Cat Scratch Fever

One of the most valuable wallpaper installation ‘tricks’ I learned from watching a professional installer was the process of double cutting through two layers of wallpaper to make an ‘invisible’ repair on a damaged section of wallpaper. It is relatively simple to execute and the same technique works for extending coverage on a wall when you are a little short of the last strip, or in those situations where you need to repair your own trimming mistake.

Let’s imagine your cat tears your wallpaper while attacking the peacock in the design motif. If you are like most people who wallpaper, you have kept some leftover wallpaper in your closet or attic, even though you were never sure why. And occasionally when you’ve come across these hidden scraps you’ve probably thought, “Why in the world are we saving this useless junk?” Well the day your dining room wallpaper gets damaged is the day that useless junk becomes valuable.

When that day arrives, armed only with your newly valued wallpaper scraps, a wallpaper trim knife and smoother (and if your wallpaper is un-pasted, some pre-mixed wallpaper adhesive) you will be able to make your damaged wall look as good as new.

Start by cutting a section from one of your leftover scraps, making sure it contains enough of the pattern to completely cover and match the damaged area and still allow for a final trim.

Next you will need to moisten the wallpaper around the tear to loosen the adhesive and allow the damaged section to be removed. This can be accomplished by first using a knife to score the area you plan to remove and then taping a wet sponge over the wallpaper long enough to allow moisture to penetrate the paper – usually 5 minutes will do it.

At the same time, prepare the newly cut piece which will serve as your repair patch.
If it is a pre-pasted paper, simply wet the back and loosely fold it paste to paste so that the paste won’t dry out while exposed to the air. This also allows the scrap to relax and expand before being positioned on the wall. If it is un-pasted, you will need to apply paste to cover the entire back and then fold it as instructed above.

Now comes the critical part of matching the pattern. Place your wallpaper patch on top of the old wallpaper covering the damaged area, making sure the over-lapped patterns match.

Smooth it out with a wallpaper smoother and allow the paste to set for a few minutes. Your next step will be to cut through both layers of paper with the intention of cutting out the damaged area on the original layer while simultaneously cutting a replacement piece from the overlaid patch.

But first, decide strategically where you want to make the cut. If the pattern allows it, plan your cut along the lines of a printed pattern to make the eventual trim cut less visible. Once you have decided where your cut will be, use your trim knife to make a deep cut, penetrating both layers of paper, completely encircling the damaged area.

After you have accomplished that, temporarily lift the trimmed patch including the fresh cut outline you made in the patch. Then remove the damaged paper underneath from within the duplicate cut made on the original layer of wallpaper. What you will have left is an open wall area into which the new fresh cut replacement piece fits perfectly, like the last remaining piece of a jigsaw puzzle.

Smooth the edges of the patch where it now meets the original wallpaper, and, TA-DAH, you have a perfectly fitted repair, invisible to the naked eye. And no one will ever suspect that your perfect little pet was ever naughty – unless they heard about that nasty little canary incident, but that’s another story.

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5 Comments

  1. Beautiful repair job!!!

    Wish my bead board paper that my dog scratched up could be fixed that easy…..she wasn’t content to scratch one spot….she left her signature in random scrapes all around the door and entryway……*sigh*…..good thing I love her. I’m just wondering how this is going to go over with the hubs…..trying to paint over it and minimize the visible damage before he gets home!!!

    Note to anyone considering Bead Board Wall paper……It is _very_ delicate and scars _very_ easily!! So far I’ve not found any way to minimize the random scars. I’ve painted….sanded and repainted…..steamed to try to plump the scars back out…..no go.

    1. I just found out the hard way that foam type bead board wall paper is not good for people with cats either! We have two spots to try to repair, one may be able to cover with spare piece, the other is near window. Looking for solutions online right now….

    2. The thing to remember is that wallpaper is usually just that; wallpaper, so it is as delicate as any paper product even with vinyl in the coatings. For high traffic areas the best bet is commercial grade vinyl. Hotels and public buildings use it for just that reason. When a large area of residential wallpaper is damaged it may be best to re-paper the area after first removing the damage on the wall surface itself, such as deep gouges and scratches.

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