links here


That the secret of success when you are papering a wall
ByBy Ray Lewhite.

In most jobs the secret of success is adequate preparation. And this is certainly the case with paper hanging. Many of you that are reading this article will have come across problems such as staining, blistering and loosening of papers. In the majority of cases these faults are due to incorrect or lack of preparation of the walls before hanging.
When starting to re-paper the walls of a room (or ceiling) it is most necessary to remove any old wallpaper.
Unfortunately, many people don't seem to think this is worth doing. Yet if there new paper begins to blister, or if the edges become detached after a few days, they will blame the paste or the paper.
The fault is their own. The trouble is caused simply by hanging the new paper on the old. When the moisture from the paste is absorbed into the old paper it causes blisters to form. When the paste dries the edges of the old paper are pulled from the wall.
This may not always happen, but the possibility is always there. And anyway, think of the poor condition of your old paper. It has been up for several years and is dirty and possibly greasy. From this point of view of hygiene alone it should be removed.

Good soaking

Most papers come down fairly easily if given a good soaking with warm water applied with a large paste brush. Wet from the bottom and treat all the walls several times. Allow time for the water to thoroughly soak in. The more the paper is wetted the easier it will come down.
Take care when working in upper rooms. Too much water running on the floor may seep through the joints in the boards and damage the ceiling in the room below. When the paper is sufficiently soaked remove it with a stripping knife, a tool specially made for the purpose. Don't use chisels and kitchen knives. They may damage the plaster and give you unnecessary repair work.
Re-soak any parts that are obstinate and when the walls have been completely cleared collect all the old waste into a sack. (You may of course like to try a steam wallpaper stripper which are very effective.)
Wash down the walls with warm water using a brush and sponge. This will remove any old paste and specks of paper. Follow by filling any cracks or holes with plaster or similar material. This must be done correctly or the plaster is liable to fall out when dry.
Clean away all loose plaster from the cracks or holes by using the edge or point of a trowel or stripping knife. Most plastic fillers harden rapidly so mix only enough for your immediate use. Add cold water a little at a time, until the mixture can be picked up on the trowel without running off. Before filling the holes or cracks wet them thoroughly with water and immediately press the plaster firmly in, levelling off smoothly to a wall surface. A few minutes later run a wet brush over the work to remove any surplus plaster. Take care not to brush filling from the holes.

When the walls are dry your next step is to apply a coat of size. This is a simple job but it is important that you do it. Size slows down the absorbtion of the paste into the wall and gives you time to arrange your paper into correct matching position before the back of the paper has dried. It also helps the paper to slide easily into position.
Direction are given on all packets of concentrated size and you should have no trouble. You may, however, be inclined to use a stronger size when hanging a thick or heavy embossed paper. Too strong a coat of size is liable to form a film on the wall surface. After the paper has been up a few days the size becomes brittle and lifts taking the paper with it.

The only occasion when size should be a little stronger is when the walls are new and porous. Walls which have been papered several times, and each time stripped off and re-sized, require only a weak to medium strength size.
You may decide to employ a cellulose paste for hanging your paper. The manufacturers advise that you dilute some of this paste powder and use it instead of size. But whatever you use follow the makers directions. He knows!

Distempered surfaces, whether oil-bound (washable) or size bound, should be removed if possible. It is not a good practice to bind down with a coat of size and paper over. The brittleness of the size and the effect of the paste drying out, may pull away the distemper. Washable distempers should be washed with water that has had a little sugar soap added to help break down the oil.
Unfortunately, it is often impossible to remove the distemper entirely, so it is advisable to apply a lining paper to the walls before hanging a heavy or embossed paper. Size bound distempers were usually applied to ceilings only. They are softer and normally easier to remove. Make ever effort with brushes, water and stripping knives to remove all the old distemper before hanging the paper. Otherwise the edges may become detached from the ceiling after a few days. Apply a weak coat of size on all wall surfaces, as this creates a little slip, checks rapid absorption of paste into the walls and gives a certain amount of adhesion

Painted walls

Painted walls are perhaps the most difficult surface on which to hang paper. The walls are sealed and all moisture must dry outwards. The non-absorbent nature of the surface promotes condensation behind the paper, causing it to come away from the wall.
First break the surface by rubbing with pumice blocks or similar abrasives to remove the gloss from the paint. If caustic blocks or soda are used, rinse off with vinegar (5 per cent.) and water to neutralise the alkali.
Allow to dry and apply a weak solution of size to which a handful of plaster has been added. This will give the wall a slightly roughened surface. When dry hang lining paper horizontally, allowing it to soak well before hanging in order to reduce the likelihood of air blisters.
Hard plaster surfaces can be troublesome. Their smoothness tends to make wallpaper joints open. This applies especially to thick or embossed papers. These papers naturally expand after being pasted and shrink back as they dry. They have difficulty in gripping the smooth surface of the wall. It is advisable to hang a lining paper first. This has a dual purpose : it keeps the wallpaper from 'springing' and it absorbs moisture that occurs during damp weather or when the temperature rises after a cold spell.

The lining paper helps to make a barrier between the wall and the room atmosphere and in doing so reduces condensation. Otherwise you may get damp patches. People sometimes think this damp is coming from outside, for the patches appear mostly on the outside wall, which is naturally the coldest. But you will find them on the inner walls, usually on the upper part.
Some readers, who live in the country, may have homes where the rooms are separated by wooden partitions. Sometimes shortly after hanging, paper starts to split where the grooves of the boards meet. This is caused by the continual expansion and contraction of the boards under varying atmospheric conditions.
The best way to overcome the trouble is to hang hessian, a sack like material made in varying thicknesses. It is 6 ft. wide, with the out edges woven so that no threads are loose. It is sold by the yard. I prefer the lightweight hessian. Use galvanised or cooper tacks to fix it. Iron tacks should not be used, as rust marks may appear on the wallpaper.
Methods of hanging vary in different parts of the country. My way is to cut the lengths about 12in. longer than required and to hang by stretching firmly and fixing the top first. The tacks should be two or three inches apart, with the top edge a good inch above the tacks.

When the top of the first 6ft. width is fixed, pull plenty at the bottom. This is best done by wrapping the surplus round a broom handle. It is an advantage to work with some help. One person can keep the hessian stretched and taut while the other fixes it with tacks. Cut away the surplus. Continue to hang further lengths until the area is covered.
Next sew together or tack where the edges of each length meet, and tack the outer edges. Slight adjustments of tacks may be required if and distortion of the hessian occurs. All loose edges beyond the tacks must be glued to the match board preferably with a latex glue or one not soluable in water.
The whole surface should now be coated with a weak solution of size. Then immediately hang a lining paper horizontally. It is very important that the hessian is still when the lining paper is applied. Should it be allowed to dry you will have great difficulty in putting up the paper. When all is dry, the wallpaper can be hung in the usual manner.


Go Back to Home Page

Always make sure to leave
a clean job at the
end of the day