Wallpaper Installation Challenges: Bubbles and Blisters

Installing Wallpaper

Although wallpaper installation is usually easier than do-it-yourselfers anticipate, sometimes things go sideways. One of the most common complaints is that newly hung wallcoverings develop unsightly humps, bumps or bubbles. Blisters may be caused by improper wall preparation or hanging techniques, but sometimes they just happen. Fortunately, in many cases, bubbling or blistering is easy to fix. Read on for some helpful tips for both avoiding and mitigating this problem.

Causes of Blistering or Bubbling

Blisters and bubbles most commonly occur when a bond fails to form properly between walls and wallpaper. This phenomenon may also occur if you didn’t smooth the paper properly after hanging it, leaving a bubble of paste underneath. If you didn’t allow enough time for the wallcovering to “book,” (soak up the paste, relax and expand), this can also cause blisters. In the worst case, a bubble may indicate dirt, a paint chip or some type of imperfection in the wall or trapped beneath the paper.

Preventing Bubbly Wallpaper

Just as real estate is all about “location, location, location,” wallpapering is all about “preparation, preparation, preparation.” You simply cannot have a good finished product without taking the time and effort to get the walls ready. Removing any existing wallpaper and adhesive is critical. If the wall surfaces are painted, you must determine if the paint is water soluble or not. If it is water soluble, it must be removed. If it’s not water soluble, check to ensure that it’s not peeling or flaking off anywhere. Follow manufacturer’s instructions or ask your paper supplier to recommend wall prep products. Many underlying wall surfaces require sealing or sizing. Finally, work with only one strip at a time to ensure that you allow each sheet of wallcovering to properly “book,” during which it can expand up to 1/2 inch.

How to Repair Wallpaper Bubbles

Fortunately, most bubbles and blisters are easy to fix, as long as they don’t result from poor wall prep or improper booking. If the paste hasn’t dried, spend a bit more time working it with a roller. If the wallcovering and adhesive have already dried, you must determine whether the blister has air under it by pushing gently with your finger. If so, cut a tiny slit with your utility knife and gently push the air out. Use a specialty wallpaper syringe to squirt in a tiny bit of glue, then smooth gently with your roller. For tiny blisters, try using a pin rather than a knife to allow the air to escape. If the bubble is large however, you may have to make an “x” cut to get all the air out. Ensure that your knife is very sharp, to avoid tearing.

Even with the greatest care and preparation, bubbles and blisters can appear in your newly hung wallpaper. If the steps recommended above for preventing this problem don’t help, contact Wallpaper Warehouse. Their experienced customer service representatives can help you with bubbles or blisters, or any other wallpaper installation problems you may encounter.

One Response to Wallpaper Installation Challenges: Bubbles and Blisters

  1. Avatar Essa Bella says:

    Such a helpful tips for the wallpapering. Thanks for explaining the causes of blistering and bubbling.  

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