barb blairbefore & after basicsbefore and after

before and after basics: wallpaper detail

by Barb

Hello Friends! It’s before and after basics time and wallpaper is the subject of choice today! Wallpaper is a huge part of what I do and I am very passionate about its application and transformation powers. The most important thing to remember as we start this process is to make sure you have your patience hat on and be ready to work out some air bubbles! Now that you’re hat is on- let’s get started! –barb

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!

What you will need:

*piece of furniture

*wallpaper or paper

*modge podge {I like the matte finish}

*foam roller

*small paint brush

*craft knife/scissors




*water based poly

How to apply wallpaper :

1. Make sure that the piece you are using is painted, distressed and ready for the paper. The surface should be super smooth with no bumps. If there is anything on the surface, like large dirt particles or paint bumps , it will show through your paper.

2. Place the paper on top of the surface you are going to cover and measure it. You do not have to have an exact measurement here, but I always try to get pretty close. Call me old school, but I use my fingers to firmly crease the paper where the edges  are and then use those lines as my guides to cut on. It works for me, but feel free to use your method of choice….like actually measuring maybe ? Once your paper is measured and cut, lay aside .

3. Apply modge podge to the surface where you wish to apply the paper. I always apply the modge podge with a foam roller because it ensures a very smooth application with even amounts of product on the entire surface. This is super important because if there are areas where the modge podge is thicker, it will cause ridges and air bubbles that will not disappear when dry. I will add here, that if it is a really large surface that I am papering, I use wallpaper paste to apply the paper. Wallpaper paste gives you more time to adjust and work out the kinks in large pieces. You can use wallpaper paste all the time if you want to, but I personally find that modge podge works great on the small areas.

4.  When you have completely covered your surface with modge podge, place the wallpaper on top working from left to right making sure you work out all the bubbles. This is where it is really important to have clean hands  and damp rags on hand to work the surface of the wallpaper. If you have anything on your hands it will transfer to the top of the paper and we do not want that! Also if you are using regular paper instead of wallpaper know that you cannot use anything damp on the surface as it will cause the paper to break down and dissolve. Wallpaper has a coating on it whereas paper does not…and that is why I find myself using wallpaper more than wrapping paper sheets more often than not.

5. Once you have applied the paper and have worked out all the bubbles, you can go back in with your craft knife and ruler and trim off any excess paper. Make sure that your craft knife has a fresh blade, and that you change blades after every couple of cuts. If your blade is not fresh and sharp it will tear and bunch up your wallpaper. Not a good situation! I have also been known to sand the edges of the paper off with my orbital sander for a totally different look. It can be scary, but it is so worth the risk! The worst thing that can happen is you have to sand it all off and start over…..so go for it!

6. When you are happy with your paper application, and all of the edges are either trimmed or sanded, go ahead and apply a coat of modge podge to the top of your paper surface. Let dry about 30 minutes and repeat again. Application can be done with a foam roller, or a brush. I like a brush for the tiny bit of texture it gives, but a roller will give you a fantastic, smooth surface that is really good too!

7. After you have applied two coats of modge podge you can also add a coat of water based poly for extra protection. It is a paper surface no matter how you dice it, so use caution when placing liquids or hot and cold variables on top of the surface. If you know the top will get lots of wear and tear, I suggest having a piece of glass cut for extra protection.

You are done! Now, go put your feet up and enjoy your new piece of transformed goodness! See you next week…

** Process shots were taken while working on a current piece for a client, and use all of the same steps and methods you would use no matter what size piece you are working on.

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  • great post! Is there an alternative to sanding etc? the piece i have is actually leather (looks like wood) and also a small NYC apartment is not conducive to sanding anything. Can I simply clean it and use mod podge? thanks

  • Thanks for the great breakdown i am using wallpaper inside a wardrobe can i use any other than modge podge on the outside as its a rather large area?

    • Hi..you mentioned not using regular paper because it will break down. Would it still break down if I used polycrylic on top of the paper to seal it and give it a glossy look? Thanks!

  • what does “after the jump” mean? I click it but it either goes to a 404 or just opens the same page again

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