for Wallpaper-with Wallcovering,
the Proof is in the Prepping!
Surface preparation will make or
break a wallpaper project. If you
fail to follow proper prepping procedures,
it is highly unlikely that you will
be satisfied with the results. But
if you buy the proper tools and
follow the proper procedures, your
wallpaper project will be a thing
Here are some guidelines for prepping
for paperhanging. Your local independent
paint and wallpaper store can provide
you with greater detail as well
as all the products you need to
ensure a successful project.
- Read all the manufacturer's
instructions before beginning
any wallpaper project. Check to
see what the manufacturer recommends
for prepping the surface.
- Choose the appropriate primer/sealer.
A primer/sealer is an oil- or
acrylic-based coating designed
for use under wallcovering to
seal porous surfaces prior to
hanging. Using a primer/sealer
is a necessity on almost every
- Make repairs to the wall surface.
Make sure all holes, cracks and
joints are properly repaired.
For painted walls, remove any
peeling paint with a scraper,
apply patching compound to any
cracks or holes, wash greasy or
dirty areas, apply a primer/sealer
to any newly patched areas, and
sandy any glossy or semi-glossy
surfaces to "dull" them
and ensure proper adhesion.
- Consult the manufacturer for
additional instructions if wallcoverings
are to be hung over a specialty
surface such as wood paneling
or textured walls.
- Paint the ceiling, trim, doors,
etc., before hanging wallpaper.
It is easier to remove wallcovering
adhesive from a painted surface
(just use a wet sponge) than to
remove splattered paint from wallpaper.
Plus, painting first ensures that
no unpainted surfaces show through
where trim or the ceiling and
- Don't get in a hurry. Taking
time with the preparation makes
the installation go smoothly.
Don't cut corners or try to take
- Don't try to skimp on tools
or materials. When prepping for
paperhanging and then hanging
the paper itself, you will need
a variety of tools, including
sandpaper, joint compound, a ladder,
yardstick, cutting tool, scraper,
putty knife, string (plumb line),
level, smoothing brush, bucket
and sponges, just to name a few.
- Sizing is an old industry method
that occasionally applies in limited
circumstances. Check the manufacturer's
recommendations, but in most cases,
new premixed primer/sealers have
almost eliminated the use of sizing
- Some areas, like basements,
bathrooms and closets, develop
mildew, which has to be eliminated
before hanging wallpaper. Scrub
the area using a mixture of equal
parts household bleach and water
until the discoloration disappears.
Rinse with water and allow to
dry before proceeding.
- Some specialty wallpapers like
foils, unbacked and grasscloths
require the use of lining paper.
Lining paper is blank stock which
can be applied to properly prepared
walls, maximizing adhesion, providing
a smoother surface and minimizing
the possibility of mildew and
- Never hang over existing wallpaper—unless
removing the old wallpaper will
damage the wall, and even then,
remove any paper that is not tight
to the wall. Removing old wallpaper
and repairing the wall surface
help ensure a solid foundation
for the new paper. Strippable
wallcoverings should come down
easily without the aid of removal
products. Several methods are
available to aid in removal of
nonstrippable papers, such as
dry scraping, steam, a heat gun
and chemical removers.
- Never cut the first piece of
wallpaper until the surface has
been properly prepared, all the
measurements have been double-checked
and the necessary tools are at
1995 Paint & Decorating Retailer
is published by the
Paint and Decorating Retailers Association
403 Axminister Drive St. Louis,