The vintage wallpaper my kitchen has been up for heading toward 10 years now, and alas, the humidity in the room … the brittleness of the old paper … and likely, the imperfection of my original DIY wallpaper install finally came home to roost — and the wallpaper started peeling off along the edges in various spots throughout the kitchen. I finally took a couple of days to fix the issue — with satisfactory results — but also with some bleed-through results. Read on for the befores, durings, afters, steps, and results, both positive and negative…
“Before” — Wallpaper peeling off along the edges:
Above: Yikes. I was well on my way to living in a decollage wallpaper kitchen but, while I do like that look, that wasn’t my goal for this particular space.
See my story on how to apply vintage wallpaper. In my story I also later linked to instructions from Hannah’s Vintage Wallpaper (advertiser on this site, but this mention is not part of the *deal*.) Since I wallpapered my kitchen before I read the Hannah’s (I think she published her story much later), the only two steps I can see that I may have done “wrong” — or at least suboptimally — were that I did not necessarily apply the size the same day as I papered and I did not mix my paste using hot water. I’m not sure that these were really my issues with my vintage wallpaper coming down, though. I hypothesize that I did not originally apply the wallpaper paste thickly enough, or I did not let it soften on to the paper long enough. Also, my paper — which I bought locally from a longtime former wallpaper store (not Hannah’s) — was very very brittle — very dry — with age and likely, bad-humidity storage conditions. Surely, that must have had something to do with its ability to hold the paste longterm….
- Our story: Seven places to buy vintage wallpaper — from 80 cents to $200 a roll
“During” — Repasting the edges of wallpaper:
I bought Zinsser SureGrip powder (*Amazon affiliate link) at my local hardware store. You can use it to both size the wall, and then, to apply the paste. I followed the instructions. First, I resized behind each section of the wallpaper that was coming down.
Then, I used a paint brush to apply the paste the back of the paper itself. I let the paste sit on the paper a bit while the paper was kind of still hanging off the wall. I took it slow, because I did not want the paper to rip off. I slathered that paste on but good, *which* was not smart but continue….
When I felt like the paper had been saturated enough, I then used a big sponge, wet, to smooth it on. I love the kitchen sponges from Williams-Sonoma — we have used them in our kitchen for 25 years. I used an old one for the wallpaper project.
Above: The wallpaper re-pasted… in the process of drying. I also used a roller (all I could find was a collage brayer, shown in one of the photos, it worked great) to get out the air bubbles and really seal the edges. You need to be careful during this portion of the project not to “stretch” the saturated wallpaper.
After — All’s better… basically… except, beware of using too much paste (I think)… :
In general: The glue dried clear, and all’s better now.
BUT, in some spots, I seem to have applied too much paste, and the paste behind the paper did not dry clear. Above: A few days after and you can still see the glue all splotchy. Rorschach test: I see the shadow of a brontosaurus heading over to eat some trees. What do you see?
Above: Two photos from a few weeks later… it’s like… the glue is taking a long long long time to dry clear. Brontosauras Bob is still there, albeit, fading some more. As you can see I play with these photos in Lightroom so the percentage of black may change photo-to-photo, but I assure you: Bob has faded.
Tip to viewing photos on this blog: Click on any photo, and it should double in size on your screen for closer inspection. This should be the case on any stories on this blog published in the past few years. (Earlier, not.)
- In the grand scheme of my kitchen, you don’t really see the splotchies because there is (1) so much going on, and (2) the wallpaper is often in shadows or direct light and ya just don’t notice the imperfection of the fixit. This is, yet again, a typical case illustrating the plight of a Do-It-Yourselfer: DIY and you know where the mistakes are and can obsess about them. Luckily, I am not much of a DIY perfectionist at this point in my life.
- This was a whole lot easier that taking down the old wallpaper and putting up new/vintage wallpaper. In fact, I went window shopping at Hannah’s Wallpaper, and they sent me a bunch of samples for free to consider. Thank you, Hannah’s Treasures! I was really quite psyched about the wallpaper above. A whole new crazy 1960-70s flower power look for my kitchen! DH liked it, too. But… on top of the (1) stripping and (2) rewallpapering, I also would have had to (3) recover the cushions of my Saarinen chairs, (4) make a new window valance, and (5) reaccessorize, and (1-2-3-4-5) I just got exhausted at the thought, I have so many projects going on or already on the to-do list. So, I fixitted what I had. That was the right solution for here and now, splotchies or no splotchies. Wabi-sabi, and in this case, especially sabi 寂 — that’s what I say.