Why Is This Paper Not Sticking?

The guy who hung the diamond pattern just a few years ago had the right idea, but he didn’t go far enough. First of all, he should have removed the original paper, the tan dotted paper you see below the diamond paper. Sometimes, though, it’s impossible to strip off a paper, so, if it’s a “paper” paper and not a “vinyl” paper, you can paper over it – but you have to do certain things.

The guy did float the seams of the original paper. This smoothes over them, ensuring that no vertical lines show under the new paper where the seams of the original paper are.

Then you MUST prime the paper. He omitted this step, and that’s one reason for the curlng seams. Priming with oil based primers, like KILZ, which is what I use, prevents moisture from the new paper from soaking into the bottom paper, which could cause bubbles – which do not dry and disappear.

Primer also ensures an even surface for the new paper to grab on to. In the second photo, you see that there are three types of surfaces …. the original wallpaper, which has a plastic coating that new wallpaper will not stick to, the joint compound that was used to cover the seams, which is porous and sucks up the paste, leaving nothing to hold the new paper in place, and a 3″ wide strip below the ceiling, as well as a narrow strip along the woodwork, where paint got onto the wallpaper. The new wallpaper will stick (or not) to each of these surfaces differently. So a primer will provide a consistant surface for the new paper to adhere to.

I also think the guy did not use any additional paste. He hung a pre-pasted wallpaper, which comes with adhesive already on the back – just wet and hang. However, I find it more effective augment that by smearing a light coat of paste on the wall, particularly under the seams. This is especially important in a bathroom, which tends to get humid. And humidity, of course, is the Great Enemy of Wallpaper.

The third photo is the room after I finished it. I appologize for the crummy shot – it’s hard to get far enough away from the wall in a tiny powder room. It’s Thibaut T6937 http://www.thibautdesign.com/collection/old_collection.php?productID=2577&patternID=126, one of my favorite patterns, and a very fine paper both to work with and in how it holds up over time. In fact, I got a call to remove this pattern from a powder room I did for the previous owner back in 1996. It’s still in perfect shape.

When the homeowner saw her room, with this lovely and bright hummingbird pattern, instead of the drab brown diamond design, she was delighted. And one of the first things she said was, “And all the seams are flat! There no seams popping open and nothing coming loose.”

I know she will enjoy this bathroom for many years.

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