Wall­pa­per bor­ders are easy to in­stall

Daily Press - - Real Estate - By Tim Carter Tri­bune Con­tent Agency

Q: Trends and de­signs change, and I’m con­vinced wall­pa­per will rise from the ashes. I’d like to start the resur­gence and in­stall some wall­pa­per bor­ders in a few rooms in my home. What can you share to make this job go smoothly? Have you ever put in a bor­der half­way up a wall? What are the big­gest mis­takes you can make work­ing with wall­pa­per bor­ders?

A: I don’t know if wall­pa­per bor­ders ever re­ally fell out of fa­vor. They’re an in­ex­pen­sive way to add themed char­ac­ter and eye candy to oth­er­wise bland painted walls.

I’ve in­stalled countless rolls of wall­pa­per bor­der in my life­time. I was very lucky that my wife se­lected in­ter­est­ing ones that ac­cented each room. My fa­vorite bor­der of all time was one that had palm trees on it in a trop­i­cal set­ting. I in­stalled it about 48 inches from the floor in a themed half bath­room.

If you haven’t done the job be­fore, you should know that hang­ing gi­ant strips of wall­pa­per is chal­leng­ing. Some of the old com­edy movies show­ing ac­tors get­ting wrapped up in the sticky pa­per are not too far-fetched. Wall­pa­per bor­ders, on the other hand, are very sim­ple to work with. It’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to goof up.

The big­gest mis­take you can make, in my opin­ion, is to ig­nore any writ­ten in­struc­tions that come with the bor­der. It’s very im­por­tant to use the cor­rect ad­he­sive. Some bor­ders come prepasted. In­stead of us­ing wa­ter to ac­ti­vate the ad­he­sive, I’d sug­gest a clear paste ac­ti­va­tor. These in­ex­pen­sive prod­ucts brush on or roll on with ease.

Be sure to al­low the bor­der to ex­pand once the ad­he­sive has been ac­ti­vated. Pros call this book­ing. This sim­ply means you fold the back of the bor­der onto it­self so the ad­he­sive is not ex­posed to the air. Al­low the bor­der to rest or ex­pand for about 10 min­utes be­fore putting it on the wall.

I highly rec­om­mend paint­ing the wall with a spe­cial wall­pa­per primer a week be­fore you in­stall the bor­der. These glossy paints al­low you to re­move the bor­der in the fu­ture with lit­tle ef­fort. If you ap­ply the bor­der to nor­mal painted dry­wall, there’s a good chance you’ll rip off the fac­ing pa­per of the dry­wall when you at­tempt to re­move the bor­der.

One of the big­gest rookie mis­takes I see is when a per­son wraps the bor­der around an in­side cor­ner where two walls meet. When the bor­der dries, it pulls away from the in­side of the cor­ner leav­ing an un­sightly gap.

You solve this prob­lem by press­ing the bor­der into the cor­ner very tightly. Use a sharp ra­zor knife to make a straight cut through the bor­der about away from the in­side cor­ner. Over­lap the bor­der that was about to run across the wall just over this small strip of pa­per that wrapped around the cor­ner. Trust me, you’ll never see this over­lap af­ter the job is com­plete.

I’ve cre­ated a page on my web­site for you that has wall­pa­per bor­der in­stal­la­tion videos and other tips at go.ask­the­builder .com/wall­pa­per­bor­ders.

Q: Win­ters are mild where I live. The tem­per­a­ture rarely drops be­low freez­ing. I’ve de­cided to in­stall some tra­di­tional flag­stone on a pa­tio. I un­der­stand how to cut it and fit the pieces. I’m won­der­ing about the best mor­tar to use. I plan on putting the flag­stone on a con­crete slab that has re­in­forc­ing steel in it so it will last for a long time.

A: Mild weather is the best for in­stalling flag­stone or any stone or brick that you’d mor­tar to a con­crete slab. If I could pick my con­di­tions, I’d want to do this work on over­cast days with no wind and the tem­per­a­ture about 55 F.

I’d rec­om­mend a mor­tar mix that’s rapidly be­com­ing myth­i­cal. This hap­pens with many tech­niques in the build­ing in­dus­try. I’d use a mor­tar that’s got a healthy amount of hy­drated lime in it.

Hy­drated lime has un­told ben­e­fits, not the least of which is its abil­ity to make the mor­tar eas­ier to work with. Shrink­age cracks are min­i­mized us­ing hy­drated lime. Lime has self-heal­ing prop­er­ties if small cracks de­velop over time.

Here’s a recipe that’s worked well for me on all my jobs: 15 gal­lons of medium sand 6.38 gal­lons of Port­land ce­ment

1.12 gal­lons of hy­drated lime Blend all of these to­gether in a wheel­bar­row un­til well mixed and the color is uni­form. Then add enough wa­ter so the fi­nal mix re­sem­bles mashed po­ta­toes, not runny ap­ple­sauce.

I’ve got lots of free ex­tra flag­stone mor­tar tips for you at my web­site. Go to go.ask­the­builder .com/flag­stonemor­tar.

TIM CARTER PHOTO

This wall­pa­per bor­der with palm trees added the right touch to this pow­der room.

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