How to wallpaper a feature wall: A DIYer's guide

Feature wall with patterned wallpaper next to large window
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Discovering how to wallpaper a feature wall can instantly take a room to the next level. It's the perfect time to embrace bold colours and big patterns — and save money to boot by undertaking this job on a DIY basis.

Knowing how to wallpaper means you can transform your dining room, living room or bedroom quickly and relatively cheaply. But there are a few decisions you need to make before jumping in and taking up the challenge. Which wall should I make the feature wall? How much wallpaper do I need? How easy is it for a DIYer?

In this guide we give you the answers to all these questions and more to make sure you have a feature wall to be loved and admired. 

How much wallpaper do I need to wallpaper a feature wall?

This will depend on the area your feature wall covers. But whatever size it is you need to make sure that you have enough wallpaper to match up the pattern and finish the job. So, it’s important that you get your calculations right.

Most feature walls will simply consist of two measurements to calculate the area of the wall: the height multiplied by the width. So if you have a wall that is 4m x 2.4m (the typical height for a UK home) you have an area that is 9.6m2.

So what does that equate to in rolls? The common roll size for wallpaper is 10m (length) x 53cm (width), which means you can get four drops from a roll in a standard 2.4m high room. If you are using patterned wallpaper you may only get three.

Four drops of wallpaper equals around 2m in width (53cm x 4= 2.12m), which means you will need two rolls for a 4m x 2.4m (9.6m2) wall. But you will need to add at least an extra 10% for wastage, too. So in this instance you would need three rolls. 

If unsure, use an online wallpaper calculator like this one from B&Q. Once you have worked out how many rolls you need, you can work out the cost of the wallpaper. 

How to wallpaper a feature wall

Before you start make sure you have all your tools ready to go, including a pasting table, a paste brush, paper hanging brush, a bucket and wallpaper paste.  

1.  Prep your feature wall 

Removing wallpaper is the first step, especially if you have old wallpaper in poor condition. Once you have bare walls you need to clean the wall and fill any cracks or holes with patching plaster or a suitable filler like Ronseal Smooth Finish Filler from Amazon.

Use a stiff brush to remove any dust or debris and wash down with sugar soap if needed. Next fill any cracks and holes, leave to dry and then sand the whole wall with a 120/180 grit sandpaper. Finally, brush down the wall again and vacuum up any dust.

If you have fresh new plaster for your feature wall you will need to prep the wall before you can think about putting up any wallpaper. Check out our wallpapering new plaster guide to get all the know-how you need to get the job done. 

2. Mark your start point

To start, you need to mark a straight vertical line with a pencil using a plumb line or a large spirit level. If you are using patterned paper the best choice is to mark the line in the centre of the wall.

Get your roll of paper, place vertically against the line and mark the wall where the other end of the roll sits. Repeat this until you get to the corner.

If you are getting narrow strips in the corner of the feature wall, place the centre of the wallpaper roll on the line and mark out to see how this works in the corners. Use the option that gives you the most wallpaper width in each corner. 

3. Paste and hang your wallpaper

Measure the wall and then your wallpaper. Add a couple of inches top and bottom for overlap. Then cut the wallpaper.

Mix up your wallpaper paste and apply to the paper using a roller or brush. Depending on what wallpaper you are using you may paste the wall first.

Place the wallpaper at the top of the wall and smooth down with a paper hanging brush. Work from the middle outwards to get rid of air bubbles. Maneuver the wallpaper into place and make sure the edge lines up with your vertical line.  

4. Trim your wallpaper, repeat and finish

To finish, use the back of your wallpaper scissors to create a crease in the paper at the top and bottom and cut along the crease for the perfect fit.

Now get the next roll and repeat the process, making sure to butt up the edge and line up any patterns. Use a seam roller like the Harris Seriously Good Wallpaper Soft Seam Roller from Amazon to smooth out the wallpaper joins. 

Finally wipe off any excess paste with a damp cloth. Once finished make sure you dispose of your wallpaper paste properly. 

Where do you start when wallpapering a feature wall? 

If your feature wall is a simple flat wall, the best place to start is in the centre. Measure where the centre of the wall is and mark with a vertical line using a long spirit level and a pencil. You can use a laser level if you have one.

If your feature wall involves a chimney breast – or the chimney breast is the focal point – there are a few extra pointers you’ll need to know to make sure that you get a decent-looking finish. Check out our wallpapering a chimney breast guide to get all the pro tips and pointers you need to get the job done correctly.

How do you get a crisp finish at corners? 

Wallpapering a feature wall typically involves a single wall combined with single colour painted walls. To get a crisp, clean contrast between the wall and the wallpaper you need to do any painting first. You don't need to do the whole wall — you can just do the corners where the walls and ceiling meet. However, if you have time, we suggest you paint the whole wall first.

Start by painting the ceiling and use a 2-3 inch brush and paint a couple of inches at the top of the wall. Effectively overlapping the paint from the ceiling onto the top of the wall. Apply the same principle for the vertical corners and skirting boards. This creates a border around the feature wall. This means that when you cut the wallpaper, if there are any small gaps the wall behind will be the same colour as the other walls. 

Which wall should I choose as a feature wall? 

This is very much a matter of personal preference, but remember the feature wall will become the focal point of a room — so don't make it a wall that you see the least. To make an impression you could make a feature wall of the first wall you see when you walk into the room.

Another popular option is the wall opposite where you sit if your feature wall is in a living room or a wall with a chimney breast. Feature walls don’t just have to be a single wall either. You can decorate opposite walls with the same wallpaper to create a cosy feeling. 

Steve Jenkins

Steve is Homebuilding & Renovating's DIY content editor, and has been a writer and editor for two decades. He is an avid DIYer with over 20 years of experience in transforming and renovating homes. He specialises in painting and decorating, but has strong all-round building skills, having previously worked in the industry for 10 years.