Why Wallpaper Sizing and Priming is Important

Wallpaper Sizing

Wallpaper sizing is one part of the process of preparing your walls before hanging wallpaper. This is often confusing to do-it-yourselfers who aren’t familiar with wall preparation techniques. Most wallcovering manufacturers provide instructions for prepping and hanging, but they may not tell you that the process varies based on the surface you’re working with. There is little margin for error, however, as using the wrong approach can result in a disaster. Read on for the full rundown of wall-prep products and techniques to ensure a high-quality installation.

What is Wallpaper Sizing?

When you purchase your wallcoverings, the salesperson may tell you that you must size the walls before hanging. Although this may sound like a measurement process, it actually refers to treating plaster walls with a product that allows the paper to stick better, but not so tightly that you can never remove it. Sizing is a compound of chemicals that acts as a buffer between the wallpaper backing and the plaster surface. It prevents the wall from absorbing all the adhesive’s moisture and slows down the adhesion process, which allows you time to get the paper placement just right. It also prevents the adhesive from permeating the wall surface, making it impossible to remove in the future without destroying the walls. Some manufacturers refer to this product as a “prep coat.” If your walls are plaster, sizing is an absolute must before applying the paper. If you have drywall, however, you will use primer instead.

What is Wallpaper Primer?

Primer works in much the same way that sizing does, but with a few key differences. Oil-based primers are the way to go if your walls are basic painted drywall. Acrylic primers are more appropriate if you plan to hang new wallpaper over existing wallcoverings, especially if the existing surface is vinyl. Acrylic primers are available with color, which can be helpful if you’re worried about the old paper’s colors or patterns bleeding through. Never use an oil-based product on existing wallcovering, however, as the oils can soften or dissolve the old pigments and cause them to bleed through to the new surface.

Deciding Which Product to Use

If you aren’t sure whether you have plaster or drywall, chip out a small chunk using a hammer and chisel or screwdriver (you will need to patch the hole afterward). Drywall is softer with a paper facing. Plaster is rock-hard, will turn to powder when struck and typically has a backing made of metal mesh. If you aren’t comfortable making this determination, contact a professional wallpaper installer to help with the process. Whether you elect to use sizing or primer, don’t skimp on the quality. Only a high-quality primer or sizing will produce the results you seek.

The professional customer service staff at Wallpaper Warehouse understands how confusing this process can be. Not only can you choose from thousands of designer-inspired wallcoverings, borders, decals and murals at Wallpaper Warehouse, you can always count on their staff to give you the information you need to do the job right. Contact them today with all your questions about primers and wallpaper sizing.

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