Wallpaper Border Installation

DEAR MIKE: We want to dress up our baby's room with some accents and install wallpaper border around the top near the ceiling and around a door frame. We tried hanging wallpaper on a wall in the past and the results were disastrous. Please say that wallpaper border is easier. -- Jocelyn B.

DEAR JOCELYN: Wallpaper border is definitely easier and it takes a lot less time to complete the job. The border comes in a variety of different looks, so you can get whatever finished product you prefer. The edges of wallpaper borders come in straight or pattern, and you can stick them right to the wall or on top of other wallpaper (if you are going to stick a border on top of wallpaper, you will need to buy vinyl-to-vinyl adhesive). It's less frustrating to install border with a solid print, as you won't have to match up a pattern.

Wallpaper border, like regular wallpaper, typically comes prepasted. Try to find a border you like that is prepasted because spreading paste on paper is a real buzz kill.

If you are going to install the border at the ceiling, you won't have to mark any lines as the top of the border will go against the ceiling. However, if you plan to install border as a chair rail, you will need to break out a level and pencil and mark a level line around the perimeter of the room.

 You can choose how high up on the wall you want the border, but for chair rail, the standard is generally between 36 and 42 inches from the floor.

You will want to prime the wall with a wallpaper primer for good adhesion. This stuff looks a little milky and makes the surface tacky to the touch. You can roll it on with a small paint roller. When you roll this on the wall, try not to let it stray outside of where the border will be. If the sun hits the wall just right, the primer will show.

After the primer dries, you can install the border. Cut the border a few inches long. Fill the paper tray with water and set it at the end of a long, flat surface (a folding table or counter is good).

Loosely roll the paper inside out, so that the glue side faces outward. Dunk the roll in the water to get the glue wet. Next, unroll the paper slowly, and lay it on the flat surface glue side up.
Lightly fold the border's pasted side in, but do not crease it. Then fold in the edges, and let it "book" (wallpaper lingo for "rest") according to the manufacturer's recommendations (usually two to four minutes). This allows the paste to activate.

It is best to start in a corner, preferably one on the wall at the door side of the room (it will be least noticeable as you enter). Use lengths long enough so you don't have to splice a piece in the middle of the run. Overlap the corner by one-quarter inch and push the paper to the wall following the level pencil lines.
If you are installing border at the top of the wall, gently push the border against the ceiling. Work out air bubbles with a plastic smoothing tool or a damp sponge, and then roll the seam with a seam roller. Wipe off any adhesive from the wall with the sponge.

If the wall is longer than your strip of border, you will need to splice two pieces together.

Overlap the pieces by 2 inches or wherever the pattern matches up. Take a broad knife and span the width of the border where the pieces overlap. Use a new razor blade to gently slice through both pieces of the border.

Peel off the cut pieces, push back the border and wipe off the glue residue. You will have a perfectly matched splice.

For installing the border around a door, you follow the same procedure with one difference: You will have to cut miters at the top two corners of the door. Again you will overlap the border at the corners.

Hold the broad knife at an angle following the mitered cut of the door's trim. Take the razor blade and cut through both pieces and remove the scraps. I'm sure your baby will sit in his crib in amazement looking at his parents' wallpapering talents. 

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