At Folio Interiors, we frequently encounter common challenges in condominium buildings, and today we want to tackle a particularly troublesome issue: peeling wallpaper seams. Beyond being a mere cosmetic concern, this problem may indicate underlying issues that require attention.

We have seen it all over the years – push pins, paper clips, duct tape, and various attempts to patch and glue out of desperation. What is more frustrating than 90 percent of the walls looking great except for that one dog-eared corner or seam that curls up defiantly again and again?

Peeling wallpaper, despite its initial appearance as a cosmetic issue, can serve as a symptom of more significant concerns. It not only affects the visual appeal of shared spaces such as lobbies, corridors, and amenities but also raises questions about the quality of the original installation, potential water damage, or problems related to humidity.

The bottom line, rip-off-the-band aid reality check is that there is no way to stop wallpaper seams from opening up, once they decide to start doing so. You can remove good quality wallpaper and put the same wallpaper back up with a very skilled hanger, but this is pretty much the same amount of work as installing new. It is an option. But if you opt to replace, let’s think about prevention so you don’t have a repeat of the same issue.

Preventing peeling wallpaper can be a matter of good practices…

Choose Washable, Moisture-Resistant Wallpapers

Opt for wallpapers designed to withstand the challenges of high-traffic areas, ensuring a longer-lasting finish. In common spaces this means a vinyl, Type II commercial-grade wallpaper with a flame spread rating that meets the Ontario Building Code for fire safety.

Thorough Surface Preparation

Ensure comprehensive surface preparation before installing new wallpaper. This includes inspecting and addressing underlying issues such as moisture or uneven surfaces. Thorough removal of all old adhesive residue is critical.

Are there Cracks in the concrete or drywall walls? Filling and proper taping with mesh, not paper tape, will give a solid foundation. Skimming is not necessary and can even be detrimental depending on the specific environment and substrate. Not all wall prep is appropriate for all scenarios. Lastly, priming. Top-quality Primer on fresh drywall is the best possible start but this is not always possible.

Just rip out and replace bad drywall. There is nothing that can be done about wavy or wonky walls, without removing all drywall and addressing the framing, going back down to the studs. For concrete walls, to get a flat and level wall you’ll have to skim the whole wall with plaster.

Perhaps there are years of DIY repairs with super glue or silicone? This all must be removed, which obviously will add to the cost of preparation but it must be done.

Eliminate Root Causes

Address ventilation issues, leaks, or other potential culprits that might compromise the integrity of your walls. By eliminating these root causes, you can prevent future wallpaper problems. Solve the water escape issues and dry the space out before applying wallpaper. Keep moisture levels below 40 percent. Sometimes this is just not possible, and in that case, we can offer wallpapers that are perforated to allow for air flow. Do not turn off air conditioning in the summer months, as moisture can build up at a really surprising rate.

Strategic Wallpaper Type Placement

Consider strategically placing more delicate wallpapers in areas less prone to wear and tear. This approach enhances visual appeal while prolonging the lifespan of your chosen materials. For high-traffic areas, wallpaper is still going to be a better choice than paint – and there are tough-wearing wallpapers that are more expensive but almost indestructible. Our Condo Refurb Designers understand the importance of choosing materials that not only address the unique challenges of your condominium but also elevate its overall aesthetic appeal. We can help you come up with a custom solution for your walls after an inspection. Give us a call!

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