Wallpaper Preparation: 8 Things to Consider

August 6, 2015

Making sure that wallpaper that you put up yourself looks good is no easy feat. But, follow these eight tips and you're likely to find that your wallpapering jobs are easier and leave you with better results.

1. To ensure that when you wallpaper, the paper stays put for a long time, be sure to prepare your surface well. This means that you'll want to spend some time stripping the surface before you start hanging anything.

2. If there's only one layer of tightly adhering untextured wallpaper on the wall that you want to paper, then you can just paper right over top of it. However, if your target wall has more than two layers, you'll have to strip them off. This stripping is necessary because the combined weight of three papers will be too much for the adhesive to hold.

3. Run your fingertips over old wallpaper to test how tightly it's sticking to the wall. If you hear a crackling noise, then the paper is loose and should be taken off. Pry up the edges and corners of old wallpaper to further test its adhesiveness; if big pieces of the paper lift away from the wall, then all of it needs to go.

4. If your old wallpaper passes the crackle and corner tests, then stick down any loose spots with PVA adhesive or wallpaper paste. Then wash the wallpaper with either dishwashing detergent or a mild solution of household bleach and water. After the washing, apply a wallpaper primer and then prepare to put up your new paper. But, you can skip testing and cleaning up old wallpaper if it's vinyl, foil or plastic-coated. Wallpapering over these sorts of paper usually doesn't work and you should just remove them.

5. Paint the ceiling and the trim after you've taken down the old paper but before you've put up the new. You can easily remove wallpaper paste from woodwork and painted surfaces, but trying to take drips and splashes of paint off of new wallpaper is incredibly difficult. If you paint first, your new wallpaper will also cover drips or splashes that wind up on the walls.

6. Put up a lining paper before you hang fabric on a wall. Hanging fabrics need especially smooth walls to look good, and a lining paper is the quickest (and usually easiest) way to smooth down a wall.

7. You can also use lining paper to hide surface defects. So, if paint is peeling off of your target wall, sand off the loosest flakes, then cover it all up with lining paper. Or, if your wall is painted with hazardous lead-based paint that is dangerous to disturb, you can cover it with lining paper before putting up wallpaper. Likewise, wallpapering a rough surface like a brick wall becomes much easier when you cover it with lining paper first. Basically, once you have lining paper in place, you can paint or paper as you prefer.

8. Press your lining paper lightly with your finger to test whether or not it's dry and ready to be covered. If the paper doesn't indent, you can go ahead and paint or paper over top of it. But, if it does indent, aim a fan at the target wall to speed up the drying process. Though even if you're using the fan trick, the paper may still take a few hours to dry.

Now that you know these eight wallpapering tips, your wallpapering projects are more likely to go smoothly. And, you're more likely to end up with wallpaper that looks fantastic.

Wallpaper Preparation: 8 Things to Consider
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