How to put up wall stickers

Iíve put up dozens of wall stickers and I thought it might be an idea to do a Ďhow toí article listing the things Iíve found are a great help but arenít always in the instructions. The main over-riding thing to remember at every stage when you put them up is to take your time, itís easy to get carried away when the first bit goes up easily and this can lead to stretches and tears (and tears!).

Preparation. First of all, is the surface suitable? Wall stickers will stick on painted plastered walls, glass, metal, ceramic, stone (if itís smooth) polished concrete and on top of untextured wallpaper. Basically, if itís a smooth surface a wall sticker will stick. One thing they donít always tell you is that the paint on a painted plastered wall needs to be at least a fortnight old otherwise when youíve had enough of the sticker and peel it off it will take the paint with it. Now to check the wall; is it free from dust? Is it free from grease? Is it free from those little knobbly bits that I always seem to get with an emulsion roller? 

The Sticker. Remove it from its packaging, look at it, compare it to the picture on the website or the instructions that came with it. Do you know which bit goes where? Does it make sense? Will it fit? Call us if you're still not sure. Wall stickers are easily trimmed down to size with a craft knife or scissors but will it look weird if you cut half that tree trunk off? Once youíve got a handle on all the bits then divide the sheet into its component parts. Cut close to the sticker and youíll have less backing and transfer sheet flapping around when you come to stick it. If the sticker is just one big design then this is the point at which you trim off the excess backing. Again, go close to the sticker and itíll be easier to stick.

Sticking.The sticker comes between two sheets: the transfer sheet which you can see through and the backing sheet which you canít. Peel about three or four inches of the backing sheet away from the back of the sticker at its top and fold it over flat, with a crease. Stick the sticker gently where you want it (use masking tape if it's a big heavy one) and walk across the room. Turn around. Is it straight? Is it where you want it? If itís no you can move it because you havenít squashed it down too hard. Once youíre happy itís right (A helper can pull it taut if itís not clear whether itís straight) then you can stick for real. This is the part where you need to be extra vigilant.

Backing Sheet. Slowly pull the backing sheet downwards from underneath the sicker while at the same time smoothing out the sticker onto the wall using a straight edge. A credit card or old store card is ideal for this. Itís important to take this part slowly as itís easy for someparts of the design to stay on the backing sheet and slide out of view causing stretches and tears. If you see a part not want to come off the backing sheet then encourage it with a craft knife or your trusty thumbnail. Once the backing sheet is off completely, go over the sticker with your straight edge and squash it down firmly.

Transfer Sheet. Now itís time to take off the transfer sheet. Peel off a corner at the top, fold it over flat and start to pull it down. Keep the transfer sheet flat against the wall as you pull it and when you have enough transfer sheet folded over put both your hands on the sticky side and keep sliding slowly down. If you get any bits of the sticker lifting at this stage, smooth them out with a clean dry cloth. If extremeties lift completely and flop back loose remember to stick them back from where they are stuck out to the tip and so avoid rucks. If you get any air bubbles right in the middle, pop them with a pin.

Multi-element stickers. If you get a big sticker in several bits (a tree trunk perhaps) donít try and get them to abut, Itís impossible to get exactly right. Arrange them so they overlap by a couple of millimetres and if thereís a step in the design as a result then trim it with a sharp craft knife.

And thatís it! Once youíve finished go over the whole thing with your clean dry cloth and squash down any bits youíve missed. Your wall sticker will last at least five years outside and indefinitely inside!