Paperhanging: Preparing to do a Good Job

Preparing a Good Job

wallpaper can be a costly decorative material and to achieve a finished result of which you are justifiably proud, careful attention should be paid to the preparation of the wall surfaces. This is necessary to ensure a good base for the decorative paper. Estimating the amount of paper needed, choice of paper and the techniques of preparatory lining are important aspects of this highly popular handyman job.

When choosing wallpaper it is important to choose a paper of good quality; cheap papers are expensive in the long run as they tend to tear easily, fade and stretch. If the wall surface shows irregularities a thicker paper will cover blemishes and conceal minor defects.

The job of paper-hanging falls into three sections:

• Preparation of surfaces;

• Lining the wall;

• Final paper-hanging and finishing off.

The right tools for the job make progress smooth and the task much easier.

Preparation Equipment Needed

Two step ladders or a trestle; two scaffold boards at least l.83m long and 230mm wide; some dust sheets, old newspaper or polythene sheeting; an old distemper brush; bucket and sponge or a coarse cloth; stripping knife; filling knife; scraper; waterproof abrasive paper, glass-paper or a hand sander.

As walls are rarely true, it is also useful to have a spirit level to check the verticals.

An ‘extra’ that saves time and effort is an apron, with large pockets to carry the small tools.

It will save time and muddle if the floor area is covered before work starts. Use old newspaper when stripping wallpaper, then, as the work progresses, the stripped paper can be rolled up in the newspaper and disposed of.

Polythene dust sheets are useful as the job of stripping paper is inclined to be wet and messy.

All clear

Working is easier if the space is clear. If all the furniture cannot be removed, stack it in the centre of the room and cover with a dust sheet. Roll up the carpets or cover fitted carpets with polythene dust sheets.

The room should be warm, clean and as dust-free as possible. Choose the best working light available.

Surface preparation

Good surface preparation is essential to achieve a perfect, finished job. Newly plastered wall surfaces should not be papered. The surface should be allowed to dry out for at least six months. If a décorative finish is required sooner than this, a porous paint finish, such as an emulsion, should be applied.

A prematurely papered wall will be unsatisfactory. The moisture in the plaster weakens the adhesive properties of the adhesive used and alkali salts, present in plaster, may stain the surface of the paper.

Walls that have been decorated with emulsion or washable distemper, once the drying-out process has stopped, can be papered over. This is not possible over non-washable distemper, which should be removed before papering.

Sound surfaces

A surface should be sound. If any areas are crumbly or flaking, scrape them clean and then wash down. Finish by rubbing over with glass-paper.

Oil-based paint surfaces, which are non-porous, can be papered but the area must be rubbed first with a wet, waterproof abrasive paper. Rub down bare plaster with a coarse, damp cloth to remove any surface deposits and then coat with a weak solution of size glue if the paste to be used is water-based.

A cellulose paste requires a thinned coat of cellulose used as a size. Size is used to seal the surface and provide a smooth area on which to slide the paper.

When preparing a surface that has been previously painted with an oil-based paint, add about a handful of whiting to a basinful of size.


If an old plaster surface is cracked, the cracks must be filled before the surface is papered. Cut back the unstable plaster to a v-shape, using a scraper. Damp the area and fill with a hon-shrink cellulose filler. This must be allowed to dry and then rubbed down lightly with glass-paper.

Where large areas of the plaster are unstable-if these sound hollow, when tapped, plaster has ‘blown’ and has no adhesion to the wall behind-the entire area must be hacked back and replastered. Wallpaper will not retain unstable plaster.

10. November 2011 by admin
Categories: Featured, Handyman Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Paperhanging: Preparing to do a Good Job


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