Structurally Sound Wall Covering Jobs Rely on Primers

Hanging wallcoverings is a lot like building a structure. It begins with a proper foundation. Without it, the structure will fail and often does.

"Of all the complaints (retailers) might hear, I can say honestly that 99 percent of the time it has nothing to do with the wallcovering or adhesive," said Floyd Shumer of Roman Adhesives. "It has to do with improper or lack of preparation."

Generally, the step most do-it-yourselfers skip is priming. Every paperhanging job can benefit from a wallcovering primer. There are short-term and long-term benefits, including better adhesion, longer working time and slip, and easier stripping later.

True, there are some surfaces that don't require priming. The foundation may already be laid if the wall is structurally sound and has a fresh coat of flat paint with a lot of binder, for example. But for the most part, consumers need to prime the surface - and with a wallcovering primer, which is made to hold a heavier "top coat."

And what about using sealers and sizes? Some manufacturers recommend priming instead. Sealers form hard, slick surfaces that have the potential for bond failure once the paste dries. Wall sizes, on the other hand, simply reduce the porosity of the surface by filling holes. Primers give better adhesion and protect porous surfaces, making strippability easier.

Even with their hard-working qualities, wallcovering primers can't do their job if the initial prep work is left undone. Be sure to properly clean the wall and disinfect it against fungus, mildew and bacterial growth. Sand any rough spots and fill holes and gaps.

Also, make sure to put enough primer on the wall. How much is enough? Whatever is needed to put a film between the wall and adhesive. Finally, give the primer time to dry. Primers often suffer from end-user impatience.

For more advice on wallcovering primers, see your independent retailer.

Courtesy of the Paint and Decorating Retailers Association -