Techniques for wallpaper seams

Written by denise howard
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Techniques for wallpaper seams
Match seams carefully on patterned wallpaper. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Wallpapering a room can be daunting for the beginner, but careful preparation and the correct tools will make the task easier. Wallpaper seams often pose the greatest difficulty, particularly with large-patterned paper. Measure beforehand to determine the best seam placement for your room.

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Types of Seams

The most common wallpaper seam is a butt seam where the two strips of paper meet edge to edge. Some papers and surfaces require a different type of seam to accommodate irregularities. A wire seam uses slightly overlapped edges between two strips of wallpaper to hide a wavy edge on the paper or an uneven wall surface. For a double cut seam, trim through both layers of a wire seam with a razor blade to form a butt seam, which is effective for papers with unfinished edges. Use a wrap seam to correct an uneven corner by wrapping the paper around the corner and adhering with a vinyl-on-vinyl paste.

Matching Seams

Wallpaper with an obvious repeating pattern requires that you match the pattern across the seams of the paper. Choose a focal point in the room, often the centre of the wall opposite the doorway. Apply the first strip of wallpaper at the focal point, and work out from there, matching up pattern edges at the seams of each strip. Unless the room has a natural floor-to-ceiling architectural break, there will eventually be a point where matching is impossible because of the width of the wall, pattern and paper. Measure before you begin papering to determine where this mismatched seam will be. Generally, putting it over the entrance doorway or in the least visible corner is best.

Common Seam Problems

Some dark wallpapers have a white backing that leaves a thin white line along the seams. Use a sharp blade to cut the paper as a dull blade leaves a fuzzy white edge that is more noticeable. If the line is still apparent, use acrylic paint or coloured chalk to tint the edge of the seam to match the wall. Some new wallpapers come with a dark grey substrate that leaves less obvious seam lines.

Wallpaper seams can lift from the wall when the factory-applied adhesive separates from the vinyl or when too much adhesive is pressed out while rolling the seam flat. Dip a small artist's paintbrush into wallpaper seam adhesive, and spread it on the wall behind the lifted seam. Press flat with a seam roller or plastic smoother.

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