Prepping the Wall before Wallpapering

Prepping a wall before you begin the actual wallpapering is a very important step to ensure that your wallpaper adheres to the wall properly. Not only that, it also ensures that removing it in future is easier should you decide to change the wallpaper then. Vinyl-acrylic sizing is applied to the wall like paint to prep it. This coat of vinyl-acrylic of sizing dries quickly and leaves a somewhat tacky consistency. It assures adhesion of the paper to the wall and facilitates easier removal of the paper even after years later.


Wallpapering is not as difficult a task to do as most people think. It does however, take a bit more effort especially if it comes to trying to wallpaper the ceiling itself (if you choose to do so). Always remember to use the appropriate tool for the job, and keep your tools in tip top shape so that you don\’t risk injury or compromise your own safety. For instance blades should be kept sharp as dull blades will require excessive force and can prove to be dangerous as you can slip and hurt yourself.

Always remember to wear safety goggles or glasses when you are using power tools to protect your eyes. When sanding or working with chemicals, always use a respirator or face mask. When operating power tools, wear ear protection and tie back loose hair to avoid it getting caught in power tools. Also make sure that you wear the appropriate clothing so that they don\’t get caught in power tools.

Always unplug power tools when you\’re making adjustments or changing attachments and when you\’re no longer using them. Store them away when not in use to keep your work space un-cluttered. All tools must be grounded and ensure that any power cord of cable is placed in a manner that will not hinder the way it works, or placed in a way so that anyone in the area will not trip and hurt themselves over it.


  • Safety glasses or goggles
  • Respirator or face mask
  • Ear protectors
  • Rubber gloves
  • Pry bar
  • Paint scraper
  • Fan
  • Hand sanding block
  • Orbital sander
  • Screwdriver
  • Putty knife
  • Sponge
  • Rags


  • Spackle (compound)
  • Fine-grit sandpaper (100-120-grit Aluminum Oxide or Production)
  • Detergent and ammonia or tri-sodium phosphate (TSP)
  • Self-adhesive drywall tape
  • Primer or adhesive pad
  • Sizing or vinyl preparation liquid (for wallpapering)


  1. Clean the wall and make sure that it is free of dust or debris.
  2. If the wall has been painted with an oil-based paint, treat it with TSP or a de-glosser so that the paper will adhere to the wall better.
  3. Apply an oil-based primer for an untreated new wall or a latex paint-coated wall before you start papering. The wall should also be primed.
  4. Spot-primed areas with fresh wallboard or spackling compound.

Note: While it is tempting to just wallpaper over existing old wallpaper, remember that papers will fall off when there\’s a wet sheet on top of them. You should remove the old wallpaper so that the new one will adhere to the wall well.

Below lists some Do\’s and Don\’ts when prepping for paperhanging:

The Do\’s

  • Always remember to follow manufacturer\’s instructions for mixing any chemical or compound.
  • Make sure that you choose the appropriate primer/sealer. A primer/sealer is an oil- or acrylic-based coating which is designed to be used under wallcovering and acts as a sealant on the porous surfaces prior to hanging.
  • If you find holes, cracks and joints on the wall, make sure to repair them as per required. Any peeling paint should be removed with a scraper, and crack/holes should be patched with compound to repair them. Clean greasy or dirty areas and apply a primer/sealer to any newly patched areas.
  • For better adherence of the paper to the wall, glossy or semi-glossy surfaces should be sanded prior to wallpapering.
  • It is recommended that you paint any surface before wallpapering such as ceiling, trim, or doors, then start on your wallpapering to avoid splattered paint.

The Don\’ts

  • Do not hurry your project. You should take time to prep your wall so that you have a satisfactory end result. Skimping on tools or materials and not taking the time to prepare your wall properly will lead to a shoddy result.
  • As mentioned above, do not hang new wallpaper over existing wallpaper. If removing the old wallpaper will damage the wall, you need to still try to remove any other parts that are not adhered too tight to the wall.

Prepping your wall before you begin the actual wall papering is very important to ensure that your wallpaper will be hung in the proper manner and will adhere well to its surface. There is nothing more frustrating than to finish your project only to find out a week after signs of peeling or bubbling because steps on prepping the wall were skimped in order to make time.

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