Many of us have a romantic vision of wallpaper, and a less romantic one of stripping wallpaper. But what’s the real deal—what does it take to install it in our homes? Here are the basics about wallpaper:
You do need to prepare your walls
You’ve got to strip any existing paper off the walls. It doesn’t have to be complicated—just some hot water and fabric softener should do the trick. Then you’ll need to clean the walls and let them dry, or your paper won’t stick properly. Ammonia and water make an effective cleaner. Remove or sand down any uneven spots. If your drywall is new, you MUST seal it with a sealer or primer first, or any attempt to remove the wallpaper will ruin the drywall underneath. You should also apply sizing, a sealer-like compound that helps the paper dry evenly.
You can put paper over paneling
Although, if you’re lucky enough to have paneling, why would you want to cover it? If you’re just that crazy, know that papering over wood paneling takes extra work: you have to fill all those cracks with joint putty, sand the putty, and then apply wallpaper liner.
You don’t have to calculate the amount of wallpaper yourself
You just have to measure the room’s dimensions and insert it into an online wallpaper calculator.
There are different kinds of wallpaper
Prepasted wallpaper has the adhesive already applied, although you will have to soak it in water. Unpasted wallpaper requires paste to be brushed on. Some adhesives can be applied to the outside of the wallpaper, rather than between it and the wall. “Wallpaper” is a catchall term often used to include non-paper based wall coverings. “Directional wallpaper” or borders require that you hang them right-side up! Oh, yes—some wallpaper comes with, or at least looks better with, a border.
Applying wallpaper requires a soft touch
You need to line up seams correctly, not pull too hard, and remove all air bubbles. Do your research, and avoid making mistakes! The payoff is, of course, a swanky new room.