Wallpaper tips and tricks

The paper chase is on. Learn how to turn a blah room into a showstopper in one weekend

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Not since the 70s has there been so much interest in bold, graphic wallpaper. Wallpaper looks richer than paint and gives a room more dimension, plus it can mask a wall that is in bad shape. Follow these step-by-step instructions for a perfectly papered room.

1) Measure the room, then type “wallpaper calculator†into your internet search engine and enter the dimensions to determine how many rolls you’ll need. Remove the old paper; a wash of fabric softener and water will help loosen it. Fill in holes and cracks with compound and sand until smooth. Painted walls should be sanded too, the glue will adhere better and it will eradicate bumps.

2) Repaint any trim and ceilings prior to papering. Wallpapering can be messy, so cover furniture and rugs with dropcloths.

3) Using a level or plumb line, draw a vertical line from floor to ceiling as a guide to keep the paper straight. Repeat this step for every strip.

4) With a utility knife, cut lengths of paper that are about four inches longer than the wall, from ceiling to baseboard. With big repeating patterns, the strips might have to be longer to match the pattern on neighbouring strips.

5) Before you start papering, remember that when you apply the last piece the pattern won’t match up perfectly. Therefore, you’ll want to start out in an exposed area and end behind a curtain or door.

6) For prepasted wallpaper: Fill a tray with lukewarm water. Immerse each strip in water tray for between 30 seconds to one minute. Then take the top end of strip and pull it out of the water. Make sure no creasing occurs. Be sure to change the water in the tray every six to eight strips. For unpasted wallpaper: Lay individual strips out, face down. Dip a pasting brush or roller in wallpaper adhesive. Be sure to saturate the paper evenly. Start at centre of the strip and work toward the edges. Apply a thin, even coat of wallpaper adhesive and cover all edges carefully. After you have activated, or applied, the adhesive fold the glued sides in toward each other for easier application.

7) Start the application process by matching the edge of your first strip to the plumb line you’ve drawn on the wall, leaving the two inches excess paper at the top of the ceiling. Work from the inside out, pushing out air bubbles and wrinkles by pulling a section of the paper away from the wall until you reach the wrinkle. If a bubble won’t disappear, cheat and prick it with a needle. Around windows and doors, make a diagonal cut in the paper where it hits the window or door trim. Press the paper into the crease where the wall meets the trim so it fits snuggly around the window or door trim. Pushing the paper into corners with a putty knife makes it look neater.

8) Trim excess paper at top and bottom of strip with a utility knife and ruler. Go over the seams with a roller: if any pieces are curling up, squeeze a little wallpaper adhesive under the seam and roll it again.

9) Wipe the wallpaper with a clean damp sponge to remove any glue (rinse out the sponge well or streaks of glue will be noticeable on the paper when it dries). Clean any wallpaper glue that dripped onto baseboards etc., then step back to enjoy an (almost) instant shot of panache.