In this article, we’re going to look at how you can use lining paper to achieve the same finish as a newly plastered wall. Doing this removes the cost and mess associated with hiring a plasterer or doing it yourself.
If you’ve never plastered before and want to try it out, read our guide on plastering for beginners.
Why use lining paper?
If you paint over a plastered wall full of blemishes and marks, the blemishes and marks are still visible. So we use lining paper to hide the marks, small dents and hairline cracks. This lets us create a good paintable finish without the hassle of sanding down walls and filling cracks.
I learned this method from 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 finished look was going to be terrible. 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.
See also: Essential wallpapering tips
What is lining paper and why should you use it?
Lining paper is plain old wallpaper without decoration. It’s nothing fancy but it’s versatile and functional.
Professional decorators use it for many reasons:
- Hiding imperfections on a wall
- Creating a nice, flat finish
- Reducing shrinkage
- Reducing staining
- Increasing durability and insulation
Which grade lining paper do you need?
Lining paper comes in various grades, widths and roll lengths. It will please you to know it’s cheap and available from most decorating suppliers and DIY stores. Expect to pay between £1.00 – £5.00 per roll for standard rolls.
Lining paper comes in the following grades and thickness:
- 800 – 0.21mm
- 1000 – 0.26mm
- 1200 – 0.30mm
- 1400 – 0.32mm
- 1700 – 0.35mm
- 2000 – 0.375mm
The rolls come in various lengths:
You should be able to find the standard sizes. If you’re looking for lining paper that’s low grade or high grade or you want a longer or wider roll, you might have to shop around to find a supplier (that’s what the internet’s for, right?).
For most jobs, the 1400 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 the 1400 lining paper like this one 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.
Prepare your walls for 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.
Remove any loose plaster and replaster 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.
Don’t forget to use dust sheets to cover your furniture and floor. I also recommend using safety goggles and a face mask to avoid breathing in dust.
When sanding walls:
- Open windows to ventilate the room.
- Keep children and pets out of the room.
- If possible, close doors to stop dust 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.
How to hang lining paper before wallpapering – 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 wallpapering a wall.
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.
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.
How long should you wait before painting lining paper?
When all the strips of lining paper were hung in position, I allowed 24 hours for the lining paper to dry out.
I then filled any noticeable small gaps in the joints between the strips of lining paper using a filler knife and flexible filler. Where the joints had overlapped a little I cut out the excess paper using a Stanley/craft knife and filled the gap, again using the filler knife and flexible filler.
Allow the filler to dry out fully, then lightly sand the filler surface flat. If you are not happy with the finish, refill the joint and repeat the process until the joints have a level flat finish.
Now you can start to paint the wall and hopefully, you will be pleased with the results. I used 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 coloured emulsion using a paint brush around the edges and a roller for the larger surface area.
Preparing the walls, filling the paper joints etc, does take quite a lot of time and patience, but the difference to the end result is very impressive and well worth all of your efforts. When I finished my walls, several of my family members thought the walls had been re-plastered prior to painting.
Hanging lining paper vertically (video)
If you’re using lining paper as a base for wallpaper, you typically hang it horizontally. If you’re using lining paper as a base for paint, hang it vertically.