The last time I wallpapered my bedroom, I didn’t prep correctly and when the paper came down, so did the paint in chunks. So now that new wallpaper is going up, I wanted to make sure to do it correctly this time! Here’s how to prep for wallpaper!
Besides avoiding peeling paint this time around, I’ve learned that prep will make wallpapering go easier. It’ll also make it so that the wallpaper lasts longer and looks beautiful as time goes on.
how to prep for wallpaper
step 1- smooth the wall
Start by removing any switch plates or outlet plates. Then, if there’s electrical on the wall, turn off the electricity to the room and disconnect the electrical.
Next make sure the wall is smooth. Here’s what needs to be addressed before wallpapering- loose paint (here’s how to fix peeling paint), holes (make sure to fill them with wood filler and sand until smooth), bumps, paint drips, and heavy textures (use a painter’s tool to knock off any of these).
See also- Can I wallpaper over textured walls?
step 2- clean the wall
Next, make sure the wall is nice and clean. Mix 3 parts water with 1 part distilled vinegar. Then, wipe down the walls with the solution to remove grease, mildew, dust, and stains.
Marks like pen or crayon and grease on the wall can bleed through the wallpaper over time. Wouldn’t that be so disappointing to see a stain slowly come through?!
On the other hand, dust can make the wallpaper not adhere so it’s important to clean first.
When the wallpaper is hung, it pulls on the wall surface. As the wallpaper adhesive cures, the wallpaper will either grow or shrink. If the wall hasn’t been cleaned well it can mean that the wallpaper won’t stick as this process happens.
step 3- seal the wall
And now to seal the wall! The steps needed to do this will depend on what the type of wall the wallpaper is going on top of-
With painted drywall, if the paint is shiny at all, you’ll want to sand it down so the wallpaper will stick.
Another option, which I think is much better, is to use wallpaper primer. The benefit is that it makes sure the wallpaper adheres well without damaging the wall. It’s also mildew resistant and makes hanging easier and removal easier.
How does it make hanging easier? The primer sizes when applied. This means is that it adds chemical that acts like a buffer between the wall and the paper. This prevents the wall from absorbing moisture from the adhesive. It also slows down the adhesive from drying too quickly which means there’s more time to get traditional paste wallpaper in the right place.
If your wallpaper is darker in color, the wallpaper primer should be tinted to match the background color.
When I wallpapered my room last, I didn’t used a primer and that was a huge mistake. When I pulled down the wallpaper, it took paint with it. Primer would have created a barrier between the wall and the paper so that the adhesive didn’t overly bond with the paint. Thus making removal easier.
If a house has fresh drywall that’s never been painted or primed, the first step is to use an oil primer on the walls designed for drywall.
Then, follow that up with applying wallpaper primer. Now the wall is ready for wallpaper!
For wood paneling, the biggest extra step is to fill the grooves in the panel with wood filler and then sand until it’s smooth. Once the wall is smooth, follow the rest of the instructions in this post.
For older houses that have plaster walls, just follow the instructions for preparing for unpainted drywall-
For plaster walls, first step is to use an oil primer on the walls.
Then, follow that up with applying wallpaper primer. Now the plaster wall is ready for wallpaper!.
Please, please don’t wallpaper over old wallpaper! It means a huge headache for future removal.
Instead, remove the old wallpaper. I like to use a wallpaper scoring tool that creates little holes in the paper. Next, spray it with wallpaper stripper or this DIY recipe. It’ll soak into the base through the holes and loosen up. Let that soak and then pull off the paper.
Once the wallpaper is off, follow the instructions for the type of wall that’s under the paper.
step 4- wipe down the wall
Next, wipe down the wall with a damp cloth or sponge 24 hours before installing. Use a non-abrasive (like an all purpose cleaner).
Why clean a day in advance? You want to make sure the wall has plenty of time to dry. Any moisture can make the wallpaper not stick.
Also, please note that some peel and stick wallpaper needs to be acclimated to the room’s climate. So check the manufacturer’s instruction to check if this is needed.
step 5- install the wallpaper
Finally, now that the wall is prepped, it’s time to install the wallpaper! I used the Tiger Summer wallpaper in sunset. The background color was custom made from pink to sunset.
It’s still light and bright in the space, but it has a tropical vibe that I adore! There are so many good details in the wallpaper- it adds a ton of character.
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