How to Prepare Walls for Wallpaper

If you want to hang wallpaper by yourself, you should keep in mind the importance of prepping the wall. For this, you first need to clean it, even it out, spackle it, sand it back, and prime it — otherwise, you won’t be able to attain a strong adhesion between the wall and the wallpaper.

5-Minute Crafts wants to tell you how to prepare any wall for hanging wallpaper, step-by-step.

You’ll need

  • wall scraper

  • protective goggles, rubber gloves, and a respirator (advisable)

  • ladder

  • spackling compound

  • sandpaper or a sand sponge

  • bucket and a big sponge or rag

  • primer-sealer

  • old towels

  • drop cloth

Preparing the room

  • Remove any furniture or other items that you can from the room and drape the rest of the remaining items and the floor with the drop cloth.
  • Put old towels along the baseboards. Don’t use newspaper for this, because wet ink can stain the surfaces it touches.

  • Remove any items from the walls including rods for window coverings. If you can, remove sockets, switches, and light fixtures.
    An important note: Make sure to first turn off the power in the room and follow safety precautions as you work.

Preparing the walls

Step #1. Remove old wallpaper with the help of the wall scraper. If the process turns out to be difficult to do, you can also use a wallpaper steamer or a solution of warm water and vinegar (in 1:1 ratio). It should be abundantly applied to the old wallpaper with the help of a sprayer, left for 15 minutes, and then removed with the scraper. If you notice any mold or fungi, remove it before you move on to the next step.

Step #2. Fill any gaps (cracks or holes) in the wall with the help of the spackling compound to get a smooth surface. Let it dry. Sand the wall with the help of the sandpaper, removing wallpaper and spackling compound residue. The surface should be clean, dry, and matte so that the new wallpaper adheres well to it.

Step #3. Clean dirt and dust from the wall. Treat the surface with an antiseptic if you wish.

Step #4. Prime the wall using a brush and leave it for 24 hours to let it dry well. In order to improve the adhesion between the wallpaper and the wall, use an acrylic primer-sealer. It’s ready! Now you can start your hanging wallpaper.

Useful tips

  • If the wall has already been painted, you need to assess its condition first. Thick and peeling layers of old paint should be removed with a scraper. Afterward, fill in any gaps with a vinyl spackling compound, then sand the wall and prime it. If the wall is in good condition, just washing it and letting it dry will be enough. Afterward, apply an acrylic primer-sealer, once this dries, you will be able to hang the wallpaper.

  • If the wall hadn’t been painted and primed the previous year, it’s probably better to first apply an oil primer-sealer in order to protect the surface from the possible appearance of mold or fungi. Afterward, apply a layer of acrylic paint as well.

  • If sanding the wall with sandpaper doesn’t help to even the wall texture, then a wallpaper liner can help. It will make the surface smooth and become the necessary base for the wallpaper.

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