Wall Preparation

Wall Preparation

As with anything, preparation or good foundations make the rest of the job much easier. Taking short cuts will result in you having to replace your beautiful wallpaper, the paint on the wall and often the rhinolite too.


Wallpaper needs DRY, SMOOTH, DRY and SOUND WALLS

As with anything, preparation or good foundations make the rest of the job much easier. Taking short cuts will result in you having to replace your beautiful wallpaper, the paint on the wall and often the rhinolite too. Now! We must promote another product at this stage – another fantastic product – Plaster Skim.

Plaster Skim is less messy than Rhinolite, smooths walls like a dream and wallpaper can be applied directly to it. The unfortunate part is that not many plasterers in South Africa know how to apply it. Plaster Skim can be applied directly onto newly plastered surfaces or on previously painted surfaces of sound condition. The beauty of plaster skim is that you can wallpaper directly onto the plaster skim without any other products.

Smooth, dry walls are vital! If you have any damp, please ensure you repair it…properly. Damp does not disappear on its own. Just because winter has arrived and all seems well, summer and the rains are around the corner. There are new products on the market, get the professionals out and make sure the wall is dry before any wallpaper is put up. Damp proof products also need to be primed and painted, please speak to the damp proof expert and the paint shop to ensure that the walls are sound and the paint is sound.

There are two main reasons to prepare your walls before installing wallpaper:

It ensures that your wallpaper will adhere correctly to the wall
When you want to remove the paper (to put up the new wallpaper!), your walls are left in a good condition.


As wallpaper dries, normally over a 24 to 48 hour period, the wallpaper glue contracts. If the wallpaper and glue has not formed a good bond, it will pull away from the wall. So too will the rhinolite or paint that has not bonded to the wall this will pull away from the wall with the wallpaper.

Repair any surface imperfections

Dents, nails, holes etc should be filled with poly-filler and allowed to dry.
The areas should then be sanded down to a smooth, level surface.
The wall should be cleaned of any sanding residue or stains.

Preparation for wallpaper

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions completely.
You must also follow any instructions from the wallpaper and adhesive manufacturer as to what type of surface preparations are needed for effective bonding.


Drywall must be smoothed, all the joins sealed with plaster skim or rhinolite, painted with a primer/sealer, then one coat of PVA paint.
New plaster (after the proper curing time), painted with a plaster primer, then a coat of PVA paint.


Old plaster primed with a plaster primer and a coat of PVA paint
Rhinolite, must be treated in the same way as plaster, it is very absorbent, and the wallpaper will seem to “shrink” if you do not prime it and paint it prior to wallpaper being installed.


Plaster Skim, is an excellent product to smooth any wall. They offer a full skim for walls with cracks or heavy scratch plaster or a plaster skim. This product does not need a primer or paint. It dries within 2 hours but I would suggest giving it 24 hours to dry before applying wallpaper.


On any wall with suspected defects or damage use a primer/sealer.
On new or repaired drywall use a primer/sealer.
On a wall surface with residual wallpaper paste use a primer/sealer.
If you are installing dark wallpaper it is best to paint the wall with a dark paint. Alternatively where the wallpaper seams are going to be paint a strip of a similar colour.


We have seen instances where wallpaper has pulled away from sections of newly plastered and rhinolited walls, this is because the primer was not coated properly.

Previously Wallpapered Walls

Strip all old wallpaper.
Sand any defects and the seam areas, then apply a prep coat or primer/sealer.

When to use a Lining Paper

Lining paper should be used for all papers that have some kind of foil or sheen base, and thinner paper.

These papers show the smallest imperfection on a surface.
Installing relatively inexpensive lining paper will ensure the best possible finish to your investment and increase the longevity.

Lining paper is installed the day before the wallpaper and left to dry. The wallpaper is installed the following day.

What is a Primer?

Most primers are applied to make the substrate to create a key and allow for the correct adhesion of the topcoat.

All paint companies manufacture primers. Here are some suggestions from the technical departments of the well-known paint suppliers in South Africa.

Dulux Paints:

Dulux bonding liquid, spreading rate 12m2 per litre, followed by two coats of your preferred paint. Dulux stressed the importance of the rhinolite being 100% dry.

Plascon Paints:

Plascon Plaster Primer. One WHITE coat, in other words completely obliterate the rhinolite. Allow 16 hours to dry. The spread rate is about 6-8m2 per litre. 2 top coats of your preferred paint.

Prominent Paints:

Damp Cure as a plaster primer. One WHITE coat, in other words completely obliterate the rhinolite. Allow 24hours to dry. The spread rate is about 6m2 per litre. No top coat is required.