6 Wall Prep Tips for Stunning Wallpaper

6 Wall Prep Tips for Stunning Wallpaper

Chances are, if your home was built or redecorated in the late 80's, you've got some wallpaper that needs to be removed. I've done my fair share of wallpaper stripping, wall washing, patching and wallpaper hanging. For about 10 minutes I even considered starting my own wallpapering business. Ha! That was short lived, but I did learn a thing or two about prepping walls. May I share?

Whether you plan on painting, or you've found and ordered the most beautiful wallpaper ever designed, you need to get those walls prepped STAT! Remember, your new walls will only look as good as the wall underneath your new paper.

Here are my top 6 prep steps to ensure your walls are ship-shape and ready to paint or re-paper.

  1. Strip paper. Start peeling at a seam, see if it's going to come right off or you're going to have to work at it. Get squirt bottles filled with hot water, place towels at the bottom of the walls and spray the hell out of a section, let it sit and see how that works. Next attempt: The Wallpaper Tiger-can be purchased at a hardware or paint store. It scores the paper but also can perforate drywall a bit. You need that hot steamy water to penetrate the glue so stick with it. You may have to rent a steamer. Messy, cumbersome, but it will most likely dissolve the glue. Scrape every last bit of paper and glue from the walls.
  2. Wash the walls. Detergent or Soilex, hot water and a green scrub pad. Rinse with a big sponge dipped in fresh cold water. Dry walls with a towel. Rub your hand over the walls to feel if there's still glue on the walls. Once all the glue is removed, assess.
  3. * If you couldn't get some sections of paper off, you'll need to get an orbital or belt sander and sand down the edges of the paper. Once all old pieces have been sanded enough that no edges are visible or apparent to the touch, prime over the old surface.
  4. Patchwork. Undoubtedly, you'll have some gouges and holes that need to be patched. I prefer the lightweight spackling. It's easy to apply and super easy to sand when dry. If you have bigger holes, you'll need one of those drywall patch kits. Once everything is patched and dry, use a sandpaper sponge or attachment that screws on the end of a pole. This gives you a smooth, level surface. Wipe off and clean up all dust.
  5. Prime walls for new wallpaper. It seals the pores and also levels out to make a nice smooth surface. Let walls dry thoroughly.
  6. Begin at the corner of room, snap a plum line for vertical alignment of the first piece. Also, measure the width of your paper and then measure all around the room to see how many pieces you'll be hanging and  which pieces will have to have custom cuts for light sockets and other cut ins.

Since the tear off and prep was so grueling, take a break before papering. You'll want to be fresh for this part of the job. 

Here's a paper designed by blogger Joy D.Cho of Oh Joy. Kid, this ain't your mom's wallpaper!


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DesigningMom on Jan 11, 2011:

Thought I love the look of wallpaper I absolutely hate the prep and the work it involves. Ou last home was a split entry and I so desparately wanted wallpaper in it's living room. Once started the questions arrised "where to stop". With two young children at the time we felt moving into the main entry and stairway was a good idea since the wall paper was solid vinyl and scrubbable. Okay, again, "where to stop". So we moved down one side and back in the hall finally having a place to stop. Lived with it for almost fifteen years even though when I first sat down at it's completion to look at it all and hated it. LOL. Once I got past that I never tired of it. Which was great because I wouldn't have wanted the task of removing it.

I would love to have taht camera though.

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