Wallpaper Repair After Water Leak

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital ImageI hung this rich, velvety chocolate brown wallpaper in the entry way of a home in Tanglewood a few years ago. There was a water leak in the room above, which damage the Sheetrock in the entryway and adjoining powder room. The contractor had fixed the damage before I was called in – but, typically, they put their patch ON TOP of the wallpaper. Guys – you’re supposed to REMOVE THE WALLPAPER FIRST! Anyway, I didn’t get a shot of the “before,” but it was essentially a nicely done patch of joint compound on top of the paper. (Usually they are not nicely done, and I have to redo their work, so at least this made me happy.)

There was just enough left over paper for me to remove and replace two full length strips, one on either side of the door, and one above the door. (A good reminder as to why it’s always a good idea to order a little more paper than you need.) I wanted to remove the damaged paper, rather than go over it, to eliminate a double-thickness of paper, that would be quite noticeable along the full length of the 8′ seam. This paper is on the newish “non-woven” substrate, which is made to come off the wall easily and in one piece. It did – and, thanks to my wonderful primer KILZ Original, the wall is still perfectly intact.

However, I was not able to remove the paper over the door, where the workmen had made their patch. At first, I tried digging under the patch, but it quickly became clear that that would create a bigger mess, and possibly compromise the wall structure, so I decided to cut around the existing wallpaper and leave their patch in place. However, that left a height difference between their patched area and the bare wall from which I had stripped the old paper, which would leave a noticeable hump under the new wallpaper.

So I “floated it out” to even up the area as best as possible, waited overnight for it to dry, sanded it smooth, primed, and was finally ready to hang. Sorry, no pics of the workmen’s patch or of my patch over that.

In the first photo, you see where the two strips on either side of the door have been removed, as well as the piece over the door, and my smooth patch. In the second photo, the two pieces on either side of the door have been put into place.

In the third photo, the final piece of wallpaper is in place. What is cool about this is, this is actually pretty tricky. With a regular wallpaper, it’s difficult to put new paper in the middle of existing paper, because, once wallpaper is pasted, it absorbs the paste, and moisture from the paste, and expands, and the rate of expansion can vary. What that means is, a new piece you want to put in between two other pieces may not fit exactly, because it could expand to a wider or narrower width than the original piece.

For that reason, I striped the wall under the seam area with dark brown paint, just in case there would be a gap between the new strip and the existing strip. Alternately, the new strip could become wider than the space, necessitating that it be trimmed a hair along one edge.

But I was lucky. Because the non-woven material is pretty stable, it usually does not expand or contract much with moisture, so the paste did not effect it. All three strips fit back into the existing space perfectly. This especially surprised me, because my patch over the workmen’s patch created two ever-so-slight humps in the wall over each corner of the door frame, and I feared that the additional height would create a teeny bit of space that the paper could not fill. But it turned out that the paper fit perfectly. Whew!

There is one issue, though, as you see in the final photos. The paper that has been on the wall for several years is much darker than the new paper that has been rolled up and packed in a box in the closet. But, once I got my 100 watt light bulb out of there, the room’s one recessed can light was dim enough that you did not notice the color difference. And it’s definitely better than having to replace wallpaper throughout the entire room.

The wallpaper is by Schumacher, and the interior designer is Shirley Webb. She creates beautiful, elegant, yet livable designs (this family has school-aged children), and is a delight to work with.

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