There's more to wallpaper than meets the eye

So you're going to tackle that wallpapering job this fall! If you're just a beginner, you'd better tackle a small wallpaper project first. In other words, pick a room or area with few doors, windows, bends, nooks , and crannies.

Then figure out how much paper you need for the job. It's best to be on the safe side, so do not skimp on the measure-ments.

You're a lot better off if you have some paper left over than if you try to match a pattern later on. Incidentally, after buying the paper, check each roll for defects, and always keep the ''run'' number, which is printed on the back of the paper or package, so that if necessary you can reorder the correct dye lots in the future.

An average roll covers about 30 square feet of wall, even though the roll contains 36 square feet. The rest is for cutting and matching. You should get 4 to 6 whole strips from each bolt, depending on the height of the area to be papered.

Measure the length around the room in feet, multiply this figure by the height from the baseboard to the ceiling, and then divide by 30 to get the number of single rolls. Deduct one roll for every two openings, such as windows , doors, or a fireplace.

Here's an example: If a room measures 12 feet wide, 15 feet long, and 8 feet high, the perimeter (distance around) is 54 feet by 8 feet - or 432 square feet. Divided by 30, that means you will need 14 1/2 rolls of paper.

Assuming you have two windows and two doors, deduct two rolls for the four openings and you end up with 12 1/2 rolls. Another method of subtraction is to measure all the openings in the room and deduct one roll for every 30 square feet of opening.

Most mail-order catalogs featuring wallpapers have a table for making your computations. You may find a slight variation in papers because of the ''drop, '' or distance needed to match hanging patterns on the wall.

If you're not buying a prepasted paper, make sure you get enough paste for the complete job. The dealer should be able to compute the paste requirements. The kind of glue or adhesive depends on the paper you choose. Be certain to use heavy-duty adhesive for pure vinyl, wheat-germ paste for regular paper, and cellulose paste for delicate paper.

The tools you need depend on the type of paper. If you decide to use prepasted paper, you won't need paste, but you will have to buy a water tray or pan. With paste, you'll need a plum bob and chalkline, at least a 2-foot carpenter's level, wide paste brush, scraper, seam roller, one-edge razor, yardstick, a bucket for rinse water, and a paste pail.

Most home-remodeling centers have inexpensive papering kits.

Before cutting the first strip of paper, make sure the wall is ready for the job.

Repair all cracks by using fiber-glass-resin patch kits, or try taping and troweling as you would to fill the seams in a sheetrock wall. Fill all large holes with patch plaster and small holes with spackle. Sand the walls lightly and seal them with shellac.

Applying wallpaper to new sheetrock walls requires a good sealer first. Thin the sanding sealer with mineral spirits in a ratio of one quart of thinner to each gallon of sanding sealer. A good seal allows easy paper removal later.

Oil-painted walls don't need a sealer. Simply wash the surface with a good detergent. A solution of one part of ammonia to six parts of water will easily remove a high gloss. But if the walls have a low-quality latex paint, be sure to size them first. You can also size wood and previously papered walls. The glue size stops the rapid blotting of adhesives.

Don't remove firmly attached paper. Just sand the seams and wash off any oil or grease. In case of peeling, however, or if there are two or more layers of paper on the wall, remove the old paper. Soak the layers with warm water and vinegar and use a putty knife to remove any stubborn sections.

To strip off old wall cloth, first loosen a corner with a knife and pull the loosened section diagonally, either up or down. To make the job easier you can rent a steamer. When you complete the removal chore, wash away any stains with detergent and warm water. A little turpentine on a rag will remove grease, wax, and stains. Then wash the walls with soap and water.

Before you paper, refinish any woodwork with paint, stain, or varnish. Allow the paint or stain to overlap a little onto the wall around the woodwork to get a neat finish after you trim the paper.

When hanging the paper, a good starting point is a door frame. Measure out from the frame one inch less than the width of the paper to establish a plumb line - or straight vertical line. On 27-inch rolls, this line is at the 26-inch mark to the right of the starting point.

Chalk a piece of string the length of the wall, tie a weight at one end, and tack the other end to the 26-inch mark at the ceiling line. Hold the string taut; then snap it to get the vertical line.You can also use a plumb bubble on a two-foot carpenter's level to draw the plumb line with a pencil.

Next, measure the height of the wall from ceiling to baseboard and cut a strip 4 inches longer than the actual height.

If you're using prepasted papers, try a small scrap before starting to see if the paste is sufficient to hold the paper to the wall. If not, you may need to brush some extra paste onto the wall.Also before hanging, test-sponge a small face area of the paper to see if you can remove any excess paste fairly easily. Some flock finishes are hard to sponge clean. This test tells you how careful you must be in the hanging process.

With prepasted paper you will need to pull the paper through a water tray or pan, which is available at wallpaper shops.Half-fill the tray with lukewarm water and place it against the baseboard. Take the first strip, roll loosely with the pattern side in, and immerse the strip in the water for roughly a minute. Some flocked papers should soak about 90 seconds.

Hold the top of the strip and pull gently, unrolling the strip from the water tray and stepping up the ladder at the same time. Hang the right edge of the strip exactly on the plumb line.

Allow two inches for trimming top and bottom. Using the wide paperhanger's smoothing brush or a wet cellulose sponge, smooth the paper both upward and downward, being sure to get rid of all wrinkles and bubbles. Don't be afraid to press or brush firmly to secure the paper to the wall. If necessary you can even slide the paper to the correct position. Using a one-edge razor or sharp linoleum knife, trim the paper at the top and bottom and around the door frame. To get a good fit around the top corner of the frame, carefully make a 45-degree cut from the outside of the paper to the point of the frame. Then gently snug the paper to fit. Immediately after hanging each strip, sponge off any excess paste.

Then move the water tray under the area where the next strip will go and repeat the process. Match the pattern exactly. For best results butt the left edge of the second strip to the right end on the wall and roll the seam.

Caution: Vinyl papers will stretch but will pull back to their original size when dry, leaving a gap at the seams. So be careful in your efforts to fit and match seams. First attempts to hide the butt seam and match the pattern design are difficult, but practice and patience will turn out a professional effort.

In hanging unpasted paper, make sure to use the manufacturer's suggested adhesive paste. Unroll, match, and cut three strips to the wall size with a 2 -inch top and bottom overlap.

When applying the mixed paste (use slightly less water than called for on the package), lay two sheets side by side face down, with the third strip running down the middle of the first two.

Now you can brush the paste past the edges of the center strip and allow any excess to go over onto the other sheets. Start at the center and work to the ends. Fold the pasted half toward the center, paste to paste (don't crease). Paste and fold the second half.

Apply this pasted strip's right edge parallel to the plumb line already drawn. Trim, wash, and clean. Then apply the next strips to the right edge the same way you would if you were using the prepasted paper.

As you come to any electrical switches and outlets, press the paper lightly into place and cut an ''X'' over the receptacle center. All outlets and heating-duct covers should have been removed. Cut away enough of the ''X'' to allow the outlet to function and to permit the screws to hold the faceplate in place. Be careful not to overcut.

For window openings let the paper overlap the opening. Then fold the paper carefully to the edge of the molding trim. Press the paper against the molding with the rectangle scraper (in your wallpapering kit). Cut the overlap at a 45 -degree angle (similar to the door-frame corner) to the corner of the molding. Cut away the rest of the window overlap.

If a tear occurs, paste a piece of scrap paper, matched exactly to the torn area, over the damaged part. Then use a sharp razor along a steel ruler to guide and cut through both layers of paper. Lift the torn section, paste, and press the patch into place for a perfect fit.

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