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The Ultimate Guide for Wallcovering Primes - by Seth Davis, contributor for Roman Products




The Ultimate Guide for Wallcovering Primers

If you want to know how to install wallpaper, the first order of business is to be certain that the walls are properly prepared. There are some common steps that need to be observed before hanging the first roll.


  1. The walls need to be clean and dry.

  2. The walls need to be free of any loose drywall paper or loose wallpaper from a previous job.

  3. The walls need to be smooth as possible. This may entail doing drywall repairs before moving forward.


If you have followed these steps you are well on your way to achieving satisfactory results that will beautify your walls for years to come. But there is a final step that is often missed either due to a lack of knowledge about the art of hanging wallpaper, or because the instructions are not read and followed in order to save time.


The walls need to be primed before you hang the wallpaper.

What Is A Wallpaper Primer

Primer is a coating that creates a barrier between the wall and wallpaper that keeps the adhesive from bonding directly to the wall. Primers are also effective in hiding dark paint colors, keeping them from bleeding through, and ruining your new wallpaper job. Quality primers can:


  • Reduce the number of air bubbles under the paper.

  • Make the wallpaper easier to hang.

  • Make the wallpaper easier to reposition while hanging it.

  • Make it easier to take down when the time comes.

  • Contain biocides that help reduce mold growth.


Wallpaper primers are generally water-based and easy to clean up so there is no reason to skip this step in your paper hanging project since the benefits far outweigh the cost and effort to apply it.

When And Why To Use A Wallpaper Primer

A wallpaper primer should be used every time you prepare a wall for new paper. You may be tempted to paper straight over fresh latex paint thinking that the paint will act as the primer. But this is wrong. The wallpaper adhesive may take a day or more to dry and in that time, the latex paint can grow soft and rubbery and start falling off the wall, taking your wallpaper with it.


This common misunderstanding is brought about by thinking that the wallpaper is sticking to the wall - it is not. It is sticking to the paint. Some latex paints are very porous and will allow the adhesive to seep through to the face of the drywall making removal of the paper at a later date a chore you won’t want to tackle. Wallpaper primers are specifically formulated to cause the adhesive to stick to the primer rather than the paint, thereby keeping the wallpaper from adhering to the drywall itself.


A similar thing happens when you hang wallcoverings directly on unprimed and unpainted drywall. The wallpaper adhesive can be absorbed in the drywall paper face and produce spots on the wallpaper with little to no adhesive. Over time, these areas will start to bubble and come away from the wall ruining your wallpaper project. The worst thing that can happen when the adhesive is allowed to adhere directly to the paper face of the drywall is severe damage to the drywall when it is time to remove the wallpaper.

What Type Of Wallpaper Primer To Use On Different Walls

While there are all-purpose primers that can be used in most situations, certain wall conditions will respond better to primers that have been formulated to handle these conditions.


The number one provider of wallpaper primers in America is ROMAN Products and they can be found in most big box stores across America. Let’s review a few:


  1. Pro-999/Rx-35 is a general-purpose primer for sealing taped drywall joints, contractor-grade latex paint, going over residual paste from a previous installation, and priming popcorn ceilings. Pro-999 is especially effective over drywall repairs. It is water-based, dries to a clear matte finish, and has a low odor.

  2. Pro-977 Ultra Prime is a premium pigmented primer that has great hiding characteristics and is best for priming bare drywall. Ultra Prime can be tinted for stronger hiding power and promotes strippability when it is time to remove it.

  3. Eco-988 is recommended for clay-based wall coverings and where clean air quality is important. It is also recommended for priming bare drywall.

Best Wallpaper Adhesives To Use Over A Primer

Just as there are primers that are best suited to certain wall conditions, there are adhesives that work best with those primers. Again, ROMAN products is the source for the most highly recommended wallpaper adhesives in the industry. Here are a few recommendations:


  1. Pro-880 Ultra Clear is a premium strippable wallpaper adhesive. It is great for lightweight to heavyweight wallcoverings and can be applied with a roller, pasting machine, or brush. It has exceptional adhesion and a long working time.

  2. Eco-888 is recommended for use with primer Eco-988. It is clear, has excellent tack and an extended working time. It can be used with lightweight to commercial weight wallpaper.


You are going to spend a great deal of time and energy making your home beautiful with the wallpaper that you have chosen. Doesn’t it make sense to take your time and follow all of the steps that will ensure a great look when you are done? Prime every wall, use the right adhesive and expect professional-looking results.


Seth Davis is a contributor for Roman Products. He is a blogger and content writer for the residential and commercial wall coverings industry. Seth is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and manufacturers discover products, materials, and methods of installation that increase property value, improve durability, and discover innovative wall covering options for their home or commercial space.