You love the look of the fabulous new wall coverings, but you're still nervous about hanging them. Have no fear. Application and removal -- no steamer, no scraper -- of the latest generation of wall coverings is easier than ever. And, once they're up, they're more durable, thanks to new materials, such as Super Vinyl and Sanitas (a cotton/paper blend.) Andra Matusevics, Merchant for Decor at Home Depot, shares tips that will help things go smoothly, even for first-time paperhangers.
How much will you need?
This depends on the area you want to cover plus the design of the wall covering; some have directional prints or repeat patterns which need to be matched up. Carefully measure all the surfaces you want to cover, then consult with the staff at your paint-and-paper or home improvement store. They will help you determine how many rolls you need and allow enough to compensate for pattern matching.
How should you start?
A little preparation goes a long way: always remove any old wallpaper and clean the surfaces to be covered, repairing any holes or rough spots, then prepare all the surfaces by applying wallpaper primer. And do any painting -- ceiling, trim, doors -- before you paper. It's easier to remove paste than paint.
How do you get the hang of it?
Most ceilings and floors are not absolutely level and corners are often not straight. Use a plumb line to snap a vertical chalk line from ceiling to baseboard near the corner of each wall.
You may be using prepasted or unpasted wall covering; follow the manufacturer's instructions to prepare the adhesive, if necessary.
Measure the wall space from ceiling to floor, then, leaving an extra 5 cm (2 in) at top and bottom, cut your first strip. If you are using wall covering without pattern repeats, cut the other pieces in advance measuring their length against the first piece. For wallpaper with pattern repeats, cut the pieces as you proceed, rolling them out beside each previous strip, to align the pattern.
After applying the adhesive or moistening the wall covering in a tray, you should "book" the strip before hanging it, so it's easier to carry and hang: Lay the strip, face down on the floor, then loosely fold over each end (without creasing) to the midpoint. There is a time limit that you can leave each type of wall covering booked, check this on the roll label or with store staff.
Carry the booked strip to the wall. Unfold and apply the top half, aligning one edge with one of the chalk lines. Work your way down, smoothing the edges. Using a smoother, brush lightly from the vertical centre of the strip out to each edge to eliminate wrinkles and adhere the strip to the wall. Unfold the lower half of the strip and repeat the process.
Book and apply the second strip, butting the edges of the first and second strips (some wall coverings may require a small overlap at the edges; check with the sales staff about shrinkage for the type you have chosen).
To hide seams, go over them with a seam roller. If your wallpaper is embossed, run a cloth down the seam instead so as not to damage the wall covering.
Wallcovering words you need to know
Directional print: Pattern on a wallpaper or border that should be installed in a particular up-and-down orientation.
Dry hanging: Method of hanging wall coverings in which the adhesive is applied to the wall rather than the wall covering.
Plumb line or plumb bob: Weighted string used to produce a vertical chalk line.
Pre-pasted: Wall covering that has had adhesive applied to the back of it by the manufacturer. They must be soaked in water or activator to activate the paste.
Repeat: The vertical distance from the centre of one motif on the pattern to the centre of the next.
Seam: The butted edges where two strips meet.
Seam roller: Used to smooth down the seams, press out any air bubbles and adhere the wall covering.
Smoother or smoothing brush: Used to smooth out wrinkles or air bubbles.
Strippable: Wall covering that can be peeled off the wall leaving almost no paste or adhesive or damage to the surface.
Substrate: The backing that is laminated to the underside of wall coverings ranges from woven or nonwoven fabrics to lightweight paper.
Unpasted: Wallpaper to which paste must be rolled or brushed on during the installation process.
Wall covering: Applied to walls for decoration and to hide imperfections. May be made from various materials such as paper and natural or synthetic fibres.
Wallpaper: Strictly speaking, decorative paper that has a paper backing, but the term is often used to describe all wall coverings.
Wallpaper primer: A sealant (sometimes referred to as size) made specifically for the application of wallpaper. It prevents the underlying wall from becoming damaged and also allows you more time to position the paper during installation.