Wallpaper 101 – Old House Journal Magazine

specialty wallpapers
A montage of handmade papers from French maker Zuber.

Wallpapering can’t be that difficult, I believed, as I contemplated a DIY job in my little powder room. When strips started peeling off the wall and paste was drying in my hair, I knew I used to be over my head. Then I met with the Seattle-based wallpaper hanger Jeffrey Tritt (trittj@msn.com) to put in writing this text geared toward novices. He reassures me that wallpapering is doable should you break it down and are have the appropriate gear and instruments earlier than you begin. Tritt helped me sum up the method in 10 steps.

1. Measure rigorously earlier than ordering.(Google “wallpaper calculator” or go proper to omnicalculator.com) You want the room’s size, width, and top; additionally, the variety of doorways and home windows and their measurements.

2. Overview the wallpaper’s specs on sample repeat and size, and width of every roll, to find out what number of rolls you have to. A web-based wallpaper calculator does this mechanically for you. Comply with suggestions for waste from drop matching. Then, spherical up a minimum of 10%, or extra if you wish to retailer away matching paper for future repairs.

3. Do the prep work correctly. That is crucial for adherence and a clean end. Be sure that the partitions are very clear and dry; washing with TSP or an eco-friendly substitute removes filth and grease, adhesive, and paint splatters.

Wall surfaces ought to be freed from hooks, nails, and screws; patch and fill holes with spackling, then sandpaper to clean. Take away any mould or mildew utilizing 1 cup bleach to 1 gallon scorching water. After they dry, partitions ought to be painted with a mixture primer–sealer to stop moisture buildup and provides an excellent floor for adherence. That additionally makes it simpler to take away the paper sooner or later.

4. Learn the instructions that got here along with your wallpaper. Every producer has particular person suggestions, together with which paste to make use of and the way lengthy to let the paste sit earlier than hanging. Generally they recommend “dry hanging,” pasting solely the wall floor and never the paper.

5. To begin papering: Measure the peak of the primary wall (ideally not the focus of the room).

Add 3″ to 4″ inches to that measure, then unroll a roll onto your pasting desk and mark it on the again the place it ought to be lower.  Fold the paper over on itself and lower the strip. Maybe utilizing a plumb app in your cellphone, draw a straight vertical line on the wall, with a pencil, to align the roll. However as you paper, maintain the road uncovered to make use of with the following roll.

6. Utilizing a ½”-nap paint curler, apply paste to the wall and to the again of the paper (if that technique applies). To offer the paste an opportunity to activate, gently fold in each ends of the strip, being cautious to not crease the paper, to fulfill within the center—that is known as reserving. (For pre-pasted paper: Loosely roll up a strip, adhesive-side out, and put it in a container of chilly or lukewarm water, per producer directions.)

Beginning on the high of the wall, apply the paper, permitting 2″ of overlap on the crown or ceiling. Easy it with a plastic wallpaper smoother, working from the center of the paper to the sides (however don’t press too laborious, to keep away from creases or squeezing out the paste). Press the paper into the junctions of the wall on the ground and ceiling mouldings and make a line to mark the place the additional can be lower away.

7. Trim the highest and backside extra alongside the indented line, utilizing a trimming knife alongside a 6″ taping knife (or a straightedge) to chop alongside.

trimming wallpaper
On the junction of wall and ceiling, paper is trimmed with a blade run alongside a straightedge. Photograph: Andrew Polov

8. Utilizing a barely damp pure sponge, gently wipe extra paste off every strip after it has been hung, then dry it evenly with a smooth fabric, being cautious to not wash throughout the seams. Any paste that’s allowed to dry on the floor of the paper can be laborious to take away and may change shade and sheen.

9. Grasp subsequent strips, ensuring the sample matches. Unroll every strip dry and mark the place it would should be lower high and backside, remembering to go away a number of inches on the backside for changes. Rigorously align the sides of the 2 strips with out overlapping and gently clean the roll onto the wall, working from the highest and edges down. An excellent effectivity tip: Reduce and book-fold a number of strips at a time, setting them the place they’ll cling in entrance of the wall.

10. Corners might be tough as they’re typically not plumb. For an inside nook, lower the strip so there’s a ½” overhang from the nook to the following wall. Glue and cling the strip so the overhang turns the nook. Trim it right down to 1/8″ utilizing a utility knife and straightedge. Cowl that small overlap with the following strip. Deal with an out of doors nook equally. The overlap ought to be ¼”. When hanging the following strip, cowl the overlap, however place the strip barely in from the nook’s edge to reduce the possibility of injury from folks brushing in opposition to the nook.

wallpapering tools

What You’ll Want


• Paper Tiger (perforates previous paper)
• wallpaper remover gel
• knives and scrapers
• wallpaper steamer (non-obligatory)
• TSP or equal


• TSP or equal (to wash/degloss)
• tape measure/ruler
• pencil
• spackling compound
• primer/sealer or glue measurement
• pasting desk (plywood or a hollow-core door on sawhorses, or test  premade variations at amazon.com)
• scissors or sharp slicing software
• wallpaper paste
• ½” nap paint curler
• 6-inch taping knife
• straightedge
• wallpaper trimming knife (scissors could also be used at troublesome corners)
• plastic smoother or wallpaper
• smoothing brush
• clear non-linting cloths 
• pure sponges

installing wallpaper
A plastic wallpaper smoother is used to stick pasted paper to the wall, floating the moist paste beneath. Photograph: Andrew Polov

Three Widespread Errors 

Errors occur however are sometimes manageable. Attempt to begin papering as distant as potential from the doorway to the room, so seams and early mishaps are much less apparent.

  1. Don’t fear should you lower a strip too brief. Connect the lower strip as standard. Then add a splice, matching the sample however overlapping an honest quantity. Use an X-acto to chop away by each layers (maybe following the sample to keep away from a straight line), then peel away the overlap, leaving a butted seam. Easy. 
  2. Instantly peel again a strip should you see bubbles below the paper, reapplying and gently smoothing it down with a wallpaper brush or a plastic smoother, working in direction of the sting.
  3. When paper is curling up at a seam, gently carry it and apply just a little extra paste beneath, then clean with a smooth fabric and wipe away any extra glue. 
removing old wallpaper
Wagner’s new ‘725 Wallpaper Steamer’ removes paper with out chemical substances; it comes with two sizes of steam plates.

Eradicating Outdated Wallpaper

It’s not rocket science, however typically it’s very messy and tedious. You want the appropriate instruments, which can range relying on the paper, the adhesive, and the substrate. Experiment with a number of strategies: scoring, steaming, sponging with scorching water, utilizing scrapers, utilizing proprietary strippers. A sequence for starters: Slowly pull paper off at unfastened seams. Scrape as a lot as you may from the wall, utilizing a taping or putty knife or a window scraper—however watch out to not injury the plaster, as a result of gouges and nicks will imply extra tedious work. Spray remaining paper with scorching water to loosen it, let it soak in, and scrape once more. If scorching water isn’t working, use a Paper Tiger to perforate the paper, permitting water (or steam from a rented steamer) to penetrate. Take away remaining paste with a gel wallpaper stripper. Lastly, wash the partitions with heat water and TSP for a clear and clean floor to guarantee adherence of recent paint or paper.

The 5 Sorts of Wallpaper Paste

For those who use the flawed sort of paste or adhesive to your sort of wallpaper, you could get sample
bleeding or poor adherence. These are 5 frequent sorts of adhesive, however at all times comply with the paper
producer’s advice.

1. chilly water paste 

It comes as a powder to be combined with water earlier than software. This sort takes apply: too runny and the paper gained’t stick, too thick and lumps occur. Appropriate for many papers, it takes the longest to dry, permitting extra time for corrections.  

2.  All-purpose paste 

Out there both as a powder or ready-mixed, this kind accommodates a fungicide, which helps keep away from mould in loos or kitchens. 

3.  Heavy-duty / additional power paste 

Often vinyl-based, this kind works finest with heavier, high-end papers, because it dries shortly earlier than the paper can loosen. It may be tougher to take away, nevertheless.

4. Paste-the-wall adhesive 

Some papers specify making use of paste to the wall solely. You’ll want to learn the directions to your paper beforehand.

5. Prepared-to-use paste 

Premixed pastes are simpler to make use of however dearer. If the realm to be papered isn’t very giant, this could be a good selection. 

The place to Get Specialty Paper

Many papers discovered within the giant collections offered by home-improvement shops are simple to to make use of—however most are mass-market relatively than historic. Specialty papers run from murals to block-printed to hand-silkscreened—and even digitally printed, to permit rescaling. Seasoned wallpaper hangers Jim Francis and John Nalewaja of Scenic Wallpaper (scenicwallpaper.com) specialize within the set up of customized, hand-printed and hand-blocked papers. As a result of these are sometimes untrimmed (the border could also be on the identical strip with the dado, say), could have uncommon inks or finishes, and since they’re costly, it’s finest to rent a professional. The next corporations make lovely papers with particular software directions.

> Adelphi Paper Hangings adelphipaperhangings.com
Reproductions from authentic paperwork, block-printed by hand as they had been within the 18th–nineteenth centuries.

> Bradbury & Bradbury  bradbury.com
Well-known for his or her hand-silkscreened Victorian and Arts & Crafts artwork wallpapers, the corporate additionally affords rigorously chosen classic designs from the Twenties by 1970, together with machine-printed papers.

> DeGournay  degournay.com 
Painted papers in a variety of types conventional to trendy. 

> Fromental  fromental.co.uk 
Beautiful hand-painted and hand-embroidered papers. 

> Gracie  graciestudio.com
Elegant hand-painted Chinoiserie and scenic papers.

> Morris & Co.  morrisandco.sandersondesigngroup.com
Unique patterns in each doc and trendy colorways, block- and machine-printed, from the premier designer of the British Aesthetic and Arts & Crafts durations. Sanderson has different historic collections as effectively.

> Trustworth Studios  trustworth.com
Digitally printed and customized papers of all durations, with a specialty within the patterns of British Arts & Crafts
designer C.F.A. Voysey.

> Zuber  zuber.fr 
Hand-blocked, historic panoramic and scenic papers, friezes, and many others. since 1797.

Further Assets:

Wagner wagnerspraytech.com
New ‘725 Wallpaper Steamer’ for elimination with out chemical substances, incl. two steam plate sizes 

Plaster Magic plastermagic.com
Adhesive and restore merchandise for cracked plaster

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