If you're bored with painted walls, consider giving wallpaper a try. It's suitable for any room of the home. And today's cool, contemporary designs are not your grandmother's wallpaper.
Even wallpaper application has gotten a modern update. Most wallpapers now come pre-pasted
for easier hanging. Some are even adhesive for stick 'em on, peel 'em off simplicity.
Flimsy paper falling apart in your hands is a thing of the past, too. Most consumers now end up purchasing paper-backed vinyl products
rather than 100% paper
. The advantage is durability: vinyl is easier to apply, easier to keep clean and easier to remove than paper.
The easiest room for newbies to experiment with wallpaper application? It's your bedroom, hands down. You'll get the hang of wallpaper hanging without having to maneuver around tight corners, pesky exposed plumbing or other annoying obstacles. Other popular rooms for wallpaper application are the bathroom and kitchen.
Wallpaper projects vary by room, room size, and the condition of your walls. The following project demonstrates how to hang pre-pasted paper-backed vinyl wallpaper in a room that does not contain existing paper (so we won't
be looking at the ins and outs of stripping old wallpaper
). Let's assume the walls are in reasonably good condition, with perhaps some old nail holes to patch up. (Click here to learn how to repair damaged walls.)
Intermediate. You may not need experience using power tools, but hanging wallpaper does require plenty of patience and an eye for detail. Uneven lines and seams can stick out like a sore thumb when the project is complete.
Wallpapering a room is a lot more expensive than painting. Most papers cost about $30 per roll, but you can find some brands for as little $14 or as high as $100 or more per roll. Papering a fairly typical 12-square-foot bedroom with 8-foot ceilings would require about 12 roll. At $30 per roll, this works out to around $400. (Brewster's wallpaper estimate chart
and wallpaper calculator
are a couple free online tools you might find useful.)
Calculate with caution, though: there are both standard rolls and
double size rolls, and lengths per roll vary from brand to brand and from one design to another. Make sure you know exactly how much paper you're getting per roll before settling on a brand or a specific design.
You must also factor in the cost of papering supplies. See below for a complete list of everything you'll need to do the job. Chances are you already own many items on the list, but you should probably allow about $50-$100 for additional purchases.
Wallpaper newbie? Consider avoiding highly structured patterns like stripes or geometrics which are far more difficult to hang perfectly aligned. This goes double if your room is unusually-shaped or if you have an old home with uneven surfaces.
Also, definitely take home samples before committing to a design, just as you would with paint. However, bear in mind that wallpaper often has to be special-ordered, which might take a couple of weeks or more.
Day 1: Four hours of surface preparation. Allow more time if you need to strip old wallpaper first.
Day 2: About eight hours for hanging the wallpaper. That's about twelve hours total for a 12-foot-square room.
TOOLS & SUPPLIES
In addition to your chosen rolls of wallpaper, you will need the following:
Prime your walls carefully for easy-on, easy-off wallpapering. Photo: Zinnser
For Surface Prep:
Plastic or canvas dropcloths
Tube of spackling paste
Wallpaper seam roller
Fine grit sandpaper
One-gallon bucket of primer
Stirring stick, paint brush
Standard nap (3/8-inch) roller cover
Plenty of water for cleanup.
Choosing primer: One gallon of primer will be adequate for this project, but for very small or large areas you should calculate your exact needs before starting out. Also, consider using a specialty pre-wallcovering primer, like Zinsser's Shieldz
, for easier application and stripping.
Ladder or step stool, depending on height of walls; Large pair of sharp scissors (industrial shears or quality sewing scissors
OR a tub of paste activator
Very sharp utility knife
with lots of extra blades
Your workstation can be any large surface that allows you to measure and cut lengths of wallpaper at a comfortable height. A large table is fine if you don't mind it suffering some surface damage. You can also improvise, balancing a sheet of plywood on a couple of sawhorses.
Wallpapering Obstacles: Corners, Windows, Doors, and Outlets
If you're bored with painted walls, consider giving wallpaper a try. Modern wallpapers are eye-catching, and much easier to hang.
This long-handled brush is ideal for applying wallpaper adhesive. The flat, wide-handled brush is designed for smoothing down paper while it's being hung.
A wallpaper seam roller (left) and a wallpaper smoother are specialized tools for helping to seal down loose seams and eliminate air bubbles.
Make sure to wash the walls, turn off the room's power supply, remove switch plates and inspect the entire wall area for holes or other surface imperfections. Fill these imperfections with spackling paste and smooth with the putty knife. Allow to dry (refer to product for drying time) then sand gently for a seamless finish.
Measure the width of the wallpaper rolls. Use a ruler as your guide to draw the most precise lines.
Tip: Use a feather light touch when using a pencil to mark plumb lines. Dark or heavy guide lines could show through the paper when you're done.
Identify the least noticeable corner of the room, and make that your starting spot. This is usually the corner closest to the entry door or the wall directly over the entry door. Why? Simple: you'll work your way systematically around the room, hanging one strip after another. When you apply the final piece it will butt up against your starting piece, and odds are you may not be able to match the pattern together at this point. At least this way, the mismatch will be less noticeable.
Now it's time to cut your first strip of wallpaper. Use the measuring tape to double-check the height of the wall, then measure and cut your first length, adding 2 inches at both top and bottom for alignment and trimming.
Now it's time to activate the paste. Gently roll the length of wallpaper up, pattern facing inwards, and then soak the whole thing in a tray of room-temperature water.
Alternatively, you may choose to apply a wallpaper paste activator like Zinsser's SureGrip to the reverse (non-patterned) side. This eliminates the need to wrestle strips of paper in and out of a messy water tray. Again, it's your choice.
Before being applied to the wall, wet (or "activated") wallpaper must relax for the length of time specified by the manufacturer, usually around three to five minutes. This allows the paper to absorb water and expand slightly to its true size.
While the wallpaper is relaxing, booking helps prevent the paste from drying out. Lay the strip of paper pattern-side-down on your workstation. Draw both the top and bottom ends up so that they meet in the middle (image you're wrapping a Christmas present) and gently press the very ends together at their meeting point.
Be very careful not to crease the paper anywhere during the booking and relaxing stage. You also might want to play it safe and use a timer for each relaxing stage so that you don't forget about a sheet and inadvertently allow it to dry out.
Tip: Before booking, check that each and every wallpaper sheet is evenly coated with either water or activating paste. Dry spots will show up as unsightly bubbles on your finished wall.
When the paper has been relaxed, gently unroll the top half of the sheet and raise it up into position. You will probably need to stand on the ladder or step stool for this part. Check once, check twice: are you holding the paper right way up? You don't want to hang your pattern upside down!
Align one edge of the wallpaper with the plumb line you've drawn. Take your time, making sure it's a perfect match and that you've allowed an inch or two of overlap at the top. While you're positioning the top half, leave the bottom half furled to prevent it from drying out.
Press and smooth the top section into place, eliminating wrinkles or bubbles as you go with the vinyl wallpaper smoother. Work from the top downwards and from the center outwards. Be careful not to press too hard: you don't want to accidentally scratch or stretch the paper.
Unfurl the bottom half of the wallpaper and repeat the process.
1. Always end one strip and start a new one when you've reached a corner.
This helps conceal seams and allows redrawing of the plumb line to keep everything perfectly straight. Simply guide the existing strip into position into and around the corner, then trim it with just one quarter inch of overlap left behind.
2. Now re-do the plumb line as close to the corner as possible and begin a new sheet.
Use the seam smoothing roller on the area of overlap. First, you may need to apply a little vinyl-to-vinyl adhesive to the underside of the overlapping section. Refer to the wallpaper manufacturer's instructions to find out whether or not this is required.
As the work progresses, you're bound to encounter difficult spots like doorways
and outlet openings
*. Don't attempt to measure and cut these openings in the paper prior to hanging. Instead, apply paper right up to and over obstacles.
1. Align and smooth the paper over the wall and right up to window and door frames.
Carefully cut openings, allowing plenty of overlap, and then trim to size with scissors. Finally, use the putty knife to press the edges into perfect alignment and, finally, use the blade to trim to size.
2. Make sure the power is OFF before working with wet wallpaper near outlets and switches.
Paper right over each one, then use your blade to slit an "x" over it. Peel the paper back very cautiously and snip off some of the excess with scissors. Now press and smooth what's left into place so that it surrounds the outlet or switch and trim with the blade. The edges don't have to be perfectly straight in this case, as the outlet or switch plate will cover any rough edges.
Once you get in a work groove, you should be able to simultaneously prep and apply two or three sheets of paper at a time. However, stick to one sheet at a time for difficult spots such as corners and doorways. You don't want to rush these important spots and end up making a mess. Once again, it's all about taking your time.