Wallpapering The Right Way – Part 3

Last time we looked at wallpaper paste and which paste will suit you for the job in hand. In this article I'm going to let you know how to prepare your wall ready for papering.

Preparing the surface

Time spend preparing a wall surface will be rewarded with a decent finish. No matter how good your papering technique, a poor surface must be smooth and free from dust and grease or the job will end in disaster. Only plasterboard with oil-sealed skimmed joints demands little preparation. Both new plaster and previously painted walls needs plenty, and you should allow for this when you plan the job.

New plaster: Leave new plaster to dry out thoroughly for at least six months before papering it. Paper it any sooner and you'll only have to do it all again when the damp starts coming thought. In the meantime, fill any blemishes in the surface and rub down with sandpaper. If you do this in stages, a layer at a time the end result will be so much more rewarding.

New plaster must also be sized before it is papered, to provide a key for the paste and to stop the walls absorbing too much water too quickly. Commercial size is available in powder form: you mix it with water, paint it on the walls and leave it to dry. In most cases, however, a dilute solution of your wallpaper paste makes a perfectly adequate substitute.

Papered surfaces: Never paper over existing wall coverings and the paste may soften them and cause peeling later on. To strip ordinary paper, start by scoring the surface with a wire brush or nail (take care not to damage the plaster underneath). Then soak it with warm water or a proprietary stripper like Polypeel, applied with a brush or sponge.

Using a wide blade stripping knife and starting from the bottom, scrape off the soaked paper. Again, take care not to damage the plaster underneath. Afterwards, smooth any roughness left on the surface with sandpaper, wash down the wall and let it dry thoroughly before pasting.

If your walls are papered with vinyl, you may be able to get away with just peeling of the surface layer and papering onto the paper backing left on the wall. But make sure the backing is firmly stuck before you do this: if in doubt, strip it in the normal way.

The most effective but expensive way of stripping wallpaper is to hire a steam stripper. Normally there is no need – water or stripper work perfectly well. Nevertheless, on heavier papers such as Anaglypta and wood chip, a steam stripper is a good investment, especially if you have a lot to do.

Painted surfaces: Scrape off any flaking emulsion or gloss paint and sand the patches smooth. If sound, wash the surface down to remove any traces greasy of oily stains – sugar soap generally gives better results that ordinary soap – then lightly score to give a key for the paper.

That's it for now next time we will start of hanging paper. Doing all this ground work may seem long winded and pointless. But you will defiantly see better results in the end.