A Clean State: How to Prep Your Walls For Wallpaper

November 20 2019

Nothing makes a place feel fresh and new, like a wall over-haul. Are you bored with the wall colour? Sick of that wallpaper? Tired of flaking paint? Bring new life to any room with a wallpaper that fills you with joy and hides any past interior decor sins. The trick is in not letting these past mishaps get in the way of your fresh, new scheme by carefully prepping your walls for their metamorphosis.

How you prepare your walls will depend on their material, their condition and their texture. Knowing what you’re working with is crucial to achieving the best results! There are some materials you’ll need for most wall types, however, so you can get started on collecting them.

The basics
Sugar soap, which you apply and leave for 30 mins before rinsing it off, is a great way to clean your walls, but you can also work with a solution of white vinegar and warm water. For stubborn stains, grease marks or fingerprints, prepare a paste from baking soda and water which you can apply and let sit for a few minutes.

Stains that won’t come off with the vinegar solution are probably mildew-related. You can attack these with a mixture of water and bleach, followed by a combination of TSP (or a non-phosphate alternative) and water.

When it comes to walls which are a little worse for wear, textured walls or panelled wood, you’ll be relying on vinyl spackle and sandpaper, so keep them handy!

Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of prepping walls!

Prepping the room and surface
Whatever your wall-type, start by vacuuming the surface with a soft brush attachment and dusting it, ideally with an electrostatic dusting wipe. Take everything off the walls, turn off the circuits and remove any electrical faceplates and lighting fixtures.

Now that your room is truly a blank canvas, you’re ready to get started!

Wall Prep 101
If your wall is in good condition, simply wash it with your cleaning solution, then let it dry. Make sure not to use too much water when cleaning painted walls though. Your wall is wallpaper ready!

When faced with holes, dents or cracks, use a broad knife to apply vinyl spackle directly from the can, filling in any grooves. Let that dry, smooth it with wet sandpaper, then coat on your primer.

For lightly textured walls or flaky paint, you’ll need to sand down the whole surface first, then wash and prime it with acrylic.

Wood Panelling
Wash wooden surfaces with vinegar and water, then with a de-glossing solution for better adherence. Fill in the grooves between the panels with spackle, sand it all down, rinse the surface and then prime it.

Old Wallpaper
When replacing old wallpaper, you’ll get better results if you strip it first. This can be done by soaking it with wallpaper remover or steaming it. Wash the naked walls, fill in any grooves, sand it down, and rinse it. Finish it off with a coat of primer.


Heavily Textured Walls|
If your existing wall, wallpaper or wood panelling is highly textured, get yourself some lining paper to save immeasurable time and energy. Prep the wall as you would normally, hang the lining paper and prime that with acrylic. Let the primer dry and degas for 10 days and then you’re ready to wallpaper it!