DIY Project: Wallpaper Goes Mobile
Paper Plywood Panels for a Great Look That Can Move When You Do
As a pattern-mixing, obsessed-with-taking-risks decorator, I understand when beige lovers take one look at my work and say, "I would never let that dude anywhere near my house," especially in reference to my use of wallcovering. But I'll tell you what I totally don't get: the idea that wallpaper is off limits for renters and impossible to put up and take down without damaging drywall. If you've put off using wallpaper — whether you're an apprehensive homeowner or a renter — here's an application which will keep your walls safe and even allow you to take your wallpaper with you when you go.
I get the whole "My grandma had awful floral wallpaper in her Palm Beach condo in the 1970s and I hated it" thing, but the choices out there today are an entirely different story. Just a short time ago, quality wallpaper was strictly available through professional decorators; however, thanks to the Interwebs, thousands of styles are now available to anyone who owns a credit card and knows how to click a mouse. Hands down, the best place to find high-end wallpaper at an affordable price online is Graham & Brown.
You'll need: 4x8 sheets of plywood cut down to size, wallpaper, wallpaper paste, a paint roller and sleeve, utility knife, level, drill, drywall screws and a sanding block. You'll also need a tape measure, which I forgot to include in this photograph either because (a) I'm an irresponsible prop stylist and should be fired or (b) someone else snatched it and took it inside the house.
Hey look, there's my missing tape measure; I guess this means I'm not an irresponsible prop stylist after all! Since I have less patience than a Diego-watching 3-year-old with an empty sippy cup, I let my carpenter-friend Nick tackle the steps of this project -- and he didn't mess up, not even once! When measuring the height of your walls, be sure to measure from the top of the baseboards up to the ceiling at different points along the same wall. Why? In older homes, it's likely one side will be slightly taller or shorter than the other. This will affect the plywood fitting correctly at the ceiling.
Our portable-wallpaper application works best for spaces with ceilings 8 feet high or shorter; the height of baseboards will decrease how tall each sheet of plywood needs to be. Why the hell do I keep talking about plywood? I'm glad you asked! Instead of adding wallpaper directly to walls, it will be attached to removable panels of plywood.
To ensure you've got the right plywood, run your hands across it; it should be smooth or semi-smooth. To make it wallpaper-ready, you'll simply need to hit it with the sanding block until any rough patches are worn down. Speaking of wearing down: How much did Nick hate me for making him hold the plywood up for this shot? Let's just say a lot. Oh well, that's what he gets for showing up 90 minutes late.
Keep your plywood panels flat as you work on them. If you lean them up against something — such as the side of the house or a fence — they may start to bow, making them difficult to work with. Simply stack the panels on sawhorses to keep them safe.
If the boards need to be trimmed down due to an uneven ceiling, you can pop out the saw and do the dirty work right there on the sawhorses.
Plywood panels need to be fastened to studs in the wall. The best way to locate studs is to use a stud finder; you can also rap a knuckle along the wall and test the first spot that sounds solid. Once you've found one, you'll usually find the rest at 16-inch intervals.
Hold up the plywood in place, then mark each stud using a tape measure and a pencil.
Once the plywood is perfectly sized for your walls and stud placement is marked, do a dry fit to make sure it sits perfectly flush with the adjoining wall and baseboards.
Then fasten the panel directly into the studs using a drill and drywall screws; you'll need about five screws per panel, one in the center, and one for each corner. If you're thinking "OMG, that's gonna leave huge holes in the drywall down the road," think again. They're small screw holes; all you'll need to do is fill the holes with spackle and you'll have no idea the plywood was ever there.
If you're covering an entire wall, butt panels up against one another, leaving no gaps. If you're dealing with a wall that has power outlets, mark the outlet's placement on the plywood and cut a hole to allow for an outlet cover. You can do this with a hacksaw or a jigsaw. Since jigsaws are power tools and I'm afraid of those, I'll stick with the hacksaw, thank you.
Once all panels are screwed securely to studs, stand back and make sure the seams are almost invisible to the naked eye. If the seams are super obvious, you may want to run drywall tape over them before moving onto wallpapering.
Cover each panel with wallpaper paste using a roller. Paste dries quickly on plywood, so paste and paper one panel at a time.
To create a seamless look with the wallpaper's repeat, match up each strip side-by-side; don't press down on it until the pattern lines up perfectly. Tip: Be sure to cover the seams between panels with your wallpaper. Should you want to move the panels later, slice through the seams with a craft knife.
Once the seams are no longer visible, smooth out any air bubbles with a wallpaper smoothing tool, also referred to as a burnisher.
And that's a wrap. Now you've got a wallpapered room that won't (a) require paying a professional to remove it later on and/or (b) give your landlord a heart attack. Upon the project's completion, entertain yourself for hours on end by playing "Spot the Seam," a game in which failure to notice wallpaper seams makes you a winner. More Great DIYs: 50 Ways to Spruce Up the House Sit Pretty With Mismatched Chairs Make a Vintage Suitcase Dog Bed Make a Two-Way Chalkboard Tablet
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