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5 common wallpaper problems and how to solve them
Home Flair Decor 14 July 2021

5 common wallpaper hanging problems and how to solve them

So, you have decided to wallpaper but your results are not quite how you expected them to be.. You’re seeing air bubbles across the feature wall and the other wallpaper won't quite stick!

Don’t worry, these problems can be common to inexperienced wallpaper hangers so hold off heading to google and read on to find the solutions to your issue.

Here at Home Flair Decor we are experts in wallpaper, paints and home decor. We’re a dynamic online store run by an experienced retail team of interior experts who live and breathe wallpaper.

So, let’s move quickly and start addressing the most common wallpaper hanging problems and of course give you our expert advice on how to solve them.

How to stop your wallpaper from curling?

If your wallpaper is curling up at the seams it is probably due to an adhesive issue, well usually a lack of or the wrong type for your chosen wallcovering.

Always use the type of wallpaper paste or adhesive specified by the manufacturer, this will be noted in the hanging instructions on the roll label or marked clearly on our own product pages.

Now you’ve got the right type of adhesive, ensure this is applied evenly to the back of your wallcovering - right to the edges or a section just wider than the roll width if you are using the paste the wall technique.

If you see edge curl start to happen whilst you are applying paste/adhesive to the reverse of your wallcovering on the paste table, make sure you’ve covered right over the edges.

Once you're happy this is the case and you've completed pasting one half of the length, after folding the wallpaper back onto itself (pasted side to pasted side) roll this up again up towards the centre of the length.

After completing the second half, roll this up so it just about meets the first half you can then set this aside for the adhesive to soak in. If it is a warm day, pop your rolled up length into a plastic bag to reduce evaporation.

See our guide to perfect pasting here 

This will stop the edges separating whilst the soaking process takes place, ensuring even expansion and stop the adhesive on the edges drying out prematurely.

If the temperature of the room is high or it’s a hot day this will affect the hanging results. Turn off any radiators/heat sources or try to cool the room down, you don't really want any drafts or fast flowing air in the space as this may encourage the wallpaper to dry too fast and cause contraction (shrinkage) so if the weather is too warm perhaps delay your wallpapering for a day or two.

At all times try to work efficiently, try not to fuss with the wallpaper after application i.e peeling off to straighten up the wallpaper as it will be drying out whilst you do this.

If you get a little curl on the wall and the edges seem dry to the touch, open up the joint/roll edge and run a small brush with paste/adhesive down the back of the seam. Making sure not to get any on the surface, this will need some time to soak in to the wallpaper before you push it down flat again.

How to get rid of air bubbles in your wallpaper?

It is quite common when wallpapering to get air bubbles trapped under your wallpaper but again no need to worry, we have some expert advice perfect to leave your walls bubble-free!

Primarily you’ll see air bubbles in wallpaper when you’ve not quite smoothed them all out during application. In the future or when you are next wallpaper hanging use a proper wallpaper hanging brush.

A sponge or cloth does not give you the same control and can lead to an excess of air bubbles remaining trapped.

When you use the wallpaper hanging brush, apply a gentle pressure and work from the centre of the wallpaper length outwards. Use large sweeping motions that reach the edge of the wallpaper length allowing the air to leave at the joint and also smoothing these butt joints flat.

If you’ve spotted a couple of small bubbles after putting away your decorating tools and equipment? You’re safe to leave these alone and they should slowly dry flat over the space of a week or so.

Got larger bubbles? If you’ve got some larger air pockets try smoothing these away towards the seam or joint to allow the air to escape. If the edges have dried already, you can take some more drastic action to pop the bubble.

A sharp knife or a pin can be used to puncture the wallpaper surface in the centre of the bubble, this will now allow the air to escape with a little persuasion in the form of gentle pressure, working from the outer edge to the centre of the pocket.

Should any adhesive begin to appear after evacuation the air, remove this from the surface immediately using the advice from the rolls hanging instructions.

Any other lumps or bumps you may see after hanging are likely down to insufficient preparation, things like creases from insufficient soaking, dirt, chips of paint or holes will affect the final finish.

What to do if your old wallpaper won't come off the walls?

Trying to remove stubborn wallpaper from your walls can be frustrating and time consuming! But it is important to remove any old wallpaper properly to prevent damaging the walls you are looking to rejuvenate.

We are going to talk you through exactly how to remove that wallpaper professionally. Start by laying down polythene/plastic protective dust sheets in the room to protect your floor. Lay an old towel/blankets over the plastic sheets as old wallpaper can take a lot of water to remove sometimes.

If you can peel away any patterned/textured/vinyl layer of wallpaper to expose the base layer this will help tremendously. If this will not come away, use a scoring tool to puncture holes in the wallpaper, press the scoring tool into the wallpaper surface to create as many small punctures as possible.

Go over the whole wall until it is covered in holes. Use a good pressure on the tool to create the perforations but not too heavy that these will be made into the plaster wall beneath.

Now it is time to head to the kitchen and fill your largest bucket with hot water, ensuring the water is comfortable to touch before continuing. Now mix your water with some wallpaper stripping solution, this highly foaming substance will allow moisture to remain on the wall surface for longer.

The solution should be mixed using the ratio stated on the product, keep the water warm as you work by topping up with hot water whenever necessary.

Head back to your wall and soak the entire wall with this solution, using a block brush you could also use a spray bottle or a sponge but this may offer fewer bubbles to the wall. You really want to saturate the surface so a couple of coats will set you off on a good start, leave the solution to soak into the paper for about 10-15 minutes. If this has dried out too much upon return, repeat and come back in a shorter time.

Now it is time to start removing the wallpaper, grab a stripping knife (a more flexible alternative to a filling knife) and begin at the bottom of the wall, and work your way up removing the paper one strip at a time.

If the underlying layer is still difficult to remove, soak it again with your solution and allow this to saturate and soften the previous paste/adhesive then continue to scrape gently until it is all gone.

Hanging a pattern upside down

Learning to hang patterned wallpaper can take some practice and a lot of attention to detail in order to get right. It is more common than you that people end up hanging their wallpaper upside down.

So, here are a few tips on how to avoid this common wallpaper problem.

Don’t assume the pattern comes off the roll as it should be hung! Production methods vary around the world and mean the pattern may appear to be “upside down” if you put the roll against your skirting board and unroll up to the ceiling to measure your first drop length.

Mark the back of the wallpaper. Draw the letter T on the back of your wallpaper, so it is obvious during hanging that when the letter is upside down so is the length . Do this with every strip you want to hang or you could end up with some mix matched patterns or uneven colour.

Most patterns have a few clues to help determine the direction such as;

Nature inspired designs- find a flower, tree or bird... Where it is positioned should indicate the correct flow of the pattern .

Flowers and floral trail designs- the flowers should grow upwards, as if to the natural sunlight.

Bird designs- birds perch on branches to sit in the trees and don’t swing like bats upside down.

Damask designs - central blooms grow upwards and surrounding acanthus leaves grow up and tend to fall back onto themselves as if they are heavy.

You can always call us to query a hanging direction on our products, the wallpaper images on the website will also help you discover this if it is out of contact hours.

Wallpaper tearing when trimming

Wallpaper is a skilled craft and although TV personalities may make it look easy, professionals and experienced DIYers will tell you it takes practice to master this skill.

Therefore, common problems like the ones mentioned will inevitably occur but what is important is knowing what to do next and how to solve them.

So, let’s tackle wallpapers tearing when trimming them as the next problem. Wallpaper (traditional, not non-woven) is a natural pulp based product, this will naturally become soft when hanging due the absorption of your moisture rich paste, so it is important that you know what you are doing when trimming to avoid the paper tearing.

Grab a paper hanging brush and carefully press the paper as tight as you can into a corner/where the top of the wall meets the ceiling or the wallpaper meets the skirting boards. Test if you can run your fingernail along the crease you’ve now made into the corner/ceiling or skirting, if your nail penetrates the wallpaper surface the wallpaper is too soft to cut with a knife or blade.

Traditionally you would now use a pencil to gently mark along the crease, be as gentle as you can if the wallpaper has become particularly soft. With a good long pair of decorating scissors in hand, peel back the wallpaper away from the wall enough to freely access the pencil mark with the scissors.

Slowly and precisely trim the wallpaper length along your pencil line, try to use long continuous cuts without leaving a jagged edge between snips. Once complete, smooth the length back to the wall using your paper hanging brush to ensure good contact and minimise air bubbles.

Use a clean damp cloth/sponge to carefully remove any excess adhesive from the adjoining surface i.e the ceiling or the woodwork before continuing on to hang the next length of wallpaper.

If you were able to form a crease in the wallcovering with your finger nail? You should be able to use a snap-off knife with a sharp blade in, taking care to run this along the crease in situ and not cutting yourself.

If this cannot trim the excess in a clean sweep and you find the wallpaper tries to pull or tear, revert to the above method. If this worked well for you, keep the blade sharp by snapping off a small section after every couple of lengths hung for best results, you can even combine this with a metal straight edge to keep your fingers away from the blade whilst applying even pressure into the crease you’re cutting.

We hope these tips really help you overcome these decorating teething problems and allow you to prosper into a confident wallpaper hanger!

View our collection of decorating tools on our website