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Try Papering The Bathroom

Yes paper is popular in the bathroom again.
By Ray Lewhite. tells you how to make a good job of it putting it up

Wallpaper merchants are catering more than ever before with papers for bathrooms. Many designs representing aquariums, birds in flight or reproduction of tiling, marble or mosaic, all attractively printed, are now being made.
Although papering of bathrooms is not something new, paint and emulsion have been very much in favour for many years, but today wallpaper, with its modern style of design, is becoming popular again.
Many people who can successfully hang wallpapers in other rooms find their efforts are not so satisfactory in the bathroom or kitchen. Usually the paper commences to blister shortly after hanging it, many blisters showing after the paper has dried, or the edges start to lift of the walls a few weeks later. Both faults are very discouraging to whoever hung the paper.
I have often been asked the cause of these faults, for which there may be one or several reasons. If you have been troubled by them, I hope you may find the cause and also the remedy from my following remarks :

Painted Walls

Papering the bathroom
The majority of bathrooms today have had the walls painted above the tiling, which wet up whenever the room is used. The non-absorbent nature of this surface promotes condensation, especially during the winter months. Therefore, when paper is applied to these walls the rising vapour is absorbed into the paper. A few weeks of continual soaking like this will eventually cause the paper to loosen from the wall.
Naturally the first thing one would suggest to overcome this trouble is to hang a washable paper, which will check the moisture penetrating into the paper. Should one attempt to hang such a paper direct to a painted wall it is almost certain to blister a few minutes later, due to the water content of the paste being trapped between wall and paper, neither allowing the moisture to escape and in turn the paper will swell and blisters are formed. Unfortunately, when the paper eventually dries, the majority of the blisters will remain.
The most satisfactory method to employ when bathroom walls are in this condition, is first to break the surface by rubbing with a pumice block or similar abrasive, which can be purchased from the wallpaper stores. Some blocks contain caustic and must not be put into water. If this is the case, wet the wall surface then rub it with the block and remove the gloss from the paint, followed by a thorough rinsing with vinegar (5 per cent) added to the water. The vinegar neutralises the caustic in the abrasive.
Apply to the walls a weak solution of size i.e. about half the strength advised by the directions on the packet.
When all is dry, hang a lining paper horizontally to the wall, making sure no edge is lapped on to another. Should any be lapped, allow the paper to dry first, and lightly rub the overlapped edges with glass paper. (A lining paper is a plain white paper purchased in a roll like wallpaper.) Give the lining paper plenty of time to dry, then hang a washable paper on top of it, using the paste sparingly. The lining will help to absorb the paste from the washable paper, stop excessive stretching and will eliminate blisters.
There is yet another method one can use on bathroom walls or ones with a similar surface. Prepare the surface exactly the same, including the coat of size. The lining paper, if so desired, can be dispensed with but it will make a superior job if hung.
Next select a paper that has been treated so that the surface can be sponged without disturbing the colour. They are rather similar to the washable types previously mentioned, have not got the glazed surface. There is quiet a selection to choose from.
When the paper is hung, in the normal way, make absolutely sure all edged of the paper are firmly sealed to the surface. After allowing ample time for it to dry, apply two coats of medium strength size, allowing one to dry before applying the second, making certain that every part of the paper has been covered.
Allow the whole thoroughly to dry then give the paper a coat of 'paper varnish' this is a gloss varnish specially prepared for application to wallpaper. On no account use the usual gloss varnishes, for they will darken the paper. Should, however, any edges of paper be loose, the varnish will creep under and stain the paper. Similarly the varnish will stain any part of the paper not treated with size. Therefore, the reason for twice sizing the paper is to ensure this will not occur. The paper is now resistent to steam and can be cleaned as the occasion arises.
To ensure satisfactory results avoid using the room until the varnish is thoroughly dry, which may mean a day or two. The face of the varnish may possibly be dry to the touch after a few hours, but it requires a longer time for the varnish to dry right through.

Distemper surfaces

Papering the bathroom
Bathroom walls that have been coated with distemper, whether the washable (oil-bound) type or the ordinary size-bound distemper, must if possible, have the distemper removed to ensure a perfect job. Still do not worry unduly if you are unable to remove it entirely, although it is advisable to try and get as much off as is possible.
Use hot water to which a little sugar soap has been added (see directions on the packet) : the latter will assist in breaking down the oil in the distemper. Give the surface a good hard rubbing. I have found a floor scrubbing brush is very good for this. When softened, remove the distemper with a cloth or sponge. Having completed this part of the job, all cracks and holes must be cleared of loose matter, wetted and replastered neatly and levelled to the walls surface. Follow by a medium strength coat of size over the walls, and when dry hang a lining paper to make a more secure surface for the pattern paper to hang on.

Varnished papers

Papering the bathroom
A technique with a little difference is required for the removal of these papers for being non-porous, the water will not soak in. The surface must first be broken by rubbing it with a coarse glasspaper, a wire brush or similar abrasive. Followed with a coating of wallpaper stripper.
Once the surface is broken apply hot water to the paper, which will now be able to penetrate to the back of the paper. Even so it will be rather more difficult than other papers to remove. When all has been taken off, proceed with the preparations as previously mentioned. Should it be found so difficult that none or very little impression is being made on the paper, it is possible to rehang over the old.
Firstly it must be in sound condition, then wash to remove any grease or dirt. Rub the varnish with glass paper to obtain a slightly roughened surface, giving the new paper a better surface to hang to. Also any joints that may be overlapped must be rubbed level and any loose edges of paper stuck back.
Apply to this surface a weak solution of size to which a handful of fine plaster has been added. If another varnish paper is to be hung, a lining paper should be first hung to this surface.
From these notes I hope those of you who have had failures in the past may have found the answer, and so approach this work with greater confidence in the future. Having explained the preparation and treatment to the surfaces and application of the paper, a pattern may now be selected.
No hard or fast rules can be applied in the selection of pattern or colour as individual preferences will take priority. Should the bathroom be a fairly modern type it will with a few exceptions, have the lower half tiled, usually white glazed tiles with black edge tiles. This will allow for a wide selection of patterns. The selection is limited with bathrooms having coloured tiles as it is necessary to choose papers with harmonizing or similar colours.
White tiled bathrooms always appear so cold-looking, especially when woodwork and walls are likewise white. How cheerless and cold it appears. I suggest, therefore, the walls should be covered with a paper containing warm sunny colours and the woodwork painted in harmony.
Owing to the small area to be papered, one rarely uses two different papers, although I have successfully done so, by having a small panel of a coloured design on one wall only, followed by a quieter patterned paper for the remainder of the surface.
With some of the older types of houses and those where a small room has been converted into a bathroom, there is greater scope in which to try out schemes. Very often no tiling has been fixed above the bath nor to the lower half of the walls, so allowing for a greater number of patterns and colours from which to select.
The lower part of the walls can be papered with a different one from the upper half. One interesting paper which can be used for this lower half is a mosaic pattern which is printed in several colours. This paper can be 'stepped' as shown in the illustrations, and an appropriate border added to separate the top half, which will receive another pattern suitable in colour, to be in harmony.
The area immediately above the bath and back of the wash hand basin should be well protected from damage by water, soap and detergents which can be very harmful to papers even if they are varnished.

Heavier than paper

Papering the bathroom
There are several protective materials manufactured, that can be used instead of tiles and can be hung, or perhaps I should say fixed by the paperhanger.
One I have in mind is 'Lincrusta,' which is made in several colours, besides black and white to represent tiles. It is of a rather different texture and heavier than wallpaper, has the feel and look of tiles, will last many years and can be painted, if so desired, at any time.
The trimming and cutting is done by using a metal straight edge and a sharp blade. Although this 'Lincrusta' is more expensive than paper, it is easier and cheaper to fix than glazed tiles. With very little preparation it can be hung on a painted surface. It is advisable to remove if possible any wallpaper from the walls before applying.
Two types of paste are available, although a special paste with rubber incorporated is advised by the manufactures, when applying to a painted surface. Some specialist wallpaper merchants will show you patterns and give information on how to fix it. Although it is a little more difficult to hang than wallpaper, it should not be beyond the ability of the average person. Other types of protective covering which come to mind, and which can be used in this situation, are 'Congowall' and 'Dadolin'. These are just some of the brands available.

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