Home Repair Tips – Wall Coverings

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Redecorating    by: ITC

Not too long ago, the only wall covering available was wallpaper. Today wall coverings are made of many materials other than paper. Fabric and vinyl are good examples. Some types are prepasted or have adhesive on the back. No matter which type you use, the basic procedures are the same. You will have to:


Prepare the wall surface

Prepare and hang wall covering

To find out how much wall area must be covered, measure each wall and multiply its width by its height. Adding the answers will give you the total area of the wall surface. Next measure the doors and windows. Find their total area by multiplying each one’s height by width and adding them together. Now subtract the total area of the openings from the total area of the wall surface. The answer is the wall area to be covered. Since one roll of wallcovering contains about 30 square feet, divide this number by 30. The answer is the number of rolls you will need.

Many do-it-yourself wallpapering kits contain all the tools you will need.

Before you begin, the wall surface should be clean and free from loose plaster and paper. Surfaces painted with enamel should be sanded to remove the gloss and assure good adhesion. Remove any old wallpaper. Use a steamer or wallpaper remover to lift the paper, and then strip it off.
New walls must be primed before covering.

The most difficult job is hanging the wall covering just right. Begin by attaching a plumb bob to the end of a chalk line. Measure the width of one roll (usually 231/2 inches) from the starting point and hang the plumb bob. Snap the chalk line on the wall. This line will serve as a guide for hanging the first piece.

Cover your table or work surface with several layers of newspaper and unroll the first strip of wall covering. Cut the first piece, allowing two inches of overlap at the ceiling and two inches at the floor. Unroll the next piece and place it alongside the first to match the pattern. Cut enough strips to cover one wall and number them on the back.

Spread paste on the back of the first strip. Be sure to leave no dry spots and pay special attention to the edges. Loosely fold up the bottom half, printed side out, for ease in carrying. Position the strip at the ceiling and smooth it with a brush, working from the center out to the edges. Unfold the bottom section and continue smoothing down.

If the old wallpaper is loose, if you are going to hang vinyl wall covering, or if there are several layers of wallpaper on your wall already, it is best to remove all the old paper before you hang the new paper. This can be done most easily by renting a steamer.

Be sure to work out all of the air bubbles. After about 15 minutes the top and bottom overlap can be trimmed with a sharp blade. To prevent getting paste on the next strip, remove the top layer of newspaper from the table before you apply paste to the next strip.

Other types of wall coverings may need to be soaked in water or the paste may have to be applied directly to the wall. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions or ask the person who sells the wall covering.

Two types of seams can be used to join wall coverings. The overlap joint is one in which the sheets actually overlap each other. When using overlapped joints, begin alongside a window and work away from it. This will make the joints less conspicuous. Butt joints are preferred by professionals.

The edge of each strip runs along the edge of the previous strip without overlapping. When using butt joints, begin hanging paper on the longest wall space without windows or doors and work around the room. For either type of seam, wait about 15 minutes for the paste to set and then press down with a seam roller. Carefully trim around electrical boxes.

Much valuable information is often printed in the margins of the wall covering, including trim marks, marks to help you match the pattern, mill run number and manufacturer. Be sure to buy enough wall covering at the start because you may have difficulty matching colors or patterns later.

Apply paste to the bottom two- thirds of the sheet and fold up carefully. Do not crease. Finish applying the paste and carry the folded sheet to the wall.

Brush wallpaper from the center out to the edges. Smooth out all air bubbles.

Trim overlap with a straight, even line. Wall covering joints are either overlapped or butt joints. Professionals prefer butt joints.

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