When wallpaper is new and in good shape it can add a lot of depth, richness and character to a room. On the flip side though, if it is nicked, torn, or falling down it can make a room look pretty run down no matter how nice everything else in the space may be. Repairing, patching, and maintaining your wallpaper is a great way to fix up the appearance of any room that may have old paper that is showing some signs of wear.
When you are getting ready to work with wallpaper you’ll want to make sure that you have all of your tools within arm’s reach before you begin. Once you get paste or glue on the wall, you don’t want to have to run back to the garage to get “just one more thing.” Here’s a pretty good list of tools that you’ll want to have on hand before you begin your wallpaper patching project.
Knife: Make sure it is sharp. A utility knife with a brand new blade or a box cutter with a sharp point will probably work best. Make sure that the blades are in good condition or else they will just tear the paper instead of cutting it. Clean cuts are essential for good seams.
Seam Sealer: Seam sealer is a special kind of glue for wallpaper. It is typically a little bit stickier than the regular paste and is great for sticking down stubborn edges or seams that want to curl up.
Paste: Most wallpaper these days comes pre-pasted, but if you are doing repair work it’s a good idea to have a small container of paste on site. You may need to pull away portions of paper in order to put a patch in place, and you’ll need the paste to reapply the paper that you pulled off.
Smoother: A tool to help you smooth any air bubbles out of the paper is vital. Some installers prefer to use a dense sponge, while others use a hard plastic tool with a rounded edge. Use whichever you are the most comfortable with.
Once you’ve got all of your tools together, its time to get started.
If you have a simple tear, say at an edge or a seam where the paper wasn’t sticking well, then you can typically fasten it right back down using the seam sealer. If you lay the paper back into place carefully and use light pressure with the smoother then you shouldn’t even be able to see the place where the paper was torn.
If a section of paper was actually torn away and is no longer attached then you have several options. The first solution, and probably the ideal one, is that you have some scraps or an extra roll of paper laying around from when the job was originally done. If this is the case then you can use your knife to cut out a nice clean edge and use the scrap roll to cut a patch that matches the pattern. Use the paste to place the replacement piece in the spot where the old paper was torn away. It is typically easier to make this kind of repair if you pull away the original paper from the wall and apply the patch underneath. That way you can cut around the outside of the hole and are left with a nice clean seam that should be as close to invisible as you can get with a patch.
If you don’t have extra paper, then you’ll need to do your best to salvage the piece that was torn away. The edges can’t be cut clean (because this would leave the piece to small) but you should be able to use the seam sealer to glue it back into place. Though the edges will be a little rough from the tear, this is the best way to patch paper when you don’t have clean stock to work with.
In some cases, you may find that it is easier to replace an entire sheet. If you have lots of knick or scuffs and you have the extra paper, then this may be the best option. Be very careful when removing the original paper so that you don’t damage the sheet on either side. Once you’ve got it off, wash any remaining paste residue off of the wall and apply the new sheet according to the instructions on the paste bucket. Don’t be frustrated if the new paper overlaps the old a little bit. It will shrink as the glue dries and should line up perfectly.