How To Properly Prepare Your Walls for Wallpaper

Why To Seal Walls Before Wallpapering

Do you want to make sure your wallpaper sticks to the wall properly and comes off easily?

Prepare your walls with pigmented shellac before installation.

We strongly recommend that you only hang wallpaper on dry, clean and smooth walls that have been properly primed. Preparing your walls with a good primer before hanging your wallpaper is the most important steps in the installation process.  At the expense of sounding like a broken record, we cannot emphasize this enough. The initial preparation process ensures that your wallpaper will adhere to and later come down from your walls correctly.  

Many people are convinced that the wallpaper removal process will result in damaged walls. These fears stem from decades of amateur and non-professional installations where the essential step of adding primer was either missed completely or an inferior, insufficient “prep-coast” was used by a do-it-yourselfer who didn’t understand what he or she was doing.  When the the right type of primer is used by either your or your installer (aka paperhanger), you can be assured that the end result with look great and your sheetrock won’t come down with the paper at the time of removal.Properly Prepare your Walls Before Hanging Wallpaper

Why We Suggest Pigmented Shellac Primers?

There are several types of wallpaper primers on the market, however, we’ve found in our 30 years of paperhanging experience that pigmented shellac is the best. Our company doesn’t install wallpaper any longer but when we did we bought gallons of it every week. There are several reasons why we view this primer as superior over others when it comes to wallpaper installation:

  • Pigmented shellac dries to a dull finish that the wallpaper can then adhere to.
  • Pigmented shellac doesn’t create a glossy or matt finish that will see through the wallpaper.
  • Pigmented shellac dries extremely fast compared to other primers.
  • It can be used under and over any latex or oil-base paint.
  • Wallpaper adhesive sticks to it better. The adhesive (whether it’s prepasted or not) does not stick well to enamel or semi-gloss enamel well.
  • When you use wall paint, the water soaks into the drywall leaving the latex on the outside surface to act as a vapor barrier. This does not make a good sealer or a sizer. On the other hand, shellac soaks into the wall leaving a hard surface for the wallpaper to adhere to. Pigmented shellac is a primer/sealer, not a wall sizer. It guarantees a smooth surface for you to hang your wallpaper today and trouble-free removal, with no wall damage, years later.

See Also: Please Everyone! Seal Your Drywall before Wallpapering

Where Can You Get A Pigmented Shellac Primer?

The most readily available pigmented shellac is called B-i-N, made by Zinsser. We have found B-i-N to be the best primer for almost any residential or commercial wallpaper project, for most types types of bare or painted walls. You can find this product at any Lowes or Home Depot in your area. They are sold by the gallon.

BIN Shellac Base Primer

Home Depot

At Home Depot, you will find B-i-N in the primer section, usually located in the middle of the “Paint” area.  At the time of writing this article, the price for this product is $41.98 + tax.

Where To Buy Shellac Primer at Home Depot

BIN Shellac Based Primer Home Depot

Lowes Home Improvement

At Lowes, there is a dedicated section just for wall primers. Look for the blue sign that says “Primers,” and you will easily spot the B-i-N product. Again, at the time of writing this the price for this product is $41.98 + tax.

Where To Buy Shellac Primer at Lowes Home Improvement

BIN Shellac Primer at Lowes Home Improvement Store

How Much Will I Need?

One gallon of B-i-N pigmented shellac will prime and seal approximately 400 sq. ft of wall space. According to data compiled by the National Association of Home Builders, the average size of a bedroom in North American is between 309-411 sq. feet.

Average Size of Rooms

So you will need a gallon of B-i-N primer per room IF you plan to hang wallpaper on all the rooms. Keep in mind that very few people wallpaper entire rooms anymore. Most people create what’s known as an accent wall on within a section of a particular room. In most cases, one gallon of shellac will be enough for what most people are trying to do.

  • Michael Banis

    Answered a lot of questions.

    • debbie bedwell

      Regarding the story on Paulick Report – Battle of Midway. Trainers like Baffert and some are scum of the earth. Low rent!

  • Laura Azarowicz

    Have wallcovering which has silver embossed design and turning black in areas. Wall was primed properly and used Roman glue. I feel the design was first black and silver was placed on top. I think the black ink/paint is seeping through the silver. I took off a sheet of already installed paper and there was no black on the wall or back of wallcovering. My question is, can I put a clear shellac over the wallpaper to possibly stop the silver from turning black because the ink will not be able to bleed through the silver then?