Wallpaper can be a very durable surface when it's applied in a clean, dry area. However, if you hang wallpaper in a damp area, such as a bathroom, or an area where it's exposed to grease or other dirt, you may want to protect the surface by applying sealer to the wallpaper.
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Some wallpaper manufacturers, retailers, and decorators recommend using a sealer to waterproof wallpaper and protect it when it's installed in a moist or dirt-prone area. They recommend a specialized product, decorator's varnish, which is specifically made for use on wallpaper and other decorative surfaces.
Things You'll Need
How to Seal Wallpaper
Step 1: Be Sure Wallpaper Is Dry and Clean
If you want to seal the wallpaper right after it's installed, allow it to try on the walls for one to two days before you apply the sealer. If the wallpaper isn't newly installed, wipe with a lint-free cloth to make sure there is no grease or dust on the surface.
Step 2: Mix the Sealer
Make sure the varnish is well-mixed by holding the bottle horizontal to the floor, with one hand on the cap and the other on the bottom of the bottle. Gently roll the bottle a few times to mix up the ingredients without causing any bubbles to form in the varnish.
Step 3: Pour Varnish into a Shallow Pan
Pour some of the varnish into a shallow pan or roller tray. The varnish pours out white but it will dry clear.
Step 4: Apply the Sealer
Use a brush, roller, or foam applicator to apply varnish over the wallpaper. Keep moving your brush in the same direction, reloading varnish as necessary. Cover the entire surface of the wallpaper with a thin layer of varnish, brushing it out well.
Step 5: Add Additional Coats
Allow the varnish to dry for about two hours, wipe with a lint-free cloth, then add a second coat. Allow it to dry, wipe with a lint-free cloth again, then add a third coat.
Step 6: Let Varnish Cure
Leave the wallpaper untouched for about a week to allow the varnish to harden and cure. Don't scrub the surface until the varnish has cured.
A higher-gloss varnish, such as a satin finish, provides better protection than a matte finish (sometimes called a dead flat finish). For the best protection while maintaining the matte finish of a wallpaper, apply two coats of semi-gloss, then finish the wallpaper with one or two coats of the flat finish.
Before applying the sealer to your wallpaper, test it first in an inconspicuous area of the room, or apply it to scrap of the wallpaper you have left over. The varnish may not be suitable for all kinds of wallpaper.