Home Decorating Wallpaper Q+A with Howard Hamm

Wallpaper Q+A with Howard Hamm

Wallpaper Q+A with Howard Hamm | Annie Selke’s Fresh American Style

If your walls could talk, they’d ask for Annie Selke Wallpaper to perk them up!  If you’re considering wallpaper for your spaces, we always recommend having a professional do the installation for best results. We spoke to an expert installer, Howard Hamm, for his tips on measuring, prepping your walls for wallpaper, and more. Read on for all things wallpaper!


  1. How do you determine the number of rolls you need for your project? How do you measure for wallpaper?

You will need some information about the wallcovering to be installed. First, how wide is the material, and long are the bolts? Second, what kind of match does the pattern have? Measure around the room and divide the distance by the width of the paper. This is the number of strips you will need. Now measure the height of the room. You should add 4 inches or so this measurement for trimming purposes. This length will work for random match material. Divide the length of the bolt by the length of the strip and this will tell you how many strips will be in each bolt. Divide the number of strips needed for the room by the number of strips on each bolt, and that will be the number of bolts needed.


  1. How do you prep the space beforehand?

Start by washing the walls. If necessary, remove any glue from previous wallcoverings. Prime bare drywall and any repairs with a primer. After these steps, prime the walls to be papered with a wallcovering primer.


  1. What tools do you need?
  • A tape measure and some sort of surface to roll out, measure, and paste the wallcovering.
  • A level for drawing plumb lines.
  • A roller and tray or pail for the adhesive.
  • A pail and sponge for cleaning excess paste.
  • A brush or a plastic sweep to smooth the material after it is positioned.
  • A seam roller for seams and edges.
  • A straight edge (putty knife) and snap blade knife or scissors for trimming.


  1. What materials do you need?

The appropriate wallcovering primer, the appropriate Wallcovering adhesive. Maybe a tube of seam repair adhesive.


  1. Do you have any preferred materials you like to use (Primer, glue, etc.)?

This depends on the surface to be covered. A good water-based primer is usually ok. Some situations might need an oil-based primer. A pigmented or a clear wallcovering primer is an essential.


  1. Once installed, what’s the best way to maintain/clean wallpaper?

Most material can be lightly sponged with a mild cleaner. Textures and natural fibers can be carefully vacuumed.


  1. Is it best to overlap the seams when hanging wallpaper?

This is usually not done, except in corners. This is where you use a bead of seam adhesive between the two layers of material.


  1. Can I hang wallcoverings over old paneling?

This can be done. It requires careful preparation. All panel seams should be firmly secured, by nailing. If the paneling has grooves, they should be filled, a tedious task, but doable. The paneling should then be primed with a product designed to stick to glossy surfaces. This should be followed with a coat of wallcovering primer.


  1. Can I wallpaper over wallpaper?

This is risky but sometimes necessary. If there would be an extensive amount of damage removing the old paper (due to a faulty installation or previous inadequate preparation of the walls), the surface could be prepared in the usual manner. A test piece is recommended before proceeding.


  1. What is a pattern match?

This refers to where one piece lines up with (matches), and/or completes a motif (pattern) with the next piece. Some material does not need to match in a specific place because it is designed to match at any point. A stripe or a grass cloth would be an example of this type of match. This is called random.

Some materials have a design that is completed with the next piece. Sometimes the seam splits the design; sometimes the seam does not split the design. The distance from one design to the next is the repeat. If a design repeats every 10 inches down the material, that is called a 10-inch repeat. If the design repeat on the right side and left side of the strip is the same for each strip, this is called a straight match. Each piece will be cut at the same point around the room.

If the design is not the same on the right side and left side, but is staggered, this is called a drop match. The pattern repeat on one side of the material will be halfway between the pattern repeat for the other side of the material. If the pattern repeats every 20 inches on the left side, the design will be 10 inches away from that on the right side. The next strip will have the design at 10 inches on the left and at 20 inches on the right. This will make the third piece the same as the first piece and so on around the room. It helps to label the strips A and B to distinguish them from each other. This makes every two strips a “set” and has the effect of opening up or widening the look of the material. The length of A pieces and B pieces is the same, but they start and stop in a different place than the other. To save material, many times it is advised to cut A pieces from one bolt, and B pieces from another.


  1. Can I repair a small tear in my wallpaper?

Yes. Carefully apply a little seam adhesive, or wallpaper adhesive to the back of the tear or to the wall. Let it set up a bit, and then sweep or roll the tear.


  1. Are there special wallcoverings for different rooms and/or situations?

Although most papers can be hung in any area, some thought should be given to the use of the area. A very porous finish would not be a good choice for a kitchen, bath, or high usage hallway. The same might hold true for a natural fiber.

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