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Cross lining and lining

Posted by Adrian
October 23rd, 2009

Graphic of room showing lining and cross lining techniques

What is the difference between lining and cross lining?

If you are thinking of wallpapering, either an entire room or just a feature wall you may want to consider lining or cross lining your walls first.

By cross lining you will give yourself a smoother surface in which to wallpaper over.

So what is cross lining, and what is the difference between lining and cross lining? And do I need to do it?

The difference between lining and cross lining is simple; ‘lining’ as it is most commonly referred to is putting lining paper up vertically.

This is most common for emulsioning as it gives your walls a smoother surface and hides blemishes, however as lining paper is wider than most wallpapers the wallpaper joints will not fall on the lining paper joints and lift as it dries, so you can hang lining paper vertically, and many people find this easier. I normally hang lining paper in this way.

Cross lining is generally done before wallpapering and is hung horizontally as opposed to vertically if you want to emulsion but want a smoother finish.
By cross lining you are guaranteed your wallpaper joints will not fall onto the lining paper joints and run the risk of lifting the lining paper as it dries.
As I say above, very rarely do I do cross lining as I feel that just ordinary lining (vertically) is sufficient, and as lining paper is 56cm wide and most wallpapers are 52cm wide there isn’t a problem with joints falling in the same place.

So, how do you cross line?

  1. Firstly you need to prepare the walls by removing any old wallpaper, flaking paint, loose plaster and then fill any holes and cracks and make good any loose plaster.
  2. When your walls are ready, measure the length of the wall and cut the lining paper about 5cm longer at each end to allow for cutting.
  3. Measure from the ceiling and mark the wall with a pencil just under a width of a roll, say 50cm, this allows for an uneven ceiling and cutting.
  4. Take a spirit level and draw your line along the width of the wall, you can work to this line and ensure the paper is horizontal.
  5. Now paste your first length of lining paper and fold the pasted sides inward in a concertina style, allow to soak for as long as the manufactures say, this is usually about 10 minutes depending on thickness of paper. You can paste more than one length of paper if you wish but be careful not to over soak the paper.
  6. Take the first length of paper and place the edge of the paper along the line you drew on the wall, either above or below the line.
  7. Smooth out air bubbles as you work the paper along the wall. Trim the ends into the corner and not around it as you would with wallpaper.
  8. Continue in the same way with the remaining lengths by butting the next length up to the previous one. Be careful not to overlap the edges, as this will show through onto your wallpaper, if in doubt leave a 1mm gap between lengths and then the wallpaper will bridge the gap.
  9. When you get to the bottom you will have to cut along the skirting line. Depending if your first length was above or below the line you drew on the wall you will also need to cut along the ceiling line.

Once you have marked your original line on the wall, measure with a roll of lining paper to ensure you don’t end up with a small awkward length at the bottom, you can adjust your first line upwards if need be.

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Posted in Decorating Tips | 20 Comments »

20 Responses to “Cross lining and lining”

  1. Adrian Says:

    If you found this interesting you may be interested in :
    Lining paper – What thickness should I use? –

    Date posted : March 8th, 2010 at 7:23 pm
  2. andra Says:

    just the information we needed. Will be trying to horizontally apply lining paper. Hope we have the skill. Thanks you.

    Date posted : September 19th, 2011 at 12:43 pm
  3. Liz Says:

    I am not new to decorating but my 1934 house has had picture rails removed in all the rooms. The problem is that the picture rails show through the lining paper we put up. We wanted a base to paint on -used1200 lining paper cross laid and the emulsion went up great ..a year later the rail line is showing through the paper and paint………am I expected to paint the area more frequently. It this a sign I am not decorating enough ?

    Date posted : July 6th, 2014 at 1:05 am
  4. Adrian Says:


    You don’t say what is showing, is it a stain or an old paint line? If it is a stain, treat this and then repaint (Dealing with stains), if it is the old paint line form when the picture rail was painted but left when removed, it is an issue with the preparation and can only be fixed by removing the paper rubbing this area down and filling if required before papering and painting.

    Date posted : July 6th, 2014 at 10:30 am
  5. Tony Says:

    If I decide to cross line a large wall, how, please, do I cope with a perhaps 5 meter wide strip of pasted wallpaper – or do I need tressles?

    Date posted : September 18th, 2014 at 8:24 am
  6. Adrian Says:


    You can use two step ladders and a scaffold board, or trestles to make life easier. Also a second pair of hands from a friend or relative may be useful.

    Date posted : September 20th, 2014 at 2:53 pm
  7. John HJam Says:

    Great Advice.

    Date posted : April 15th, 2015 at 12:49 pm
  8. delia Says:

    I have just cross lined the walls before reading your help line.
    I am putting wall paper up also. Do I need to paste over the lining paper, or just the wall paper itself.?

    Date posted : June 28th, 2015 at 10:49 am
  9. Adrian Says:


    You don’t have to paste over the lining paper but I like to for two reasons, 1)It stops the lining paper drying out the paste on the wallpaper too quickly, 2) it can be easier to move the wallpaper around on the lining paper if it has been pasted first.

    Date posted : June 28th, 2015 at 3:03 pm
  10. Bess Says:

    Really, really helpful advice here and “what thickness lining paper”. I’ll let you know how I got on! (feeling a lot more confident than before I read this !) Big thank you x

    Date posted : November 21st, 2015 at 10:49 am
  11. gillian Says:

    I want to cross line a wall 20ft wide, can I do it with one length or should I do it in 2 sections, I do have help. Thanks

    Date posted : December 6th, 2015 at 8:10 am
  12. Adrian Says:


    One length should be ok, especially if you have help. Can be tricky on your own.

    Date posted : December 6th, 2015 at 8:47 am
  13. Mark Says:

    hi, I am putting up 2 rolls of quite expensive mural paper on a feature wall. I am going to cross line it first (thanks for your advise on this). The mural paper requires ‘starch’ based paste which I am going to buy from the wallpaper manufacturer as they recommend – even though I’m a bit sceptical as whether i need to. Question – does it matter if i use a standard paste for lining and paste over it afterwards for extra sealing if I’m then going to use the required ‘starch’ paste for the posh wallpaper. Will mixing the 2 pastes be a problem, even though the lining paper paste will be well dried out as will do a few days before. Hope this makes sense, thanks.

    Date posted : January 14th, 2016 at 6:00 pm
  14. Adrian Says:


    I can’t see it being a problem using standard paste for the lining paper, but it may be worth just checking with the mural manufacturer.

    Date posted : January 17th, 2016 at 4:03 pm
  15. Mark Says:

    thanks for reply

    Date posted : January 27th, 2016 at 3:28 pm
  16. Paul Says:

    We are papering our bathroom for the first time. Would you suggest using a lining paper here. The paper we have chosen is a paste the wall type? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Date posted : May 4th, 2016 at 9:30 am
  17. Adrian Says:


    It depends on the state of the wall you are going to paper really, and the type of paper you are going to hang. Some manufactures may say to line the walls first. My only real advice is make sure the edges of the paper are well stuck down, even if you add extra paste on the wall at theses areas as it will help it lifting if there is any steam in the room for a prolonged period of time.

    If the paper you are hanging isn’t too thin and ‘see through’ and the walls are good then I wouldn’t necessary line the walls.

    Date posted : May 4th, 2016 at 2:23 pm
  18. Tel Says:

    Customer wants me to line the room then cross line it, can I cross line straight over the vertical drops in the same day or wait till its proper dried out??

    Kind regards

    Date posted : November 30th, 2016 at 11:46 am
  19. Adrian Says:


    Definitely allow to dry fully before hanging more lining paper, or any paper.

    Date posted : November 30th, 2016 at 1:24 pm
  20. Froggy Says:

    Always crossline horizontally so that in future (if not now) there will never be a problem with the wallpaper on the same joins.
    Personally I will always do a feature wall by starting in the middle, having worked out where the drops end, and equalize the whole pattern; this is very useful for large patterns and it will also alleviate the ceiling line which is so often out of level.
    I strongly recommend Wallrock, the adhesive goes on the wall and you unroll the paper onto the pasted surface !

    Date posted : October 10th, 2020 at 2:25 pm

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