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Wallpaper Questions

Preparing previously papered walls for painting

Hi, I hope this isn’t a daft question. I’ve removed some old wallpaper, removed as much old paste as I can, filled holes and sanded them flush.

I’ve now read that I need to prime the walls for painting. Some people say to use watered down emulsion. Others say oil based primer. What would you recommend?



You shouldn’t need to prime the walls, a thinned coat of emulsion will do. Your biggest problem is going to be contamination from any existing wallpaper paste though, which should be thoroughly washed off before painting – no amount of priming is going to help you with this, just elbow grease and plenty of warm soapy water.

Sometimes it can be so difficult to remove that the only way around it is to line the walls before painting, but see how you go?

Residue on walls after stripping wallpaper

After stripping wallpaper from walls there is like a mapping effect all over the walls is it possible to get a thick emulsion to cover this without plastering or re wallpapering the walls



I may be jumping to the wrong conclusion but….

When you remove wallpaper a lot of the adhesive will remain on the wall. You need to wash this off with warm soapy water, then rinse with clear warm water and allow to dry.

This should get rid of the marks you are referring to?

Wallpaper the chimney breast or alcoves?

I’m looking to wallpaper a section of my living room. The wallpaper I have picked is striped. Would you recommend papering the chimney breast, on which there is a TV & a fake fire, or the alcoves either side?

I’m concerned that if I paper the chimney breast itself, the whole thing may look too “busy”



I agree that papering the alcoves is the best idea.

The added advantage is that you won’t have to deal with the corners of the chimney-breast; they are often not perfectly straight and this presents a real problem keeping stripes vertical, even for a professional.

Hope that helps?

Regards, Darren

8 thoughts on “Wallpaper Questions”

  1. Hi, a couple of years ago we had a whole room re plastered. We then put an emulsion wash over the walls – half water and half emulsion. A few months later the walls were wallpapered. We are now finding the wallpaper coming off, one strip has fallen completely down. This is a south facing room so quite warm. The decorator supplied his own paste. We suspect we’ll have to take all the paper off and start again but the decorator says it is all our fault and will not accept responsibility. He says we should’ve asked for the walls to be lined first. We didn’t know this. Any clues as to why this wallpaper drop might have happened?! It’s a costly experience!

    • I would guess that the walls were quite absorbent since you had only applied a wash rather than a regular paint coating. Subsequently this guy has come along and papered the walls and the adhesive has soaked into the wall thereby reducing its effectiveness?

      Now, you engaged someone you believed to be a professional to do the wallpapering and he is responsible for the defective workmanship, not you. The first thing he should have done would have been to check how absorbent the surface was and to treat appropriately before going any further. If there was an ‘idiots guide to wallpapering’ this would be on the first page.

      In theory, he is responsible for putting the works right at his own cost. You should give him an opportunity to do this, even though you may not want to, simply because it shows you’ve acted in good faith should you need to take legal action against him.

      Obviously, if he refuses this offer, or he accepts the opportunity but still makes a mess of it, then you’re entitled to engage someone else to do the work and claim all costs.

  2. My client has a very sentimental hand painted graffiti design on bedroom wall. He wants to seal/protect it. Then wallpaper over it. But must when needed back , strip the wallpaper and the original graffiti design not affected. Should I seal with a clear varnish before applying the wallpaper? And what paste is best to use?

    • There is no guarantee that the graffiti would remain intact but, yes, covering with a varnish should work.

      I would use an oil-based varnish to ensure that it isn’t affected by a water-based adhesive although this will result in a slight discolouration of the finish. You can mitigate this by using a polyurethane varnish rather than a traditional yacht varnish though. I would also wait a few weeks for the varnish to fully cure before wallpapering.

      Ideally, I would cross-line the walls using a ready-mixed heavy-duty adhesive. Then, when dry I would wallpaper using a traditional adhesive such as solvite or a ready-mixed paste, depending on the type of wallcovering.

      If the budget won’t run to lining then just use the ready-mixed adhesive directly. So long as the varnish has fully cured you shouldn’t have any problems with adhesion.

      Hope that helps?

    • You could use a thinned solution of pva or, alternatively, a thin solution of wallpaper paste. You may have to apply a couple of coats to get the best effect though. It should be virtually as thin as water, in both cases.

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