Do Not … Let the Painter or Contractor Prep for Wallpaper

hoto above: “The paperhanger told me he was finished prepping the wall, and was about to start hanging paper,” said the homeowner. Luckily, she knew better – and sent the guy packing. Additionally, he wasn’t really a paperhanger – he was a painter or handyman who told this woman that he could also hang paper.

I’m really picky about smooth walls and proper prep, and I know which primer is suited for which job.

Here’s what I tell people when they consider having a painter or handyman or their contractor prep the walls for wallpaper ….

You can pay your guy to do it – but you are going to have to pay me to do it over again. 🙂

First, painters know about prepping for paint, but wallpaper has different needs.

Second, paint and primers intended for paint are not suitable for use under wallpaper. PVA-based primers are commonly used under paint; they are designed to keep the paint from flashing. But they are soft and don’t provide a stable surface for wallpaper, nor are they designed to withstand the stress caused by drying and shrinking wallpaper.

Primers formulated for wallpaper are designed to 1.) adhere to the underlying surface, 2.) provide a “crystalized” surface that the wallpaper paste can bite into and grab ahold of, 3.) provide a surface with “slip,” which will ease installation of the new wallpaper, 4.) allow gasses from drying paste to dissipate (this prevents bubbles), 5.) withstand the torque / tension created by the drying wallpaper (to prevent surface delamination and curled seams), and 6.) allow for easier removal of the wallpaper later, with minimal damage to the wall.

Third, most contractors skip the step of removing dust from the walls. If dust is left under the primer and paper, there is the likelihood that these surfaces will delaminate (come apart) when stress is put on the paper (such as drying and pulling taught).

Ask a contractor or painter if he knows any of the information in the paragraphs above. You will receive a blank stare.

Fourth, one of the worst shortcuts that painters/contractors take is to leave the old wallpaper on the wall, or to remove the top layer but leave the backing on the wall. Then they paint or float over it. Please see the link to the page to the right, “How to Paint Over Old Wallpaper.” Hint – it tells you NOT to.

Fifth, texture looks bad under wallpaper, and it interferes with good adhesion.   I assure you that I’m better at smoothing textured walls than 99% of the guys you can hire. Click the links below, and read on …

And look at what one guy did to the homeowner’s electrical outlet. A water-based smoothing compound forced into the outlet box (see photo) could cause the circuit to blow out, and permanently damage all the light fixtures and appliances tied into that line.

One more post to read

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