Hanging Pre-pasted Wall Coverings

Pre-pasted wall coverings are the no-fuss, little-muss way to a beautifully papered room. There are some secrets to success, however, including wall preparation, adhesive soaking time, and careful attention to smoothing and trimming. Soaking time is critical. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions to the letter so that the tackiness of the adhesive will be just right. Occasionally, depending on the porosity of the wall surface, there won’t be enough adhesive on the covering to hold it to the wall. If this occurs, mix a small amount of the proper adhesive for the paper (or use premixed adhesive) and apply it to the edges and ends of the strips after the strips have been cut to length and soaked. Or apply the adhesive directly to the wall.

Tools: Water trough plus other wallpapering tools listed earlier.

Roll the paper. Cut the strips to length. Loosely reroll the paper with the pattern side in. This will permit the water to activate the paste.

Soak the paper. Fill the trough with enough water to cover the roll. Submerge the paper in the water, weighting it with a rod.

Unroll and apply. After soaking, remove the paper by letting it unroll gradually as you make your way up the ladder. Smooth, roll, and trim the paper.

Papering Ceilings

Ever wonder why more ceilings aren’t wallpapered? The law of gravity makes it difficult. It’s physically taxing to maneuver wallpaper strips up onto a ceiling that’s 8 feet (or more) high. However, if you’re determined to paper a ceiling, it can be done. If you plan to paper both the ceiling and walls, paper the ceiling first. Consider applying a border at the top of the wall so you don’t have to match the pattern where the ceiling meets the wall.

Prepare the ceiling as you would the walls. Patch all cracks and cover any stains with a primer. Drop the canopies on light fixtures and, after shutting off the power supply, disconnect the fixtures to get them out of the way. To get up to a comfortable working level, use two stepladders or two sawhorses and a length of 2x12 or a scaffolding plank. The scaffolding must span the width of the ceiling so that you can apply the wall covering without constantly moving the ladders and the scaffolding. A helper will come in handy—the long lengths of wall covering are just too awkward for one person. To start, snap a chalk line across the narrow width of the ceiling, allowing for a slight overlap onto the wall. If the paper is especially heavy, as some vinyls are, pin it in place until the adhesive dries.

Tools: Chalk line, smoothing brush, utility knife, paste brush and pasting table (unless you’re using prepasted paper), roller with an extension handle, and a seam roller.

1. Handle with extra care. Cut the first sheet several inches longer than the width of the ceiling. Apply paste, and “book” the paper accordion-style. Don’t crease the paper or touch the pattern side to the paste when you fold it.

2. Apply the first strip. Align the first strip with the chalk line and pat the paper in place with your hand. Overlap the paper onto the adjacent walls. After you’ve stuck up a portion of the first strip by patting it, brush it smooth. Cut succeeding pieces so that the pattern will match.

3. Trim the edges. At each corner, cut out a V-notch to permit the trim edges to lie flat against the walls. Add paste, if needed. If you will not be papering the walls, trim the edges using a straightedge.

4. Smooth, then roll seams. After applying each strip, flatten with a smoothing brush, working from the center. Roll the seams using a seam roller.

Hanging Vinyl Wall Covering

Vinyl wall covering is heavier than most standard coverings. You can buy it in wide widths, which reduces the number of seams to fit and roll. Also, the material usually is easy to strip from a wall or ceiling surface. The heavy vinyls have another important advantage. The strips hide defects in a drywall or plaster wall that is in poor condition.

You can use regular wallpaper adhesive to apply lightweight vinyl papers, but special vinyl adhesive is best. Because vinyl won’t stick to itself without special adhesive, all seams that are not butted should be double-cut. If you apply untrimmed vinyl with butted seams, be sure the adhesive is soft on both the strips. Lap the seams about 1 inch. Make a freehand cut through both layers of paper, pull loose the selvages, and smooth the seam. If lapping is necessary, be sure to use vinyl-to-vinyl adhesive at the joint. Apply the adhesive just as you would regular wallpaper paste.

Tools: Paint roller, utility knife, wood straightedge, seam roller, vinyl wallpaper paste, vinyl-to-vinyl adhesive, razor blade.

1. Apply adhesive. Cut the first strip several inches longer than the height of the wall. Cut the subsequent strips so they match the pattern. Spread the vinyl adhesive that the manufacturer has recommended, using a mohair paint roller. Fold and book the strip as you would a standard covering. With pure vinyl wall covering, there is no need to wait for the adhesive to soak in.

2. Smooth the strips. Smoothing vinyl is more demanding work than smoothing other types of coverings. Use a wood straightedge (shown). Don’t use a steel straightedge unless its edges have been rounded.

3. Eliminate any bubbles. After 20 minutes, hold a bright light against the wall to check for bubbles. Puncture each bubble with a razor, and roll the covering flat using a seam roller or a wood straightedge. If you spot a bubble after the adhesive has dried, use a syringe to squirt adhesive into the space behind the bubble.

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