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DECOR : Stick to Plan When Wallpapering

September 04, 1993|From Associated Press

In planning to wallpaper, keep in mind the space that you're decorating.

Vertical stripes will give an appearance of greater height. Small patterns are best in small areas, large patterns in large ones. A boldly patterned wall-covering will dominate a room, detracting from the furniture and accessories. Of course, it will also take your eye away from less-than-wonderful pieces.

How Much Paper You Should Buy

To determine how many rolls of wall-covering a room will need, add together the widths of its walls in feet and multiply by its height. This is your square footage. For a ceiling, multiply its length by its width. For a border, measure just the perimeter. Take these figures--with a count of the doors and windows in the room--to your dealer.

Most, but not all, wall-coverings are sold in double or triple rolls. Single rolls contain 36 square feet, which average 30 square feet after trimming waste and matching patterns. Paper with large pattern repeats won't give you as much. As a precaution, order more than you need so that all rolls will be from the same dye lot (color variations among lots can be significant).

Then unroll and inspect the entire length of each roll for defects before cutting. This is especially important for expensive coverings that represent a sizable investment.

Tools You Will Need

You can buy tools for wallpapering at a hardware store or rent them at a wall-covering store.

You'll need a pasting table (minimum 6 feet-by-3 feet), unless you are using a pre-pasted covering that can be applied directly from a water tray. Check the instructions that come with the wall-covering. If you don't want to rent a table, you can use a sheet of plywood set on sawhorses. Cover the surface with plastic or brown paper. Don't use newspapers--the ink will rub off and soil the wall-covering.

If you've chosen pre-pasted wall-covering, get an inexpensive plastic tray to hold water for activating the glue.

For other wall-coverings, you'll need a paste brush and bucket for applying paste. (Some people prefer a paint roller and tray.) If using a bucket, make a resting place for your sticky paste brush by slipping a straightened piece of wire coat hanger through the handle eyes on your pail. Then rest the bristles on the wire and the handle on the side of the bucket.

A plumb line--a length of string the height of the room, with some kind of weight on one end--will help you align the paper perfectly even if the walls are not perfect. Use colored chalk to coat the string. For a weight, many people use scissors, looping the string through both finger holes before tying it.

A metal ruler or straightedge measures and also acts as a guide for trimming salvages (the unprinted edges of some wall-coverings.) Using a long wallboard taping knife as a guide ensures clean cuts at baseboard and ceiling.

Use it with a craft knife or with single-edge razor blades. You'll need plenty of fresh blades; changing after every cut makes finer edges. Use sharp shears to cut the wall-covering off the roll.

A smoothing brush works out air bubbles. A brush with long, soft bristles is best for flocked or embossed coverings.

Short bristles work well for standard papers and vinyl. (Some people prefer a clean paint roller.) A seam roller provides adhesion where strips abut. Have a bucket half filled with water and a sponge on hand to clean up excess paste as you go.

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