you will need to prepare the wall first. Glue Size (sometimes known as primer or sealer) will seal and prime the new plaster, stopping it from soaking up the adhesive and making the surface easier to paper on. If you don't do this, it is likely that the adhesive will just be soaked up by the porous new plaster, and the paper won't stick. You can buy specific Glue Size products, or some wallpaper adhesives can be diluted to do the same job – check the instructions on the packet for ‘sizing’ details.

Recently we has an excellent question about papering to plasticised board. In this situation we recommend preparing the board with dliuted PVA (diluted in the ration 25% water, 75% PVA).

Cold Water Paste

Cold water pastes come in powder form and require you to mix them yourself. These pastes are made from a wheat or other starch-based powder. Mixing up the paste can be a bit tricky – getting the consistency right is the hard part. Too runny and it will just slop everywhere and not stick, but too thick and you’ll get lumps. However water-based pastes do have an advantage in that they tend to take the longest to dry, giving you more of a chance to correct mistakes.

Cold water paste is suitable for most types of wallpaper and can be mixed to different strengths depending on the weight of the paper. It is also one of the easiest types of adhesive to remove, as it is water-soluble.

All-Purpose Paste

All-purpose adhesives have been developed to be used with any type of paper and come either in powder form or ready-mixed. These pastes usually contain a fungicide to prevent mould growth. If you are papering in a kitchen or bathroom, make sure your chosen adhesive contains a fungicide. If you are using an upmarket, hand-printed paper though, check to make sure what type of adhesive is suitable as some may affect the printing ink.

Heavy-Duty/Extra Strong Paste

Heavy-duty adhesives are quite likely to be vinyl-based. This type of adhesive dries quicker, so you don’t run the risk of a heavy, quality wallpaper falling off the wall before the paste has a chance to dry. Use a heavy-duty adhesive if the paper you have chosen is a high-grade, thick paper. Vinyl adhesive is much harder to remove than cold water paste so bear that in mind when thinking about future decorating.


Some wallpapers are designed to be hung by pasting the wall instead of the paper. Although the instructions with most of these papers will tell you that you can use any good quality adhesive, there are specific paste-the-wall adhesives available.

Ready-to-Use Paste

Tubs of ready-to-use adhesive mean that you don’t have to worry about mixing the paste to the correct consistency. However, they do tend to be more expensive. Although it can be an easier option, it is more suitable for a small room or if you are just papering one feature wall. Ready-to-use adhesives are often vinyl-based, a special mixture that doesn’t set until it is exposed to the air.

We sometimes get asked: what is the difference between wallpaper paste and wallpaper glue? Well, paste is for hanging the paper, glue is for re-sticking any edges that come unstuck.

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