Wallpaper Gives Simple Facelift On A Budget

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Wallpaper comes in as many different patterns, materials and finishes as there are tastes.

Welcome to The Rim Review’s new column, “On the House” with the Carey Bros.

James Carey and Morris Carey, known as the Carey Bros., are nationally-recognized experts on home building and renovation. They share their 55+ years of experience as award-winning, licensed contractors with millions of people nationwide through a weekly radio program and syndicated newspaper column, both titled “On The House.”

With wit, enthusiasm and clarity, the Carey Bros.’ Associated Press syndicated newspaper column, four-hour radio broadcast and daily radio vignette offer people money-saving tips on building, remodeling and repairing homes.

Beyond radio and print, the Careys have a rich and colorful history on television. Clad in their signature bright bib overalls, they have appeared as the home improvement editors on “CBS News Saturday Morning;” as home improvement family members on the popular Family Channel’s “Home and Family” program; and have appeared as guests on various national and local television programs.

Besides their syndicated column, the Carey Bros. have authored four “how-to” books, Cost-Effective Home Upgrades published by Ortho Books (1992); Home Remodeling For Dummies published by IDG Books Worldwide (1998); Home Maintenance For Dummies also published by IDG Books Worldwide (2000), and Home Improvement-All-In-One For Dummies published by Wiley Publishing, Inc. (2004). The Carey Bros. also write a regular monthly column for The Family Handyman, a Reader’s Digest home improvement magazine.

The Careys also host a highly-trafficked and information-packed Web site, onthehouse.com, which acts as a convergence of all of their home improvement advice, tips and information.

Changing Times

Recently most of the country set clocks back and checked your smoke detectors. Whenever time changes take place, catchy sayings like ‘spring forward and fall back’ help us remember exactly what to do. They also can serve as a reminder that it’s time to do other things, as well, like checking or changing batteries in smoke alarms.

But why stop there?

Here are a few more things you should do every fall and spring, and there’s no better time than when you “spring forward” and “fall back.”

Start by replacing filters in furnaces and air conditioners, and then change the direction of your ceiling fans. Blades should turn clockwise (reverse) in winter on the slowest speed to force warm air down. This distributes heat gently without causing a draft. And remember to reset programmable thermostats. Do these things now and again when we “spring forward.”

No Budget for Remodeling?

Want to remodel your kitchen or bath, but your budget says “no way, not today”? Consider simple facelifts as remodeling quick fixes. Here are a few ideas that aren’t budget-busters.

For the kitchen, new cabinet and drawer hardware costs far less than painting and makes a big difference in the appearance. If your budget permits, a new faucet spiffs up a kitchen too.

In the bath, if your porcelain sink and tub show wear and tear with chips, pits and staining, resurfacing is a lot cheaper than replacement. Full-tub acrylic liners also are available that provide a new-tub look without replacement.

In other rooms, just add a decorative border near the ceiling or mid-wall for cheap restyling. Today there are many inexpensive solutions that offer new looks without major remodeling. Make a trip down to your local hardware store and check out what’s new lookwise.

All about Wallpapering

How can you make a small room feel spacious, a large room seem cozy or the most drab and lifeless room come alive with depth and color? Aside from knocking down walls and raising the roof, wallpaper can do the trick. It comes in as many different patterns, materials, and finishes as there are tastes. Vinyl paper should be used in rooms where there is an abundance of moisture such as the kitchen, bathroom or laundry room. Vinyl papers are the most moisture resistant and make for easy cleanup.

Other types are fabrics, foils, flocks, grass cloth, and thin veneers of cork or natural wood.

As with painting, preparation is important. Great care should be taken to ensure that walls are smooth and clean prior to installing wallpaper. If the wall is papered, the paper should be removed for better adhesion and a better look.

If the wall has a smooth glossy finish, it should be washed with a solution of TSP, lightly sanded with 120-grit sandpaper, and painted with a coat of an oil-base primer/sealer. Unpainted plaster or wallboard, or latex-coated surfaces should be painted with an oil-base primer/sealer as well. The oil-base primer will seal the walls and minimize the amount of moisture absorbed by the wallboard from the paste.

Less-than-perfect wall finishes should first be covered with a lining paper. Lining paper serves as a foundation for the new paper. It will level out the wall and conceal blemishes. It is recommended for certain wallpapers foil and silk, for example.

Having the proper paper-hanging tools is essential. Many home improvement centers or paint and wallpaper specialty stores carry inexpensive paper-hanging kits. They go for less than $20, and contain a pasting brush, a smoothing brush, a razor knife, razor blades, a seam roller, and a plumb bob.

Other tools and equipment required to make the job go smoothly: a large pair of scissors, tape measurer, pencil, water trough, 5-gallon bucket, sponge, spring clamp, a 12-inch to 16-inch straightedge, a stepladder and a pasting table.

Start by setting up your work area. If you will be working in a room where the flooring is in place, you’ll want to cover it with a canvas drop cloth. Next, set up your pasting table. An old door placed on a couple of sawhorses will do. Professionals prefer lightweight portable tables, but they are costly and will only pay for themselves if used often.

A plumb line establishing true vertical should be made on the wall as a guide for the first paper to be hung. This can be done with a plumb bob, a laser level or with a bubble level and a pencil. The line should be as light as possible since dark lines might show through.

Paper can be purchased prepasted or hung with paste. For the best bond, we suggest that paste be used even if the paper is prepasted. Our preference is a mildew-resistant vinyl paste. It is stronger than most others and is especially durable in damp rooms.

Each length of paper should be cut about four inches longer than the distance from the ceiling to the top of baseboard. Once cut, prepasted paper should be rolled pattern side in and run through the water trough filled with warm water. The paper should then be laid on the pasting table with the pattern facing down. A spring clamp at one end will help to keep the paper from rolling up. Additional paste should be applied with the pasting brush or a heavy-nap paint roller. It is not necessary to run unpasted paper through the water trough, although all other steps apply.

After the paper has been pasted, it should be folded over (pasted face to pasted face) so that the ends of the paper meet in the middle. This process called “booking” allows the paste to be evenly spread and the paper to expand to its fullest prior to hanging. The booked paper should be allowed to sit for about 10 minutes.

Now you’re ready to hang your first piece of paper. Use the stepladder since paper is hung from the top down. Unfold the top section of the booked paper and place it against the wall with the palms of both hands while allowing about two inches of excess at the top. You’ll find that the paper easily can be manipulated along the wall as you align it with the previously made plumb line. Once the top section has been aligned with that line, it should be smoothed with a damp sponge or the smoothing brush, working from the center to the edges. Repeat this process for the bottom half of the paper.

The second and each successive strip of paper should be prepared and hung like the first and should be butt up against the previously installed strip to form a neat and uniform seam. Special care should be taken to ensure that patterns match up at seams when patterned paper is used. Use a seam roller to set the seams after each strip of paper has been smoothed and all air bubbles have been removed.

Using a razor knife and metal straightedge, trim the paper at the ceiling and at the baseboard. Hold the razor knife firmly in one hand and the straightedge in the other, and carefully pull it along the straightedge. Once you have reached the end of the straightedge, move it to the next section to be cut, and carefully continue the process. You will find that changing blades frequently will make the job of trimming easier.

Finally, after all of the paper has been hung, it should be wiped down with a damp sponge and warm water. Wring out the sponge frequently.

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