Papering Around Corners

Consider yourself lucky if you find a corner in an older house that’s plumb. To negotiate problem corners, you’ll need to master “double-cutting.” As you hang adjacent strips, overlap them by at least 1/2 inch, making sure the pattern matches. With a straightedge as a guide, use a razor-sharp utility knife to cut through both layers of paper. Make the cut while the paste on the paper is still soft. Carefully pull both selvages— the scrap pieces—from the surface, as shown in the box below. With a smoothing brush, smooth the seam created when you removed the selvages. At either an inside or outside corner, be sure you firmly tap the paper against the surface with the brush. After you’ve finished the corner, stick a series of thin straight pins near the edge of the corner—not in it—to “clamp” the paper until the adhesive dries. Arrange the pins in such a way in the pattern that holes won’t show once the pins have been removed.

1. Measure for the corner strip. Measure the distance from the corner to the near edge of the last strip of paper you applied, both top and bottom. Add 1 inch to the measurements.

2. Hang and trim the corner strip. Cut, paste, and hang this strip so it butts the previous strip. Tap it firmly into the corner. Cut slits at the top and bottom corners as shown. Trim the strip at the top and bottom.

3. Overlap the next strip. Snap a new plumb line on the wall, allowing for at least a 1-inch overlap, or more if the pattern necessitates it, on top of the previous strip. Hang the next strip with its edge on the plumb line. Tap the paper into the corner.

4. Wrap an outside corner. On outside corners, wrap the paper approximately 1 inch around the corner. Apply the next strip, overlapping it, and double-cut with a utility knife.

Make a double-cut seam. Double-cut through both thicknesses of wallpaper. Peel off the waste from the outer paper. Slightly lift the edge of that strip, and peel out the waste edge from the inner strip. Smooth both strips, then roll the seam.

Papering Around Openings

One of the more demanding tasks in a wallpapering project is cutting around moldings and openings. Mistakes here will be embarrassingly noticeable. So take the time necessary to achieve straight lines and tight fits. Always work with a knife that has a sharp blade to avoid pulling or tearing the covering. Before making your cuts around casings, be sure that the covering is snug against it. Otherwise, you may find to your dismay that the line you’ve cut falls short of covering the wall. If you don’t feel comfortable making the cuts freehand, slip a metal straightedge into the joint and then make the cut using it as a guide.

Tools: Smoothing brush, utility knife or razor blade, paste brush, straightedge, seam roller.

Repairing Torn Paper - If you do make a mistake and tear the paper, deal with the problem immediately. If you cannot repair the tear to your satisfaction, remove and replace the entire strip of wallpaper. To repair a tear, lift the two sides, apply extra adhesive, and press the sides back in place. Wipe the surface clean of excess adhesive. If you need extra holding power, apply vinyl-to-vinyl adhesive.

Cutting around casings. Let the strip adjoining the opening overlap the casings. Begin to smooth the covering, but don’t come too close to the casing or you may tear the covering. Once the strip is correctly aligned and the paper is partially smoothed, make a cut at the corner of the casing to allow you to smooth the covering all the way up to the casing. Use a taping blade or a straightedge to create a crease at the point where the casing meets the wall. Cut the crease along the side of the casing with a sharp utility knife.

Cutting the top of casings. At the top of the casing, crease the paper and cut it where the molding joins the wall. Then smooth the edge of the wallpaper. If the casing is thick, a minor cutting mistake here might not be noticeable.

At a wall opening. When you encounter a recess or an entryway without a door, first hang the covering on the interior walls of the opening. Allow at least 1 inch of overhang along the sides and the top. Make diagonal slits at the two corners, and wrap the paper around the outside corners. Paper the outside wall, letting the pieces “go wild” for a couple of inches before trimming.

Around cabinetry. Trim along the top of fireplace mantels or bookcases before you do the sides. This allows you to wrap the paper around the sides and make truer cuts.

Improvise for complicated cuts. To fit around tricky corners and moldings, you will need to cut slits so the paper will lie flat. Use plenty of adhesive.

Around an outlet or switch. Shut off the electricity to circuits before you work around switches and outlets. Apply paper right over the outlet or switch, then trim away the overlap. Make sure the opening is small enough that the coverplate will conceal it but large enough that no paper protrudes into the electrical box. If you make a mistake, an oversize coverplate may hide it.

Papering Over a Coverplate

To add a professional touch to your wallpapering job, paper over the switch and receptacle cover plates. Some fanatics paint the switch toggles and receptacles with matching background paint. Before you go that far, however, consider the possibility that anyone with failing eyesight might not be able to find the camouflaged switch or outlet.

Tools: Pin, pencil, masking tape, brush, scissors, and a utility knife.

1. Cut a rectangle. Install the coverplate where it will go. Cut a rectangular section of matching wallpaper, line it up over the coverplate so the pattern matches, and temporarily tape it to the wall.

2. Mark the corners. Gently feel the outline of the coverplate under the paper and prick a tiny hole at each corner of the plate, using a straight pin.

3. Trace the outline. Remove both the paper and the coverplate. Lay the paper facedown on a worktable, and place the coverplate face-up on top. Line up the plate corners with the pin holes and trace the outline on the back side of the paper.

4. Trim the cover. Cut the paper so there is a 1/2-inch border around the outline of the coverplate. Trim the corners at 45-degree angles down to the outline.

5. Glue the cover. Brush vinyl-to-vinyl adhesive primer onto the front of the plate. Allow it to dry, then apply vinyl-to-vinyl adhesive over the primer. Place the plate face-down on the paper and press firmly. Smooth out any bubbles. Line up the corners and fold the edges of the paper around the plate.

6. Secure with tape. Tape the edges of the paper to the back side of the plate with masking tape. Let the adhesive dry before proceeding further.

7. Cut the opening. Using a sharp utility knife, carefully cut out the openings in the plate. If the cut paper edges are loose, apply more adhesive under the paper.

8. Fasten the plate. Punch through the paper with an awl or nail at the locations of the coverplate screw holes. Fasten the plate with the coverplate screws.

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