How to Hang Lining Paper – A Complete Guide

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In this article, we’re going to look at how you can hang and paint lining paper to achieve the same finish as a newly plastered wall. Using lining paper this way removes the cost and mess associated with hiring a plasterer (tips for vetting building contractors) or plastering a wall yourself.

(If you’ve never plastered a wall before and want to try it out, read this guide on plastering for beginners. You might also want to check out this list of plastering tools.)

What is lining paper?

Lining paper is wallpaper without any decoration. It’s versatile, functional and cheap. Making it the perfect solution for people on a budget who want a professional finish without hiring a professional decorator.

Once hung, lining paper can be painted or wallpapered over.

Lining paper grades

Lining paper comes in various grades, widths and roll lengths. You can buy it anywhere that sells wallpaper or online.

Lining paper is available in the following grades and thickness:

800 – 0.21mm
1000 – 0.26mm
1200 – 0.30mm
1400 – 0.32mm
1700 – 0.35mm
2000 – 0.375mm

Lining paper rolls come in various lengths:


And widths:


For most jobs, the 1400mm grade is the best one to use. It’s what I used to cover my walls. They were quite flat but had lots of knock marks and old patches of emulsion on them. I found a product like this 1400mm lining paper was easy to hang and thick enough to hide any slight discrepancies.

Depending on the condition of your walls you may need to use a heavier or lighter grade lining paper.

Why use lining paper before painting a wall?

The typical interior wall of a home contains knock marks, blemishes, small dents and hairline cracks, especially if it’s an older property that’s been occupied by several generations of kids.

If you try painting over a wall in this kind of condition, the blemishes and marks are still visible. To get around this, professional decorators and in the know DIYers use lining paper to hide the unsightly marks. This lets you create a good paintable finish without the hassle of sanding down walls and filling cracks.

Basically, you’re papering over the cracks and creating a nice, smooth surface for your paint.

I learned this method from an almost bitter personal experience!

I removed the wallpaper from various walls in my home. Then I filled the holes and cracks and sanded the walls. I thought I’d created a lovely smooth surface ready for painting. As soon as I started applying the paint it became obvious the wall would look terrible when finished. There was no way I could hide all the marks. In fact, painting over them made them more obvious!

I overcame the problem by using lining paper on every wall and I was very pleased with the results.

Why use lining paper before wallpapering a wall?

Professional decorators hang lining paper before wallpapering a wall for the following reasons:

  • Creating that nice, smooth finish I’ve already covered
  • Reducing shrinkage and staining
  • Increasing durability so there’s less chance of the wallpaper peeling away from the wall
  • Providing an increased layer of insulation

How to prepare your walls before hanging lining paper

To achieve a good surface on which to hang the lining paper, fill all knock marks, holes and cracks using a filler knife and flexible filler.

Ronseal Smooth Finish Filler for Hairline Cracks (600g)
Use this flexible ready-mixed filler by Ronseal on interior and exterior surfaces for cracks up to 5mm wide. It comes with an applicator and is ready to sand and paint over in 1-2 hours.

I know I’ve mentioned that lining paper is a way of getting around this, but I’m kind of a perfectionist when it comes to DIY, so I fill holes and cracks whenever I can.

  • Remove any loose plaster and re-plaster if necessary (this post explains how to repair cracked or damaged plaster on internal walls).
  • Go back over the filled areas several times as you won’t get them all on the first, and probably the second pass.
  • Let the filler/plaster dry hard, then sand the wall down, concentrating on a small area at a time. Sand the filler level and remove any loose flecks of old paint and bits of wallpaper. This does take time to do but it is well worth the effort.

I used an electric sander and sanding block (essential tools for every keen DIYer). If you don’t have a sander, wrap sandpaper around a small block of wood and use that instead.

A few tips for when you’re using a sander indoors:

  • Wear a face mask to prevent you from breathing in and swallowing dust
  • Wear safety goggles to prevent dust and bits of minute debris from getting into your eyes
  • Use dust sheets to cover your furniture and flooring
  • Open windows to ventilate the room
  • Keep children and pets out of the room
  • If possible, close doors to stop dust from spreading from one room to another

If you use a lot of filler or plaster to patch up, it’s worth ‘sizing’ the wall before hanging the lining paper. ‘Size’ refers to diluted wallpaper paste (you’ll find the dilution ratio on the packet). You apply this to the wall to stop the filler or plaster from quickly removing too much water from the pasted lining paper. When this happens, it reduces the paper’s adhesive properties.

Sizing a wall also allows you to slide the paper more easily into position when you start papering the wall.

Which is the best way to hang lining paper – vertically or horizontally?

Lining paper is sometimes hung horizontally if it is being used as a base for wallpaper. Because I used the lining paper to get a good surface for painting, I hung the lining paper vertically. As you would when decorating a room.

How to hang lining paper horizontally

If you decide to hang the lining paper horizontally, mark a level guide line with chalk and spirit level, see fig 1 below.

If your lining paper has a width of 24 inches (600mm) mark the line approximately 20 inches (500mm) below the ceiling, this should easily take into account any discrepancies in the existing ceiling level.

Measure the width of the wall and add 6 inches (150mm) to the length for trimming in the corners.

You will need two pairs of steps and a walk board or planks supported where necessary to reach the work area. Paste the lining paper and fold it the way you would with standard wallpaper (hanging wallpaper). The only difference being you are hanging the lining paper horizontally rather than vertically.

fig 1

As shown in fig 1 above, hang each piece of lining paper in position butting the joints together, try to ensure there are no overlaps as these will show through your wallpaper eventually and spoil the finished look.

Can you paint over lining paper?

Yes, you can. In fact, it’s an excellent approach to use for achieving the beautifully smooth finish of a newly-plastered wall without having to go through the process of replastering. Of course, it will never be as good but if you can hide the seams well, you’ll be close. A good quality matt emulsion paint works best for painting lining paper.

How long should you wait before painting lining paper?

Always allow at least 24 hours for the paste to thoroughly dry out before painting lining paper. If the room is cold or damp, allow longer, perhaps a further 24 hours. Allow the same time before wallpapering over lining paper. If you don’t allow the paste to dry completely, the lining paper may come away from the wall.

Once you’ve allowed enough drying time, you can start to paint the wall and hopefully, you will be pleased with the results. I often use an inexpensive base coat of white emulsion, as the first coat tends to soak into the lining paper, then finish off with two coats of good quality coloured emulsion using a paintbrush around the edges and a roller for the larger surface area.

Preparing the walls as thoroughly as I do does take quite a lot of time and patience, but the difference to the end result is very impressive and well worth the effort. When I finished my walls, several of my family members thought the walls had been re-plastered prior to painting.

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