Wallpaper: Installing Borders - On the House

Wallpaper: Installing Borders

By on October 28, 2015

Here’s a home improvement that is truly fun and easy to do – and chances are – everyone that sees your work will offer rave reviews.

If you’ve ever wallpapered then you know that it can sometimes become a pasty mess of torn paper and crooked edges. But, with wallpaper borders the task is easy and the finished product always looks good. This is because border material is narrower than regular wallpaper and is therefore easier to handle. And best of all – you don’t have to worry about matching patterns, joining seams and trimming edges.

Wallpaper borders can really brighten a child’s room. For example: you can choose from multi-colored balloons, the alphabet, numbers, animals, etc. Borders can accent an existing color or provide contrast. Once we painted an infant’s room hospital white and added a ceiling border of zoo animals. Later, when the child was a toddler his new room was painted hospital white with a chair-rail border that had red, blue, green and yellow balloons.

To begin, simply measure the perimeter of the room and purchase a sufficient length of your favorite border to do the job. A room that is 11-feet wide and 12-feet long would require a minimum of 46-feet of material – two times the width plus two times the length – [(11×2)+(12×2)=46]. Figure an extra 2- or 3-feet for waste, or 49-feet.

A ceiling or chair rail border can be completely installed into an average size room in less than two hours. Besides the wallpaper border you will need a wallpapering kit (that includes a paste brush, a smoothing brush, a seam roller, a water tank and a single edge razor blade), a container of wallpaper paste and a bucket of fresh warm water and a sponge. Also, a step stool or ladder will be needed to install a ceiling border. Substitute a pencil and a level for a ladder if a chair rail level installation is planned. By the way, chair level borders are installed at approximately 36-inches above the floor. However, the exact height will depend entirely on you. If you intend on painting the wall below the chair rail a different color than the wall above, do so before installing the border. Make sure that the two colors join at either the bottom or top edge of the border. With some papers a color change may show through.

No reference line is needed when installing a border at ceiling level, but a lightly penciled reference line should be drawn for a chair rail border or a ceiling border that will be installed lower than ceiling level. To create the line, begin by marking a point at the selected height. Next, place the level on the point and mark a level line. Move the level to the end of the first line, re-level and continue the line. Repeat this process around the room until you return to where you began. It is interesting to note that installing a wallpaper border just below ceiling level will cause the ceiling
to appear lower.

With the line created it is time to apply the adhesive to the wallpaper border. As with every wallpaper project, we suggest applying an adhesive even if the paper is pre-pasted. Call us old fashioned, but experience dictates here. With wallpaper, the glue that holds is that which is applied on the job. Vinyl adhesive works best when applying a border directly to the wall and vinyl to vinyl adhesive works best when applying a border to wallpaper. In either case a smoothing brush and a 2-inch wooden edge roller (from the wallpaper kit) will be needed to insure a really good bond. Place and smooth the border using the smoothing brush to create the initial bond. Then, use the 2-inch wooden roller to create the final bond. Before moving to the next location use the sponge and fresh water to clean off excess adhesive – before it dries.

There is a trick to getting a perfect border every time – even when the walls in the room are completely out of plumb. Here is how. First, always remember to end each run at a corner. And, make sure to overlap about 2-inches. If you prefer double cutting do so about a half-inch away from an inside corner and about an inch away from an outside corner. Ending at a corner and starting with a new piece eliminates the chance of buckling in the corner while allowing the border to be easily aligned with the ceiling, a molding or a pencil line. Another trick. Many border patterns have a solid background. This often eliminates the need to do a pattern match at joints. Solid background papers are a bit easier to install.

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