Wallpapering a Stairwell - How to Paper your Stairscase

Summary: Find out the correct procedures for wallpapering a stairwell, what safety precausions you have to take, where you should start, how to hang your paper and also how to trim it so that you get a great finish

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A nice wallpaper can look really effective in a stairwell, where there is plenty of height to get the full impact of the pattern. However, hanging the wallpaper in this awkward area is not an easy job. See our guide below for hints and tips on the best way to hang wallpaper around your stairs.

Choosing Wallpaper & Paste

When it comes to choosing the right wallpaper for your stairwell, try to pick on that doesn’t have a pattern requiring matching up. You’ll be dealing with very long pieces of paper, which may stretch, causing problems when lining up. For information on choosing the right wallpaper, see our Choosing Wallpaper project, and for help with selecting the right paste see Choosing Wallpaper Adhesive.

Safety First

The most important thing to take into consideration when wallpapering a stairwell is to have a safe working platform. The shape of your stairs and landing will dictate the type of platform that you create.

Special ladders for using on stairs are available, with an adjustable side that can be set to rest on a different level. One of these is very useful when wallpapering a stairwell.

A long ladder can be leant up against a wall, making sure the feet rest against the riser so that it can’t slip.

You can use ladders and scaffold boards to create a safe working platform. If you are using more than one scaffold board, clamp them together to make sure they are secure.

If you don’t have enough ladders or boards, or if you don’t feel comfortable with this arrangement, you can hire special access equipment for stairs. Contact your local tool hire company to hire a stair platform.

Make sure you have a friend on hand to help you out with this job – it will go much easier with two people.

Where to Start

Make sure you plan your route according to any changes in ladder set-up that might be required – you don’t want to end up having to lean the ladder on newly-hung paper. If possible, start with the wall that has the longest drop. Use a plumb line and a long, straight edge to draw a line where your first sheet is going to go. If you are starting in a corner, allow for ½” overlap around the corner.

Pasting & Hanging

You can see the technique for basic wallpapering in our Wallpapering Project. Hopefully this isn’t the first time you’ve tried wallpapering, or you are letting yourself in at the deep end!

Measure the drop carefully, making sure to take into account the angle of the skirting along the side of the stairs. Paste the paper and fold it back on itself, then climb the ladder and get your helper to hand you the paper. Line it up carefully and smooth down the top, before climbing down to smooth the rest.

If you need to paper above where the ladder leans against the wall, you can hang the tops of two pieces if need be, before moving the ladder and smoothing down the bottoms.


You will need to trim carefully along the angled skirting – use the point of a pair of scissors to crease along the skirting edge, then cut away the excess.

If there is a handrail or banister attached to the wall, you’ll need to trim carefully around the fixings. Using a pencil, mark the spot where you need to cut the paper once you have it hanging in place. Use a sharp knife to cut the paper where you marked it, then smooth it down around the fixing, making radial cuts where necessary to get the paper to sit flat around the edge of the rail support. You can then trim off the unwanted flaps of paper.

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