Getting the Hang of Wallpapering
Wallpaper hanging is not nearly as difficult as some well-intentioned home-improvers frequently tend to make it. As a matter of fact, with proper surface preparation (see last weeks column), the proper tools and a little patience even the least enthusiastic paper hanger may end up pleasingly surprised with the end result.
Tools to Properly Hang Wallpaper
Having the proper paper hanging tools is essential to making the endeavor a success. Many home improvement centers or paint and wallpaper specialty stores carry inexpensive paper hanging kits which contain a majority of the tools required. Most kits sell for under $15.00 and contain a pasting brush, a smoothing brush, a razor knife, razor blades, a seam roller, and a plumb bob.
Other tools and equipment required to make the job go smoothly are as follows:
- large pair of scissors
- tape measuring tape
- water trough
- five gallon bucket
- spring clamp
- twelve to sixteen inch straightedge
- step ladder
- pasting table.
We will refer to each of these throughout this column to further clarify how each is involved in the process.
Wallpaper setup and preparation
Start by setting up your work area. If you will be working in a room where the flooring is in place you’ll want to be sure cover it with a canvas drop cloth. Next set up your pasting table. An old door placed on a couple of saw horses is all that’s required here. Professional paper hangers prefer lightweight portable tables. These can be costly and will only pay for themselves if used often.
It goes without saying that the wallpaper should be hung straight. Therefore, a plumb line establishing true vertical should be made on the wall as a guide for the first coarse of paper. This can be done with a plumb bob or with a level and a pencil. The line should be as light as possible since dark lines may show through some papers.
Paper can be purchased pre-pasted or without paste. We suggest that paste be used even if the paper is pre-pasted to ensure the best bond. In as much as paste is concerned our preference is for a mildew resistant vinyl paste. It is stronger than most other pastes and especially useful in damp areas like kitchens, bath, and laundry rooms.
Each length of paper should be cut about four inches longer than the distance from the ceiling to the top of baseboard. Once cut, prepasted paper should be rolled pattern side in and run through the water trough filled with warm water. The paper should then be laid on the pasting table with the pattern facing down. A spring clamp at one end will help to keep the paper from rolling up and make the pasting process a more neat and easy operation. Additional paste should then be applied with the pasting brush or a paint roller with a heavy nap roller cover. It is not necessary to run unpasted paper through the water trough, although all other steps apply.
After the paper has been pasted it should be folded over (pasted face to pasted face) so that the ends of the paper meet in the middle. This process called “booking” allows the paste to be evenly spread and the paper to expand to its fullest prior to hanging. The booked paper should be allowed to sit for about ten minutes.
Hanging the Paper
Now comes the fun part. The chance to hang your first piece of paper. Here’s where the step ladder comes in since paper is hung from the top down. Simply unfold the top section of the booked paper and place it against the wall with the palms of both hands while allowing about two inches of excess at the top.
You’ll find that the paper can be easily manipulated along the wall as you align it with the plumb line previously made. Once the top section has been aligned with the plumb line it should be smoothed with a damp sponge or the smoothing brush working from the center to the edges. Repeat this process for the bottom half of the paper.
The second and each successive strip of paper should be prepared and hung like the first and should be butt up against the previously installed strip to form a neat and uniform seam. Special care should be taken to ensure that patterns match up at seams where patterned paper is concerned. Use a seam roller to set the seams after each strip of paper has been smoothed and all air bubbles have been removed.
Using a razor knife and metal straightedge, trim the paper at the ceiling and at the baseboard. Hold the razor knife firmly and the straightedge in the other and carefully pull it along the straightedge. Once you have reached the end of the straightedge move it to the next section to be cut and carefully continue the process. You will find that changing blades frequently will make the job of trimming much easier.
Final Step, the Wipedown
Finally, after all of the paper has been hung it should be wiped down with a damp sponge and warm water, ringing the sponge out frequently.