How hard is wallpapering, really? An amateur gives it a go
My dad was an expert at putting those sticky clear contact covers on our school books. And whilst I'd never displayed such talent before (as numerous wonky, bubble-filled iPhone protectors will attest) a part of me did hope that his sure-handed gene had passed down to me and was just waiting to manifest.
Wallpapering a 4m by 9m wall was a good test. The room in question was in the staff room at rural Wainui School, north west of Auckland. The room was a dark space and the teachers were keen to have a bit of life and light brought into it, so Homed stepped in to help.
Now, having not one clue about what was required for wallpapering I did what any other millennial would do and googled it. Then I YouTubed it. Then I went on to Resene's website and skim read their guide to wallpapering. They all gave me different advice: start from the middle, start from the corner, soak the paper, paste the wall. It was, to say the least, a bit overwhelming.
I really (really) didn't want to leave the 20 hardworking school staff members with peeling, wonky, bubble-filled paper. So using a combination of all the advice I'd garnered I came up with my own plan (#girlboss) and checked it out with a Resene colour expert before the big day just in case.
The wallpaper the teachers at Wainui had selected (Resene Intenz) was, thankfully, paste the wall. This meant no pre-soaking was required and I didn't have to paste the wallpaper, fold it up, let it rest and then try stick it to the wall. Instead I pasted the wall first, then put the paper up.
Once I'd firmly set in my mind exactly how I was going to do it, the next nerve-inducing obstacle was to get the first sheet of wallpaper hung straight. If it's not then the paper will start to run diagonally down the wall and you can imagine how awful that would look with a bold pattern such as this one.
Thankfully from the bowels of dad's toolshed we unearthed a plumb (this is a metal weight tied to a long string). Its sole purpose is to give you a straight line from the ceiling to the floor. And that's what it did.
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Now, lets talk about this pattern. My advice to wallpaper newbies is when you're doing your first wall, avoid pattern matching at all costs. It wasn't unachievable but it did make for a slightly stressful first time, especially when you've got a whole room of teachers watching you during morning tea.
For some strange reason (it is because it stretches with the weight of the glue?) a matched pattern at the top doesn't necessarily mean a matched pattern at the bottom. This requires a little not-so-gentle force on the paper to try and move it to the correct position.
The middle area of the wall was actually the hardest part to do. Four metres is a lot of wall to paste and a lot of wallpaper to manhandle. The wall had two large windows at either end, so it made sense to start in the middle and work outwards.
Working around the windows was easier as it's less space to cover and match.
Going around electric sockets, again, was easier than first thought and out of a grand total of six I think I nailed half. Here I would like to extend my apologies to Wainui school for the three sockets that aren't up to standard (although unnoticeable if you don't look too closely).
The top thing I learned? When the paper has been in contact with the glue for a while it gets soft, which makes it harder to cut without ripping it. To get over this hurdle, a straight edge up against the edge you need to trim and a decisive cut will do the trick. Or just don't leave the wallpaper on the glue for too long without cutting it. And while we're on that topic, always use a straight edge when cutting, don't assume you can trim in a straight line freehand, you can't.
Overall I was pleased with myself. It may have been the exhaustion setting in, but it actually looked alright to me. The teachers were happy, which really was the whole point, and the paper did give the room a bit more life.
I think one child at the school summed it up pretty well; "Hey guys," she yelled to her friends from the staff room door, "Come and look at the staff room, it actually looks interesting now."
Pretty darn happy.