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Confessions of a one-time wallpaper hanger

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This column appeared in the first 2019 edition of Our Country Home, part of a larger story about wallpaper making a come back.

I don’t hang wallpaper normally.

In fact, I did it only once a quarter-century ago-and will never ever again, even if I’m bribed with homemade chocolate pie. Plus, my memories have thankfully faded with time. Mostly. I do know I was young and stupid. And nobody else was offering to hang it for me, which should have been a clue right there.

Here’s my advice if you’re doing it the “old-fashioned way.”

First, make any necessary repairs to the wall; don’t use coverings to hide cracked plaster.

Steam off old paper. Buy more paper than you think you need, so you can match patterns. Then, read the instructions on the wallpaper paste container. We had a bucket of the stuff, so we didn’t have to mix it ourselves. If you’re smart, you’ll take off any trim. The roll goes on vertically, not horizontally. Measure your wall, cut out the appropriate length and put it upside down on a table to apply paste. (Do not paste the paper to the table).

Then—and this is the fun part—transfer the pasty wallpaper to the wall and fling it on. Well, use more finesse. Look it up on the internet; there are tutorials.

I had to use the Reader’s Digest do-it-yourself book because a useful internet didn’t exist. Back then, we hung wallpaper uphill both ways. I just started at one side of the door and pasted up a strip. When you stick on another strip, overlap a little so there aren’t any gaps. Make sure your patterns match.

After you hang each strip, use a smoother, pushing from the center out to get rid of bubbles. Best advice? Get someone else to do it., or use one of these newfangled papers, but make sure it’s repositionable.

Anyone can hang wallpaper, but few people can do it well. 

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