Prepping Your Walls for Wallpaper

Wallpaper Prep

Prepping your walls for wallpaper may not be the most fun step in the process, but it is the only way to achieve the perfect starting point. Without good preparation, wall coverings will not adhere properly. Worse, if you ever wish to remove wallpaper, effective preparation will allow you to do so more easily and quickly. Skip this step and the paper may either spontaneously peel off or refuse to let go of the wall when you want to change it. Follow these helpful tips to prepare your walls properly.

Dealing with Existing Wall Coverings

Trying to attach wallpaper to existing wall coverings is a sure recipe for disaster, no matter how tempted you are. If the existing paper is newer, it may simply peel away (test a corner first to see). If it’s of an older variety however, you’ll have to work a little harder. Score the entire surface with a special scoring tool, then apply removal solution (typically a liquid mixed with hot water in a spray bottle) and allow the old paper to soften for the recommended time. You should then be able to peel away it and its backing easily. Repeat the process if some sections are stubborn.

Repairing Wall Damage and Blemishes

Although it seems like you’ll be masking the wall surface, even the tiniest blip will show through your new wallpaper. Repair any holes with spackling compound, allow to dry and sand until smooth. For wall cracks that are recurring or larger than 1/8 inch, use an elasticized caulk or crack patch product, sanded smooth after drying. Remove all cover and switch plates and check the entire wall surface with a flashlight, looking for paint spatters, drips, or large dips. Fill and/or sand as necessary until you have a perfectly smooth surface.

Preparing the Wall Surface

The correct product to use for the final step depends on the wall’s surface. Your new wallpaper’s manufacturer may specify which product(s) to use, but if not, the general rules vary based on whether your wall is drywall or plaster and how it has been finished previously. Your product choices include acrylic or oil-based primer, primer/sealer, stain-killing primer, prep coat (primer/size) or sizing. If you have drywall that’s been painted with latex or oil-based paint, use acrylic primer or prep coat. Drywall with flat paint requires primer/sealer. Most plaster surfaces require an application of sizing first, followed by primer. Any wall with known defects requires primer/sealer. If the surface has mold, grease, or stains, treat with bleach (for mold), then follow with a stain-killing primer. When in doubt, primer/sealer usually provides the most desirable prep surface.

The experienced professionals at Wallpaper Warehouse understand the complexities of preparing your walls correctly, so that your installation will go smoothly. Contact them before you start, so they can assist you through the process of prepping your walls for wallpaper.

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