How To Prep Walls For Wallpaper

How To Prep Walls For Wallpaper

How To Prep Walls For Wallpaper

Introduction to Wall Preparation for Wallpaper

When it comes to wallpaper installation, a step that is frequently overlooked but exceedingly significant is the preparation of the walls. This preparatory phase involves multiple steps that are critical in achieving a pleasant, professional looking wallpaper finish.

Importance of Wall Preparation

Wallpapering over irregular, unclean, or inadequately prepped walls can lead to imperfect or unattractive results, thus underscoring the importance of proper wall preparation. Whether the walls are made of plaster or drywall, thoroughly preparing them for wallpaper application will ensure an excellent adherence and a seamless, smooth look. Not only does it help in enhancing the overall aesthetics, it also prolongs the wall covering's lifespan.

Uncovering the Bare Walls

Start preparing your wall for wallpaper by ensuring that the surface is bare. To do this, remove all the wall fixtures, including light switches, picture hooks, and nails. For walls that previously had wallpaper, you should remove it entirely before proceeding. Be cautious to not damage the wall during this process.

Smoothing the Surface

After uncovering the walls, the next step is to check for any imperfections. Look out for cracks, holes, bumps, and lumps. These can be fixed with a filler compound, sand them smooth once they are dry. This stage is important to guarantee a great finish, as wallpaper tends to highlight these irregularities rather than conceal them.

Cleaning the Walls

The walls should be free of dirt, debris, and loose paint. Cleaning the surfaces not only helps to remove these, but it also allows the wallpaper adhesive to stick better. Using a mild detergent or simply warm water will do the trick, but make sure the walls are completely dry before proceeding to the next step.

Applying a Primer

Applying a primer-sealer to the walls creates an ideal surface for the wallpaper. It makes the application process easier and also aids in future wallpaper removal. Let the primer dry as directed by the manufacturer before applying wallpaper.

Final steps

Once the primer is dry, you are ready to hang your wallpaper. Remember, patience and meticulous attention to detail during this wall preparation phase will greatly influence the final result. The effort invested in these steps will be mirrored on your splendid new walls.


Wall preparation might appear to be a taxing process, but its role is paramount. A carefully prepped wall facilitates easier wallpaper installation, ensuring a smooth, professional look. It also ensures the durability and longevity of the wall covering. With a good understanding of why and how to prepare your walls for wallpaper, you are on your way to achieve a fantastic wall transformation.

Tools and Materials Needed for Wall Preparation

Before you embark on your wallpapering project, it is crucial that you prepare your walls properly. This process requires several important tools and materials, each of which serves a specific function.

Wallpaper Scoring Tool

This gadget is employed to create tiny punctures in the wallpaper's surface. It facilitates the penetration of a stripping solution and makes the removal process efficient and straightforward.

Stripping Solution

An amalgamation of warm water and stripping solution is used to loosen the adhesive used for attaching the wallpaper. Several different brands and makeups of wallpaper stripping solutions can be purchased.

Wallpaper Remover Scraper

This hand tool is used to scrape off old wallpaper gently. A model with a sharp edge and a comfortable grip is ideal.

Sponges and Buckets

A sponge and buckets are needed to rinse the wall during the stripping process, as well as to clean up any mess left behind afterward.


Finishing the wall prep, a fine-grit sandpaper is critical to smoothen any wall roughness. This makes the proceeding wallpaper application seamless, issue-free and gives a clean look.

Plaster and Spackle

These materials come in handy for patching up any cracks or irregularities so that your wallpaper has a smooth and uniform surface to adhere to.

Wall Primer

This is crucial for sealing the wall and providing a solid base for the wallpaper adhesive. It also aids in preventing the new wallpaper from peeling off, thus ensuring longevity.

Each tool listed above plays a crucial role in wall preparation for wallpapering. When you have assembled all your materials, you can proceed to take down any existing wallpaper and prep the wall meticulously, empowering you to apply your new choice of wallpaper with confidence and ease.

Assessing Your Wall Condition

Before you can begin the process of hanging wallpaper, it is vital to assess the condition of your walls. The surface you're going to be working with needs to be in good shape for the wallpaper to adhere properly and look its best.

Identifying Wall Surface

The first step is identifying the type of surface your wall has. Is it plaster, drywall, wood, or another material? Each type may require a different approach in prepping and priming, more especially if it's a textured wall.

Checking for Damages and Repairs

Examine your walls for any damages such as cracks, dents, or holes. You'll need to repair these before wallpapering. Damaged areas can be fixed using spackling compound or a sandpaper for smaller imperfections. This step can help to create a smoother surface for wallpaper to adhere.

Testing for Wallpaper Adherence

To test how well the wallpaper will stick to your wall, you might wish to do an adhesion test. This involves applying a small piece of wallpaper and leaving it for a few days to see if it peels. If the wallpaper sticks properly, then your wall is ready for wallpapering. If not, consider using a primer or sealer.

Looking for Moisture Issues

Moisture can significantly affect the success of wallpapering. Check for any signs of moisture or mold as these might need to be professionally treated before wallpapering. To prevent future moisture issues, a vapor barrier might be needed.

Evaluating Painted Walls

If your walls are painted, particularly glossy or semi-gloss paint, they may need to be sanded to help the wallpaper stick better. However, be cautious not to sand old paint that may contain lead.

Detecting Loose Plaster

Walls made of plaster might sometimes have loose areas which should be reattached or replaced before wallpapering. You can tap on the wall, listening for hollow sounds as this suggests loose plaster.

Scoping Out Irregularities

Lastly, you should look for any abnormalities like bumps or rough areas which can distort the pattern of your wallpaper. These can be fixed by sanding to ensure a smoother surface to apply your wallpaper.

Thorough examination and prepping of your wall is a key aspect in achieving a high-quality finish. Once your wall is properly assessed and prepped, you're ready to proceed with the steps of wallpapering.

Tips for Cleaning and Dusting Your Walls

Before starting the wallpaper application process, it's essential to clean and dust your walls properly. Overlooking this step can lead to wallpaper not adhering to the wall properly, causing bubbles, peeling edges, and the dreaded 'orange peel' texture. Here are some practical tips to prepare your walls for wallpaper:

Dusting The Walls

Dusting is the first critical step in cleaning the walls. Use a broom or a dusting brush with a long handle to reach the high places. Sweep off the dust starting from the top and moving down to ensure that you don't miss any spots. For better results, you may also want to use a vacuum with a brush attachment that can remove dust from hard-to-reach areas.

Washing The Walls

Once dusting is complete, washing the walls to remove any grease or dirt marks is next. Prepare a mild cleaning solution with warm water and a few drops of dish soap. Don't use any abrasive cleaners that could damage your walls. Using a large sponge or a soft cloth, begin washing the walls from top to bottom, one small section at a time. Once you've washed a section, use a dry towel to pat it dry immediately to avoid any water stains or damage.

Repairing Any Wall Damage

After cleaning, inspect your walls for any damages like holes, cracks, or chipped paint, which are not conducive for wallpaper. Small holes can be filled using a premixed spackle, while a joint compound can fix larger damages. Once applied, let it dry then sand it down until it's smooth and blends in with the rest of the wall. Remember to dust off any residual debris before moving to the next step.

Applying the Wallpaper Primer

Now that your walls are clean, dust-free, and repaired, it's time to apply the wallpaper primer. This important step ensures better adhesion for the wallpaper and makes it easier to remove should you decide to change it in the future. Apply the primer using a roller and let it completely dry before beginning the wallpaper installation process.

Allowing the Walls to Dry

Before you start applying the wallpaper, ensure the walls are completely dried from the washing and priming processes. Any moisture can affect the adhesive of the wallpaper and lead to bubbly or uneven finishes. Depending on the climatic conditions, the drying process might take a few hours to a couple of days. Patience is the key here.

By following these tips, your walls will be well-prepared for a beautiful wallpaper application. Remember, taking your time in preparation can save you from potential headaches in the application process.

Repairing Walls: Fixing Cracks and Holes

When it comes to installing wallpaper, the preparation of the wall is just as important as the application of the wallpaper itself. A crucial part of that preparation involves repairing any defects in the wall such as cracks and holes.

Materials Needed

To effectively repair your walls, you will need a few key materials:

  • Joint compound
  • Sanding sponge
  • Drywall knife
  • Paint primer

Fixing Wall Cracks

Start by inspecting the wall surface for any cracks. Minor wall cracks are common in many homes and can be fixed easily.

Use your drywall knife to apply a thin layer of joint compound into the crack. Allow it to dry completely. Once dried, lightly smooth the surface using the sanding sponge. Repeat the process until the wall is even.

Repairing Holes

Small to medium-sized holes in the wall can also be repaired easily. To fix a hole, apply the joint compound around the hole and overlap it onto the wall. Let it dry. Repeat this process several times until the wall surface around the hole is flush.

Large holes might require a patch. Cut a piece of drywall to fit the hole and adhere it with joint compound. Once dried, cover the drywall patch with more compound and sand it down to blend with the rest of the wall.

Final Touches

After all cracks and holes are repaired and the wall surface is smooth, apply a coat of paint primer to the wall. This allows the wallpaper adhesive to bond more effectively.

Also, make sure to remove any dust residue from sanding before installing your wallpaper. A clean, smooth and flaw-free wall surface is essential for a successful wallpaper application.

Primer Application: The Importance and Procedure

Applying primer, while not the most visually appealing part of redecorating, is a critical step that should not be overlooked when preparing walls for wallpaper. A primer acts as a bridge between the wall and the wallpaper, ensuring that the wallpaper adheres securely to the wall with a smooth, professional looking finish. This section will discuss the main reasons for priming your walls and how to do it for the best results.

Why Use Primer?

You might be thinking - why can't I just apply the wallpaper right onto my wall? The answer lies primarily in the durability and finish of your wallpaper. Untreated walls, especially those that are porous, may lead to premature peeling of the wallpaper or uneven coloring. Conversely, excessively glossy surfaces may cause the wallpaper to slide or not stick properly.

Primer solves these problems. Here are some other reasons why you should consider applying primer:

  • Adhesion: Primers enhance the paper’s ability to stick to the wall, giving a more long-lasting finish.
  • Mildew Resistance: They can offer protection against moisture and in turn, mold and mildew.
  • Easy to remove: Quality primer makes the wallpaper easier to strip off when it comes time to change decors.

How to Apply Primer the Right Way?

Now that you understand the importance of primer, let's dive into the correct method of application.

Step 1: Ensure the Surface is Clean

Before you start applying primer, make sure the surface of your wall is clean and dust-free. Any dirt or grime on it can affect the performance of the primer. Cleaning can be done using a damp cloth.

Step 2: Use the Right Primer

It's essential to know the type of wall surface you're working with and use a primer specifically designed for that surface. For example, for plaster walls, a universal primer might be the best choice.

Step 3: Applying the Primer

Using a brush or recommended tool, apply the primer in even thickness across the wall. Start from the top and work your way over the entire surface. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on dry times before proceeding to the next step – laying the wallpaper.

With the primer effectively applied on the wall, it will ensure a longer-lasting and professional-looking finish, ultimately making the wallpaper project a success.

Tips for Smooth Surface: Sanding and Leveling

Before you can start hanging your new wallpaper, it is important that you take necessary steps to prepare your walls. A smooth, flat wall surface is essential for best results. This can be achieved through proper sanding and leveling of your walls. If you miss this step, you may end up with bubbling wallpaper, visible seam lines, and unsightly ridges and bumps in your paper. Let's go through the proper steps to prepare your wall surface.

Assess the Wall

Start by taking the time to assess your walls for any dents, bumps, or deposits of old wallpaper residue or paint. If your wall surface has just been plastered, it is critical to wait until it is completely dry before any sanding can take place.

Sanding the Wall

The next step is sanding. For this process, you'll need a good quality sandpaper or a power sander for larger areas. Be sure to wear a dust mask to prevent inhalation of fine dust particles. Begin sanding in a circular motion, applying even pressure to ensure the wall is smooth and residue-free. It's important to take your time and not rush this step.

The Importance of Dust-free Surfaces

After sanding, it's crucial to wipe down the walls to remove any dust or debris as these can interfere with the adhesion of your wallpaper. A damp cloth or vacuum with a brush attachment will suffice.


If your wall has holes, dents or uneven surfaces, you'll need to level them out. A pre-mixed levelling compound is ideal for this. Simply apply the compound into the hole or over the dent using a filling knife, smooth out the surface with a straight edge, and leave to dry. Once dry, sand the area until it's flush with the wall surface.

Checking for Smoothness

Once you have finished sanding and filling, run your hand over the wall to feel for any imperfections that might have been missed. Another way to check the smoothness of your surface is by shining a light side-on to the wall. Any bumps or dips will be highlighted.

Just remember, the key to a perfectly wallpapered wall lies in the preparation. As the old adage goes, 'Fail to prepare – prepare to fail', so take your time in prepping your walls – the final look will be worth it.

Final Checks Before Applying Wallpaper

Upon completing the preparatory process for the installation of wallpaper, it is imperative to perform a final check to ensure that the walls are perfectly ready for the new covering. Carrying out these last few steps will safeguard against potential issues down the line and help to guarantee a flawless finish.

1. Examine the Wall Surface

Double-check the wall surface for any lingering imperfections. Look out for inconsistencies such as bulges, dips, or roughness. These flaws can interfere with the uniformity of the wallpaper application. If you notice any irregularities, smooth them out with sandpaper or fill them in using a premix joint compound. Let any new fillings dry completely and sand them down to a smooth finish before proceeding.

2. Ensure Cleanliness

A clean wall is crucial for the wallpaper adhesion. Dust particles, grime, or grease on the wall will prevent the wallpaper paste from sticking properly. Wipe the walls with a damp cloth or sponge to remove any dust and allow them to dry fully before the application of the wallpaper.

3. Confirm Wall Dryness

Before you start wallpapering, ensure all the walls are completely dry. Whether you've used a primer, sealer or you've just cleaned the walls, applying wallpaper on a damp surface can cause problems such as bubbling or peeling off sooner than expected.

4. Check Lighting

Good lighting is essential when applying wallpaper to ensure that the paper adheres smoothly and evenly. If the room's natural light is insufficient, bring in extra lamps or light fixtures.

5. Prepare Tools and Supplies

Ensure that all your wallpapering tools and supplies are at hand. Any interruptions during the process can disrupt the consistency of the application and can cause the wallpaper paste to dry out.

6. Measure and Cut the Wallpaper

Before applying the wallpaper, measure the walls accurately and pre-cut your wallpaper strips according to those measurements. Remember to allow for an extra 2 inches at the top and bottom for trimming.

7. Check the Pattern Match

If your wallpaper has a pattern, it is advisable to double-check the pattern match before starting. Patterns should line up accurately across the seams of the wallpaper strips to ensure an attractive, cohesive look.

8. Spirit Level Check

Lastly, use a spirit level to mark out your first wallpaper strip to ensure it's perfectly vertical. A crooked first strip can throw off the entire wallpaper application.

Applying wallpaper can be a challenging task, but taking the time to thoroughly prepare and check your walls can make the process much smoother and give you a beautiful result that lasts for years.