An interview with professional wallcovering installer - Simon Thompson.
Simon Thompson of Thompson Décor is an established mural/wallcoverings installer, with experience of installing high end, fine wallcoverings including hand-painted and silk wallcoverings, whole one-piece mural installations, as well as woven and non-woven wallcoverings/wallpapers. Simon works nationwide and has 25 years experience in installing wallcoverings.
As my mural wallcovering ‘Spring Tonic' is printed on a pioneering, sustainable, Eco non-woven paper (that is 100% PET plastic-free) I wanted Simon to give me his feedback and observations on how my wallcovering handled, how it felt and if there was any advice he could offer anyone installing it themselves.
Both Simon and I recommend using a professional to install any wallcovering and to crossline your wall with a quality lining paper prior to hanging the wallcovering for the most professional finish. (please note as this was just for a photoshoot on my landing and will be removed again in the very near future - for another of my wallcoverings - we did not line the walls).
Q1. Please tell me Simon what preparation and pasting technique did you do to the wall today?
I sanded the walls with dust-free sanding equipment (which is safer for you and me). There was no need to fill any holes as there weren’t any, but I would have done this prior to sanding.
(Ideally at this point you would then crossline the walls with lining paper and let it dry overnight for it to settle and dry properly)
After this the walls needed to be ‘sized’. Sizing is where you dilute the paste (we used 1838 light grade pre-mix tub). I dilute the paste 50/50 with water. This is then applied all over the whole wall to be papered with a roller – you then need to let this dry completely. Not sizing the walls can cause the paste to dry too quickly if the walls are porous which can make installing very difficult. Sizing also slows down the drying times giving you more time to install the wallcovering. If you only apply one layer of paste, the wall absorbs most of it and then the correct vacuum under the wallcovering is not achieved. Then you end up applying more paste and it becomes too wet which will damage the paper.
Whilst the paste was ‘tacking off’ with the first diluted paste application, I opened up a roll of Spring Tonic and decided how best to layout the 3 different panels. I decided to use panel ‘A’ first in the far corner of the room as it has the highest bit of cow parsley and this gives balance to the design. (please see your folded A3 sample, your A4 package insert or www.beautifulbygeorge.com for the pattern of the panels A, B and C.). You can install the panels A,B,C or C, A, B or B, C, A consecutively.
So after ‘sizing’ the wall and letting it tack off (dry properly), you then apply the paste to the wall undiluted with a roller as a thin layer. Let the second coat tack off a tiny bit and apply the second coat for 1-2 panels at a time, not the whole wall this time. Then it’s time to install the panels of the mural.
Q2 How hard was it to plan where to hang the panels?
It’s not hard, you need to plan it out and estimate where the design will begin and finish. The panels are designed to be quite generous (in height), the excess at the top is handy for doing plain sections above the door. So, it is possible to set the optimum height of the design (the cow parsley) just below door / window level – so that you don’t have to cut into a panel and waste it going over doors etc. I used a laser spirit level and tape measure to make sure I knew where all the panels were going to be set. You can also use a plumb line to set your first piece.
Q3 How does the Spring Tonic Eco non-woven paper feel to you? How does it compare to a non-woven that contains fibres made from PET Plastic for example?
The paper feels really nice, like a thick, quality watercolour art paper. As a standard it feels like any other non-woven. I did notice that when it is damp it does require a slightly more delicate handling which is to be expected as its PET plastic-free. The key is not to let it get too wet. You need to act swiftly, confidently and precisely with the cutting and hanging. I would get the paper on swiftly in the more challenging areas quicker once it has been in contact with the second layer of paste. Do not overwork the paper. Make sure you have prepared everything and have all tools to hand so you do not waste time. Use a decorator smoothing tool to apply the paper, a decorators brush may be too harsh and you could damage the paper. Only use a slightly damp soft microfibre cloth to remove any paste from the joins (in a dabbing motion). Do not use the large hard sponges. NEVER apply paste directly to the paper.
Q4. What decorating advice do you have for trimming?
When trimming top and bottom, make sure you snap your knife blades every few panels as a blunt blade can rip and tear any wallcovering. Use a long straight decorators tool for trimming along a width. Better still, use a specialist trimming tool – such as the ‘Easy Trimmer’ (find it on www.peacockinnovations.co.uk ) for a precise straight crisp edge. You can save all the snapped off bits of blade and keep them in a pot. Take them to your recycling centre and recycle as a ‘metal’.
Q5. What did you do with the offcuts?
Well usually, if offcuts contain PET plastics (like many do at the moment) I cannot put them in the paper recycling so they have to go into landfill essentially. Unless you can do an upcycling project with them. The beauty behind this sustainable Eco non-woven paper is that it can go straight into your paper recycling collection.
Roller for pasting the wall
Cutting blades and knife / ‘Easy Trimmer’ from www.peacockinnovations.co.uk
Decorators steps and platform
Sharp decorators scissors
Decorators Smoothing tool
Bucket for diluting paste in
Laser spirit level/ plumb line
Brush for applying paste to smaller areas
3-1 seam roller from www.peacockinnovations.co.uk