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The Complete Beginner's Guide to Wallpaper: Installation, Removal, and Other Helpful Tips That Your Walls Will Appreciate

Everything Homeowners Should Know About WallpaperThose who are interested in sprucing up their space with a new wallpaper, plan to add or remove wallpaper before selling their home, or want to know if wallpaper is the right choice to decorate their home's interior should know all there is to know about wallpaper. Knowing things like how to maintain and choose wallpaper as well as how to remove it can help homeowners keep a beautiful house. The following information explores the pros and cons along with the installation and removal of wallpaper.

Types of Wallpaper

There are many types of wallpaper, and each one has a different appearance and is maintained differently.

Liner Wallpaper

Liner wallpaper is made out of fiberglass. It's a good paper for lining walls with stains and defects and can be papered over or even painted over (in certain circumstances). Liner wallpaper is easy to install and, if needed, it's also easy to remove. Liner wallpaper is usually a solid color like white.

Printed Wallpaper

Printed wallpaper is one of the most commonly available types of wallpaper. It's generally digitally printed and available in mass quantities to paper an entire room. Usually, printed wallpaper is made from water-based ink that can bleed when it gets wet, so this type of wallpaper is not ideal for use in high-moisture rooms.

Vinyl Wallpaper

Vinyl wallpaper is thicker and more durable than standard printed wallpaper, and it's also capable of withstanding steam. This wallpaper is ideal for bathrooms and kitchens.

Foil Wallpaper and Mylar Wallpaper

Foil wallpaper is made from polished metal for a shiny effect that reflects light. Mylar wallpaper is made from printed paper and a polyester film on top of it. Mylar paper looks very similar to foil wallpaper. Both types of wallpaper can become a decorative focal point in the room, depending on the level of shine and reflectiveness. Foil and Mylar wallpaper can reveal imperfections in the wall and must be installed carefully to avoid bending the foil or damaging the shine.

Flock Wallpaper

Flock wallpaper is velvety and rich in appearance and is more expensive than other types of wallpaper. It's hard to wash and can be hard to remove, but in the right room (like a home library or guest room), flock wallpaper can add a sense of luxury.

Bamboo Wallpaper

This wallpaper is environmentally friendly, so it's a material preferred by homeowners who like to use eco-friendly materials in their home. However, bamboo wallpaper can be difficult to install and also difficult to clean.

Pros and Cons of Wallpaper

Wallpaper isn't the best choice for everyone. While some people love the ease with which they can install a rich, beautiful pattern on their walls, others dislike the installation and removal process that wallpaper requires. Knowing the pros and cons of wallpaper installation can help people decide if they would like to install wallpaper in their home.

Pros

  • Durability. High-quality wallpaper can last between 10 and 15 years. Most home interior paint needs to be retouched or repainted every 5 years.
  • Cost effective. Although wallpaper costs more than paint, wallpaper can last three to five times longer. For many people, the up-front costs of wallpaper are worthwhile.
  • Versatility. Wallpaper comes in endless patterns and styles. It can be reflective or non-reflective, sweet and fun, or lush and lavish.
  • Adds visual appeal. In a room that is otherwise uninteresting or lacking in flair, wallpaper can add something unique.

Cons

  • Unpleasant removal process. Removing wallpaper can be tedious. It's best for people to remove wallpaper every time they have to install a new layer. Some types of wallpaper require special tools or chemicals for removal.
  • It's not budget friendly. Homeowners seeking a low-cost wall treatment for their upcoming remodel should know that wallpaper is not the most budget-friendly option.
  • It can peel off in humid environments. Wallpaper can peel off the walls in a humid environment if the room is not properly ventilated.

How to Install Wallpaper

How to Put Up New Wallpaper

To install wallpaper, people can start by gathering the right materials:

  • Wallpaper in proper quantities
  • Pre-mixed wallpaper paste
  • Application brush
  • Plumb line measuring tool
  • Wallpaper trimming knife
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Clean cloths
  • Wallpapering table

There are many wallpaper calculators online that can help homeowners determine how much wallpaper to purchase for this home improvement project. Below is a summarized version of the process for installing wallpaper. People should always follow manufacturer instructions when installing wallpaper, as not all types of wallpaper are installed in exactly the same way.

  1. Clean the walls.
  2. Remove nails and hooks with a screwdriver.
  3. Sand down irregularities in the wall to avoid bumps.
  4. Choose a part of the wall where there are no light switches or vents to begin wallpapering.
  5. Make a vertical line on the wall in the area where the first strip of wallpaper will be installed; use the line as a guide when placing the roll of wallpaper on the wall.
  6. Cut the first strip of wallpaper with approximately 7 or 8 inches of extra length.
  7. Apply wallpaper paste to the wall.
  8. Apply the paper to the wall, with some excess paper at the top and bottom of the wall.
  9. Smooth the wallpaper with a clean rag.
  10. Use a knife to cut the excess from the bottom and top of the wallpaper.
  11. Hold the next strip of wallpaper up to the first strip to find the place where the pattern meets.
  12. Cut the next strip to size.
  13. Apply the wallpaper paste to the wall, then line up the second strip so that the two patterns meet.
  14. Smooth the wallpaper with a rag.
  15. Cut the excess off the strip at the top and bottom.
  16. Continue process for entire room.

People will need to cut away space for the light switches and sockets. There are a variety of online tutorials that can help them with this process.

How to Remove Wallpaper

Removing wallpaper is a process, though some types of wallpaper are easier to remove than others. Easy-to-remove wallpaper will come off the walls with a putty knife when pried up an edge and peeled away.

Other types of wallpaper need to be loosened from the wall before they can be removed. Any outlets and light switches should be covered when doing this work to prevent water from getting into the outlets. Floors should also be covered with a tarp to prevent them from getting wet.

People can use a wallpaper scoring tool to score their wallpaper, then mix a solution of 1/3 household vinegar to 2/3 hot water to spray the wallpaper. They can also use a sponge to saturate the wallpaper, but should only saturate a 4-foot by 4-foot square at a time. The paper needs to soak up the water for three or four minutes before the putty knife is used to pry up the wallpaper.

Once the wallpaper has been cleared away, people can use a sponge soaked in the hot water solution to remove any remaining adhesive.

How to Remove Wallpaper Glue

If the glue doesn't come off the walls, people can use commercial wallpaper stripper. It is important they follow all instructions from the manufacturer and wear rubber gloves during the process. To use wallpaper stripper, people need to apply the solution to the walls and allow it to sit for a while. Then, they can use a putty knife to remove the solution and use a sponge to clean the remaining stripper.

How to Clean Wallpaper

Different types of wallpaper need to be maintained in different ways. Before cleaning wallpaper, it is important that people always read the manufacturer instructions.

People should dust their wallpaper regularly to avoid dust buildup. They can use the brush attachment on their vacuum for most of the dusting, especially in the upper corners and in the area near the ceiling.

People can wash hard-to-remove spots from their wallpaper with a little dish soap mixed with warm water. However, it is important that they check their wallpaper before washing it to ensure the ink won't run with the water. To do this, they can use the sponge to test a small, hidden area of their walls. If dampening the wallpaper causes the ink to run, smear, smudge, or if the paper bulges or ripples because of the moisture, then using water to clean the wallpaper is not an option.

Unless the wallpaper is made from vinyl and is water-resistant, people should limit the number of times they clean their wallpaper.

Painting Over Wallpaper

How to Paint Over Wallpaper

Generally speaking, it is not the best decision to paint over wallpaper. However, some wallpaper is too difficult to remove without damaging the wall. Other times, removing a layer of wallpaper just reveals more wallpaper beneath. If this is the case, then homeowners can paint over wallpaper. However, the process of painting walls over wallpaper is different from painting a normal wall.

People can start the painting process with an oil-based or shellac-based bonding primer, which will seal in any chemicals or adhesives in the wall and protect the paint from stains. Both types of primer emit a strong smell, so people should paint in well-ventilated areas.

Seams and torn areas should be painted over with B-I-N primer and then smoothed with spackling compound. Textured wallpaper must be sanded with a palm sander until it's smooth. Any leftover dust or grit should be cleaned away before painting over the wallpaper with oil-based primer. Once the primer is applied and dried, the primer can be painted over.

How to Fix and Avoid Common Wallpaper Issues

Installing wallpaper is not as simple as painting the walls, so many homeowners run into issues during the installation process. After wallpaper is installed, problems can arise if the wrong type of paper was installed for the room or if poor quality wallpaper was installed. Knowing how to fix common wallpaper problems can help people take care of their wallpaper, often without having to replace the wallpaper.

Bubbling Wallpaper

Bubbling wallpaper can occur for a variety of reasons, including humidity and incorrect glue mixing practices. To get rid of bubbles close to the seams of the wallpaper, people should use their hands to gently work toward the seam. Small crease-like bubbles in the wallpaper can be worked out with a wallpaper brush.

People should be gentle when working out bubbles, as too much force can lead to wallpaper damage. Isolated large bubbles beneath the wallpaper can be smoothed out with extra glue. A wallpaper syringe can be used to inject glue beneath the wallpaper to adhere it to the wall.

Curling and Loose Wallpaper Seams and Ends

Sometimes, wallpaper starts to pry loose at the ends or curl. This can happen if the room is very humid or if poor quality adhesive was used during installation.

Loose wallpaper seams and ends can be re-glued with quality wallpaper adhesive. To do this, people can gently pull back the wallpaper and insert a thin brush underneath it. Then, they can smear the adhesive and smooth the paper with a wooden seam roller. Some wallpaper adhesive may squeeze out the ends of the paper, so the adhesive should be cleaned off with a lightly dampened rag or sponge and patted dry.

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew can ruin wallpaper, so it's important to avoid mold growth whenever possible. If mold stains a home's wallpaper, it may need to be replaced.

To prevent mold growth from damaging wallpaper, people should control humidity in the room before they install the wallpaper. They can use a hygrometer to determine whether the room has a high humidity and use a dehumidifier if necessary.

Torn Wallpaper

Torn wallpaper can be fixed by patching it, so it's important for people to keep extra wallpaper on hand. To create a patch, they can tear out a little segment of matching wallpaper, or cut a section of matching wallpaper from the extra roll. Then, they can press adhesive onto the area to be patched, and place the wallpaper over the area with a sponge.

Install Wallpaper the Right Way

Making Sure Wallpaper Looks Great

Wallpaper is a great investment. Homeowners can make their homes look wonderful by installing high-quality wallpaper and choosing the design carefully before making their purchase. Those who are feeling uncertain about the wallpaper installation process should watch several tutorials and purchase extra paper. Alternatively, they can also hire a contractor to do the installation for them. Completing the job correctly will help people be happy with their wallpaper for as long as they live in the home.