Wallpapering tools in detail: Wallpaper hanging brush
The wallpaper hanging brush – also known as a wallpaper smoothing brush or wallpaper sweep – is used to smooth down your freshly hung wallpaper. It should not be confused with the wallpaper paste brush that is used to apply paste to the strips of wallpaper or the wall. The two brushes look different, and there's a good reason for it.
Use and purpose of the wallpaper hanging brush
The wallpaper hanging brush is used to press on and smooth out the strips of wallpaper you have hung on the wall. You should always work from top to bottom and from the centre to the edges. Avoid applying too much pressure to the brush or the wallpaper surface when pressing the wallpaper to the wall or smoothing it out.
The latter activity aims to achieve the best possible adhesion between the wall surface and the wallpaper and to smooth out any bubbles or creases. However, adopting the right method is more important than just applying pressure. If there are big bubbles in the centre of the wallpaper strip, we recommend that you loosen the strip carefully from the side so that any excess air can escape. Proceed step by step and avoid rushing as this tends to cause most of the bubbles and creases.
The design of the wallpaper hanging brush, its workmanship, and the type of bristles determine how easy and convenient it is to use and how gentle it is on the wallpaper surface. The quality and structure of the wallpaper hanging brush are therefore very important.
Designs of wallpaper hanging brushes
Wallpaper hanging brushes are available in two designs:
Wallpaper hanging brush with a rectangular wooden handle and set-in wide bristles
Visually, the wallpaper hanging brush looks like a larger version of a shoe brush. The bristles are tightly set into a rectangular wooden block and are longer on the sides than in the middle. The longer bristles on the end are particularly suited to pressing on and smoothing out wallpaper strips in corners and hard-to-access areas.
Wallpaper hanging brush with an elongated, rounded wood or plastic grip with grip recess and flat bristles
This tool does not look like a typical brush, which is why it is more commonly referred to as a wallpaper smoother. The grip is significantly flatter and rounded and its lower part also includes a grip recess for the thumb. This makes it easier to guide the tool when smoothing out the wallpaper strip. The bristles are also tightly packed, but in contrast to the wider wallpaper hanging brush, this wallpaper smoothing brush cannot rest on its bristles.
The type and length of the bristles and the length of the grip differ between the two versions, and this is also reflected in the price. The bristles can be made from high-quality horsehair (natural product) or nylon (artificial fibres) and are between 5 and 10 cm long. A non-professional will not necessarily notice the difference between good nylon bristles and horsehair bristles as both are very soft and dense. However, horsehair bristles are superior when it comes to treating the wallpaper surface gently. The quality of the wallpaper hanging brush also depends on how the bristles have been processed and how securely they are attached to the grip. During the wallpapering process, there is nothing worse than a wallpaper hanging brush that sheds its bristles and does not work properly.
Tip: Only opt for brushes/smoothers with soft and dense bristles which don't scratch. If you are unsure, take a piece of the wallpaper to the shop and try out the brush.
The material and length of the grip may vary too. Wallpaper hanging brushes can be wooden, varnished or unvarnished, but quality brushes should have a wooden grip. A varnished wooden grip is easier to clean. Thin plastic grips can easily break if the brush is made from cheap materials.
The grips/brushes are between 20 and 35 cm long. The size, length and type of bristles have an effect on the weight of the wallpaper hanging brush, which varies between 350 g and 500 g.
The cost factor is determined by quality, size and design. Wallpaper hanging/smoothing brushes are available from just a couple of Pounds while the price for long professional brushes goes well into double figures.
Wallpaper roller as an alternative and for sensitive surfaces
The wallpaper roller – also known as a press-on roller – is considered an equivalent alternative to the wallpaper hanging brush, but is mostly used for delicate wallpaper surfaces that could be damaged by bristles. This includes metal wallpapers, effect foil wallpapers and various textile wallpapers (flock wallpapers). The roller consists of a plastic handle and the actual roller, which is made from rubber, sponge rubber or PU foam and can be easily replaced. It is used in the same way as a wallpaper hanging brush. With embossed wallpapers, you should apply as little pressure as possible so as not to flatten the embossed sections. More details on this can be found in a separate blog entry.