Wallpaper preparation

There are two important reasons to learn proper wallpaper preparation tips for wallpaper or wallcoverings:

  1. Using an appropriate primer/sealer ensures that the wallpaper will adhere correctly to the wall; i.e. it will stick.

    It will also help the wallpaper seams to stay stuck down properly, and to not have that annoying problem where the edges begin to lift. This is especially important when you are installing wallpaper in bathrooms and kitchens as there is extra moisture in these rooms.
  2. Using an appropriate primer/sealer ensures that when you come to take down the wallpaper (see Wallpaper removal) that you will be able to do so quickly and easily without damaging the wall underneath.

    Using a solid pigmented primer is probably the best in wallpaper preparation. I personally like to use Zinser Bulls Eye 123, others prefer Zinnsser Shields and any of the reputable paint companies like Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore also make primers which work fine.

Using a solid pigmented primer is helpful in several ways:

  1. If you are hanging paper over bare drywall there will be different shades between drywall and mud seams. Using a pigmented primer helps to even out the color on the walls and any repairs will be less noticeable, especially if the wallpaper is a light color or semi-transparent.
  2. If hanging paper in new construction, especially over builder's flat, it is really important to use a primer sealer. Otherwise, the paste can soak through the builders flat and will adhere to the drywall and you will damage the walls when you try to remove the paper at a later date.
  3. It is always best to remove wallpaper if possible. But in some cases, if you have a home that already has wallpaper hung and the paper is on really good and tight, such that you fear you may damage the walls if you try to take it down (See Wallpaper Removal) then it is possible to hang new wallpaper over the old.

    First, you would cut out any loose paper and then spackle and repair the seams. Applying a good quality pigmented primer will help to even out the color on the walls and will help the new paper to adhere.
  4. If you are hanging an expensive English pulp paper, then you would generally use a lining paper. Again, it would be important to prime the walls before you hang the lining-paper and then prime the lining-paper before hanging the English pulp.
  5. If you are attempting to hang wallpaper over a heavily textured wall then the choices are to apply a skim coat or lining paper before hanging wallpaper. Again, priming on top of both of these first would be important before hanging the paper.

Wallpaper Preparation tips from the NGPP:

Experienced wallpaper installers have used different products with outstanding results other than those listed. These guidelines were developed as a starting point for the do it yourself homeowner and are considered the best guess as to what type of product will suit your needs. This information is based on subjective, collective information from several wallcovering professionals and may not suit your particular application. It is imperative that you fully understand all safety precautions when dealing with these products, and always follow the manufacturer's instructions completely. You must also follow any instructions from the wallpaper and adhesive manufacturer as to what type of surface preparations are needed for effective bonding.

On drywall (painted with latex or oil) use an acrylic primer or prep coat.

On drywall (painted with builder's flat) use a primer/sealer.

On new plaster (after the proper curing time) use size mixed with the adhesive you plan to install the final wallcovering with to prepare the surface.

On older plaster (painted with latex or oil) use an acrylic primer or primer/sealer.

On any wall with suspected defects or damage use a primer/sealer.

On any wall with stains or mold issues use a stain killer primer. (mold must be treated with a bleach solution first)

On new or repaired drywall use a primer/sealer.

On a wall surface with residual wallpaper paste use a primer/sealer.

On decorative borders applied to a painted surface refer to wall type mentioned above.

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