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How-To Paint, Stain & Wallcovering
Hometime Logo Dean Johnson
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Trans 1) Removing Wallpaper Trans
2) Repairing Walls
3) Preparing Walls & Wood
4) Paint Removers
5) Primers & Paints
6) Choosing Paint
7) Brushes, Rollers & Masking
8) Painting Walls & Trim
9) Applying Wood Stain
10) Applying Clear Finishes
11) Stencils
12) Faux Finishes
13) Sponge Finishes
14) About Wallpaper
15) Preparing for Wallpaper
16) Wallpaper Tools & Layout
17) Booking Wallpaper
18) Hanging Wallpaper
19) Wallpapering Around Windows, Doors and Corners
20) Advanced Wallpaper Techniques

Wallpaper Tools & Layout

Basic tools you'll need for papering:

  • Painting ToolsTape Measure: For laying out walls and measuring wallcoverings
  • 4-Foot Level: To determine plumb lines and for use as straight-edge in cutting paper to width
  • Scissors: For cutting and trimming (long-bladed versions available for papering)
  • Paint Roller and Tray: For applying paste to unpasted wallcoverings
  • Water Tray: For soaking prepasted wallcoverings in water to activate paste
  • Seam Roller: Small roller designed to roll out wallpaper seams
  • Smoothing Brush: For smoothing out paper during installation
  • Broadknife: For creasing paper at top and bottom of walls (4-6 inches wide)
  • Razor Knife: For trimming paper (dulls quickly, have extra blades)
  • Sponge, Bucket and Water: For rinsing wallpaper after application
  • Paperhanging Table: Long table specifically designed for wallpapering (a convenience item only—not a necessity, but which may be available for rental wherever you get your wallpaper)


Your Room's Focal Point


holding level to wall

Knowing where to start your papering project usually involves determining the layout for the entire room before you start.

The first step is to determine the focal point of the room, which is usually the wall you see first when you enter the room. That's where you want the patterns in the wallpaper to be centered, and often it's just the center of the wall opposite the door.

If so, use a tape measure to find the center point of the wall, and use a 4-foot level or a plumb bob to mark a plumb line through that point lightly with a pencil, from the ceiling down to the floor.


Then mark off the width of the paper from that centerline to both corners and draw plumb lines through each mark lightly with a pencil.



However, if you have a large repeating pattern, you may want to center a strip on center point of the wall.

If that's the case, then you should measure half the width of the paper in both directions from the center point, mark plumb lines through those points for the edges of the center strip and then mark off the subsequent strips to both corners.

You may also want to try this technique if your initial layout leaves you with strips less than 6 inches wide at the corners. Strips that narrow are hard to work with, but offsetting the centerline by half the width of the wallpaper will leave larger strips in the corner.


Your Starting Point

wallpaper starting pointYou can then start hanging strips at any of the plumb lines you've drawn, assuming your measurements are accurate.

To be safe, you might want to start in the center of that wall to get the most prominent strips positioned properly and work off those toward the corners.

But if you're working with a small or neutral pattern, you could just as easily start in a corner and work your way around the room from there. (However, you need to leave a half-inch overlap at the corner as we explain on the next page in our section on wallpapering corners).


Positioning the Mismatch

Unless there's a natural break in the room (like a floor-to-ceiling window, door, built-in bookshelf or fireplace), there's bound to be a point where you won't be able to match the pattern between two strips.

By planning ahead and hiding that seam, you can minimize the impact of that mismatch.

The most common places to hide mismatches would be over the door entering the room or in the least visible corner of the room.


Measuring & Cutting Wallpaper Strips

For the basic wallpaper strips running from the floor to the ceiling, measure from the top of any base trim along the floor up to the ceiling or up to the bottom of any ceiling molding. Add 4 to 6 inches to that figure (beginners should tend toward the higher figure) for trimming purposes.

Measure off a strip that length from your roll of wallpaper and cut it off with a scissors. You'll be trimming the paper to its exact length after you install it so don't spend much time trying to get a perfectly straight cut at this stage.

Cut as many full pieces as you need and save the leftovers from the rolls for filling in around doors and windows.

And if your paper has a drop match (which requires that the pattern at the ceiling matches on every other strip), you can cut the strips from alternating rolls of paper which'll result in less paper waste.

NOTE: If you're dealing with a large repeating pattern, you should line up the strips so there's a full pattern along the ceiling since cutting the pattern off at the ceiling doesn't look too good. So make sure each is long enough to accommodate that.

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