Hanging Wallpaper — A Basic Guide

hanging-wallpaperHanging wallpaper seems very straightforward, but it’s actually one of the easiest DIY jobs to mess up. It’s usually better to leave it to the professionals, and if you’re looking for wallpaper hanging in London, Handy Squad are experts at it. If you choose to have a go yourself, here are some things to bear in mind.

General Points

• Remember it’s the exception rather than the rule for houses to have completely straight walls. Trust accurate measuring, rather than appearances.
• A large, elaborate pattern can look good, but the more complex the room is, the more likely it’ll end up unmatching. If in doubt, use plain or minimally patterned wallpaper.
• When matching up the pattern on two strips, doing it at eye-level is more accurate.
• Keep a jar of warm water to clean your scissors regularly, and clean any paste off your seam roller before it dries.
• Remove all fittings before you start, but leave the wall plugs in place and put a matchstick in each. When you hang a strip over the place, line the paper up carefully with the matchstick and pierce the paper with it.

Papering Walls

It’s generally best to start on a wall that doesn’t have a window or door in it, although if you have an elaborate pattern, it may be better to start above the fireplace and establish the pattern from there.

Starting at a corner, draw a line 480mm from the corner from the ceiling to the skirting-board, using a spirit level or plumb line. After pasting your first strip, position it at the top of the wall, allowing a 50mm overlap onto the ceiling, with its right edge level with your line. When you’re sure of the position, smooth it down with a paper-hanging brush, working from the centre outwards and making sure there are no bubbles.

Crease the top and bottom into the corners of the ceiling and skirting-board, trim along the creases with the scissors and brush the edges into place. Use this strip as a guide to hanging the next, remembering to line up the pattern, and use the seam roller on the joins when you have a few pieces done.

Papering Corners

Corners are the hardest bits to get right, and if there are a lot of them, you may want to keep your wallpaper plain or simply patterned.

Whether it’s an internal or external corner, measure the distance from the last strip to the corner at several heights and use the widest measurement. Cut and hang a strip, allowing for 25mm extra to stick lightly to the other wall, and smooth it with a brush and seam roller.

On the other wall, measure the width of the strip (or the off-cut, if it’s wide enough) and use a plumb line to draw the edge. Hang the strip overlapping the 25mm of the previous one, using border adhesive to fix it.

Consider Using a Professional

If you feel confident that you can hang your own wallpaper effectively, good luck. If not, feel free to give Handy Squad a call, and we’ll be happy to provide you with an expert, professional job.

Some Handy Tips for Fitting a Shower

fitting-a-showerThere several different types of shower available, but the main ones are electric or mixer (with or without a pump). It’s vital to choose the right one for your plumbing system. A gravity-fed system should be compatible with any, whereas a combination boiler or a direct feed from the mains won’t allow a pump.

Fitting a shower is possible for someone with advanced DIY skills, but if you’re not completely confident or are unsure which type to choose, you’d be better hiring professionals, as getting the plumbing wrong can be disastrous. For fitting a shower in London, Handy Squad can do it for you expertly.

Fitting an Electric Shower

For an electric shower, you’ll need the water pipe and electrical cable in place first. Bring a 15mm pipe from the cold water supply and, using the shower fitting as a guide, drill a hole for it to come through. Feed the pipe through the wall and fit an isolating valve and the proper connector.

Check the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure you have the correct cable. Drill a hole in the wall and take the cable to a ceiling-mounted pull-cord switch. However, this has to be connected up by a qualified electrician, such as Handy Squad’s handymen, to comply with safety requirements.

Mark the fixing holes by holding the unit in place, then drill the holes and insert wall plugs and a little sanitary silicone sealant. Feed the pipe and cable through the unit and screw it to the wall, then connect the inlet pipe, tightening the compression fitting with a pipe wrench.

Attach the live and neutral cores of the cable to the “load” terminals and the earth core to the “earth” terminal and fit the cover, checking the rubber seal is secure. Then fix the rail on the wall and attach the handset to the hose, using the washers supplied.

Fitting a Mixer Shower

A thermostatic mixer shower can be connected to the hot and cold supplies via branch pipes. If your supply is gravity-fed, you can install a pump to increase the flow, which can be hidden under the bath or in a cupboard. If you’re not using a pump, the shower head should be at least a metre below the bottom of the tank.

Having read the manufacture’s instructions thoroughly and checked that you have all parts, bring the hot and cold inlet pipes to the shower area, making sure they’re fixed inside the wall to stop them moving. Make sure you fit the compression olives, and flush the pipework through before connecting it up. The mixer unit can then be assembled according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once your shower of whichever type is in place, if you aren’t using it as part of your bath, you can install rails, a shower tray or an enclosure. Follow the instructions that come with these, but seal your tray or enclosure securely with silicone to ensure it’s watertight.

Consider a Professional

Plumbing and electrics are the two most hazardous areas for DIYers, and combining the two makes the danger far greater. If you’re absolutely sure you know what you’re doing, these tips should help you stay safe. Otherwise, give Handy Squad a call, and we’ll be delighted to install your shower.

Building a Greenhouse

greenhouse-handysquadA greenhouse is a must in many gardens. Its controlled environment can not only enable you to grow exotic plants that wouldn’t survive outside, but will also either protect plants from frost or to bring on others early.

It needs to be carefully constructed to be effective, though. If you’re not confident about building a greenhouse in London, Handy Squad can put it up expertly, but if you decide to tackle it yourself, there are several things to remember.

What You Need

You can buy various sizes of ready-to-assemble greenhouses, with either timber or aluminium frames — the latter is easier to manage. It’s generally advisable, though not essential, to also buy a galvanised steel base.

Your glazing can be horticultural glass, toughened glass or polycarbonate panels. Horticultural glass shatters fairly easily and may be unwise if you have children. The glazing should have adjustable vents, so you can control ventilation.

Make sure you have room to get all the way round your greenhouse, and lay concrete or paved paths, both inside and outside, before you erect the structure.

Laying the Base

If you’re using a steel base, there are three ways of fixing it securely — small pockets of concrete with hooks embedded; bolting it to a concrete footing strip 200mm wide by 100mm deep; or fixing it to a course of bricks on the concrete footing. If you’re not using a base, you can attach the frame to whatever footing you use, but you may need wooden battens in between.

Using bricks is generally recommended. After checking the base kit to make sure everything’s there, assemble it according to the manufacturer’s instructions and lay it on the ground where you want the greenhouse. Mark it with two parallel builder’s lines, one 50mm from the outside, the other 150mm from the inside.

Dig out the trench and fill it with concrete, ensuring the top is perfectly level. When it’s completely dry, lay the base on it and draw a pencil line around its outer edge. Lay a single course of bricks around the centre of the concrete and give the mortar 24 hours to dry, then lift the base onto the bricks.

Building the Greenhouse

Lay out the pieces for each gable in turn on a flat surface, making sure everything’s the right way round, and bolt them loosely into place. Then follow the same procedure for each side and loosely bolt the four pieces together before screwing the frame loosely to the base.

Screw the roof ridge loosely between the two ends and attach the roof vent fittings before screwing in the roof glazing bars. Check with a spirit level that it’s completely level, then tighten all bolts and screws and drill 25mm frame fittings through the base into the brick course.

Assemble and screw the roof vent and slide it into place, then push the rubber line into the slots around the frame. Fit the glass from the roof down, securing each pane with clips. You’ll need to wear goggles and gloves for this, and work patiently, making sure each pane is right. Finally, assemble the door, including its glass, and slide it into place.

Think About a Professional

If you’re confident about building your greenhouse, well and good, but it may be better to get a professional in rather than ending up with a wonky and inefficient greenhouse. Handy Squad’s handymen can put up any type of greenhouse to the highest standard.

Tips on Dry-Lining a Wall

dry-lining-wallDry-lining, attaching plasterboard to a wall, is an easy way to prepare it for decoration. It looks straightforward, but it can be easy to mess up, and there are hazards, too. It’s usually best to get it done professionally and, if you’re interested in dry-lining in London, Handy Squad’s handymen take this kind of job in their stride.

If you feel skillful enough to do it yourself, though, make sure you wear gloves, safety goggles and a dust mask at all times, and especially when cutting metal.

Fitting the Plasterboard

For each board you’re going to fit, measure the width away from the window and use a laser level or spirit level to draw a vertical line from floor to ceiling. Do the same along the wall, then mark a line across the top, allowing 12.5mm for the board and 10-15mm for adhesive.

Plasterboard is normally attached to the wall with adhesive (which dries quickly, so only do small sections at a time), but alternatively you can fix a framework of timber studs to the wall and nail the plasterboard to it. This is useful if the wall’s in poor condition, but it also allows you to use the cavity for thermal insulation or to help with soundproofing.

Mark out positions for the adhesive dabs according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then mix the adhesive and apply the dabs with a builder’s float and pointing hawk. Align the plasterboard with the lines you drew and tap it into place with a heavy batten (e.g. a long piece of 50x100mm timber). Check that it’s level and that it fits against the ceiling. If it doesn’t, raise it off the floor with board lifter till the adhesive dries.

Cutting and Fitting

To make neat cuts in the plasterboard (for a windowsill, for instance) you need a plasterboard padsaw, rather than improvising. Measure on the wall the distance between where the edge of the board will be and end of the sill, then mark it out on the plasterboard and cut it out with padsaw.

To plasterboard a window recess, measure and cut the pieces for the sides and top. Once you’ve fixed them with adhesive, you’ll need to hold them in place while it dries. You can use masking tape for the sides, but for the top piece you’ll need to support it with timber between the board and the sill.


To finish both internal and external angles, as well as the joins between the ceiling and the plasterboard, you can use a paper-faced metal angle bead fixed with jointing compound. When you’ve measured the height or length, cut the angle bead with tinsnips 12.5mm shorter than your measurement, then mix the jointing compound and spread it onto the corner, covering slightly more than the width of the angle bead. Press the angle bead into place, then cover it with jointing compound and smooth with a trowel.

The other joins can also be smoothed with jointing compound, sanding it smooth when it’s dry. In the end, though, the plasterboard will need to be plastered over, and this is best done by a professional. Whether you just need this last stage done, or whether you want to leave the whole process to experts, Handy Squad can provide an first-class service.